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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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TPLO surgery on remaining back leg
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21 July 2021 - 6:51 pm
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Hi!

Our almost 4 yo hound dog mix Bryce Canyon National Bark is going to have TPLO surgery on her remaining back leg next month. We went through her amputation back in 2018 (after she jumped out of the car window when we were going 40mph). She broke her back left leg in 3 places so amputation was the best thing for her and her recovery went really smoothly and seemed quite quick. She’s been a super happy, active doggo since then. But during the pandemic, when we weren’t able to visit the vet for our usual check/weigh in, she gained 10lbs (too many treats during hikes!) that was almost unnoticeable. That added weight mixed with a hike with too much uphill about 4 months ago lead to a torn, or fraying, CCL that requires attention. 

We’re worried about the long recovery time (8-12 weeks) and that her one back leg is all she has left! During her amputation recovery, she adapted SO quickly to three legs, so we’re hopeful she’ll manage okay especially since her front end is super strong. We do have a hold ‘em up harness that we’ll use to help her get outside and to posture for eliminations, so I think that will be a huge help. She’s also a typical sleepy hound dog, so given the meds she’ll be on, I doubt we’ll have trouble keeping her mellow and not being too active.

Has anyone been through this procedure with their tripawd? I’ve researched the procedure quite a bit and understand it’s quite common and has a great success rate, plus the added bonus of possibly sowing the progression of arthritis. Are there any recovery tips from those who have been through this?

We know it’s a long road, but are looking forward to coming out the other side where she can be an active pup again! 

-Taja

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21 July 2021 - 10:10 pm
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Hi and welcome! Sorry for the quick reply, I wanted to make sure others see your post. I will be back tomorrow with some pointers. Meanwhile check out our info about recovering from a remaining leg surgery:

https://tripawd.....g-surgery/

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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21 July 2021 - 10:47 pm
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Clearly Bryce  Canyon Natiinal Bark is a very loved dog who has not let three legs hold him back at all!

While I'm sorry your facing this "challenge", it is certainly doable.   As you noted, recovery is a long road, and it will require a lot of patience.  You'll want to convey  a strong and confident  energy to Bryce Canyon.  You already have a head start in the pawsitive attitude  category.  Good job of staying focused on the end result👍

How much does Bryce Canyon  National Bark weigh now?  And yes, all of us put on pandemic pounds.

Will this be TPLO surgery?  Not what they call the Cruciate "fishing line" technique,  right?  The TPLO type surge5r is a stronger procedure. 

One of the best tips I can offer is to connect with a Rehabilitation Specialist.  If possible, try and get an appointment  ahead of time just to confirm the prognosis, as well as to assess  and confirm that she is a good candidate.   The Tripawds Foundation   will pay for the first appointment. 

It sounds like Bryce enjoys couch time and just lounging around being spoiled.  Being mellow is good for this type of recovery. 

My front legger tripawd Bluetick Coonhound Frankie had cruciate  surgery repair  on one of his rem back legs and recovery  was definitely hard!  In large part because  I'm the only hooman in the pack.  He is a strong willed and determined  dog and would not take things slowly.   A year later he had TPLO surgery on his other remaining  leg.  

Of course you'll want nonslip scatter rugs for traction and an area that keeps him confined.  The harness will be an invaluable  tool

Of course, pain management   is crucial  too.  So be sure the Vet has a good pain management   plan in place

Keep us posted and let us know any questions  that pop up.  You've got this!!!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS. Not sure about TPLO preventing arthritis.  Tripawds are definitely  prone  to arthritis  because  of so much wear and tear on their joints.   So never too early to start joint  supplements. 

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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22 July 2021 - 7:36 am
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Thanks for the response, Sally! Yes, she is going to have the TPLO procedure. The board certified doc that's doing it specializing in the procedure (and was also the same vet who did the amputation years ago) so we're resting easy knowing she'll be in good hands!

There's a rehab specialist near us who we can likely use. I will for sure do some more investigating regarding help from the Tripawds Foundation --thanks for the tip!

Glad to hear the procedures went well for Frankie!

The area she'll mostly be in will be a carpeted room but we will definitely have some yoga mats and stuff on our hardwood floors--same as we did during her amputation recovery.

The vet's estimate for the procedure included info on the pain meds she'll be on post surgery and they seem to be the same as what she was on after the amputation which seemed to keep her relatively comfortable. She gets carprofen (for inflammation), cosequin and fish oil now and while we'll be stopping the fish oil 2 weeks before the surgery, she'll get those supplements afterwards as well!

We appreciate the encouragement and will send updates!

Cheers,
Taja

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22 July 2021 - 10:14 am
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I'm so glad Sally chimed in! She's got tons of experience in this area and her feedback is always helpful as you see.

Sounds like you have everything lined up for a good recovery. And your vet team sounds terrific. Yes, do look into rehab therapy, it's vital for a smooth recovery as you'll read in the articles.

I also haven't heard about TPLOs preventing arthritis, got any links you can share for our own knowledge?

Holler away with any questions, we are here to help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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15 September 2021 - 3:54 pm
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Pupdate!

Bryce's surgery went really well and we're now 3 weeks into recovery. We had a VERY rough first night as she was coming down from the morphine used during the procedure, but she started to act like herself by noon the next day. She started weight bearing about 3 days after the procedure though we kept the help 'em up harness on at all times for extra assistance when outside eliminating and moving from bed to bed in the living room. 

Staples came out last Wednesday and we've been increasing our walk times a little bit each day and were making great progress. The harness even came off since she didn't need our help anymore! Then this afternoon when we were on our second walk, she seemed to lose steam and no will no longer put weight on it. 

I had not given her the gabapentin pain med this morning since we'd finished with the 14 days prescribed (though they did give us extra), so perhaps that has something to do with it. I've talked with the vet who said to see how she's faring in the morning, but it feels like a huge step backwards in her progress and it has me worried! Not only is she not putting weight on it now, but she doesn't seem to be flexing it in the normal walking motion (which she had been doing immediately after surgery), so I'm hoping it's not something to do with the hardware!

We'll be talking with the vet in the morning to figure out what next steps might be, but I'm wondering if anyone here who has gone through TPLO recovery has had similar experiences. 

Thanks, 

Taja 

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15 September 2021 - 4:20 pm
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Hi Taja,

It's great things went well overall. Bryce is a rock star!

Try not to panic, it's totally normal to have some hiccups during the recovery process. Sally can tell you all about that! She will probably chime in soon so hang tight. She has more experience in that department than I do.

Has your vet lined up rehab therapy? If not, now is the time, stat. Rehab can make a huge difference in the long term so be sure to get that lined up as soon as you are able. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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15 September 2021 - 5:29 pm
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Trying to go by memory, so thos is just FWIW.    It seems like Bryce's initial recovery was at a faster pace than tripawd Frankie's, as well as four legger Merry Myrtle.  If I recall, neither were doing normal "flexing" right odd the bat.  It took a lot of icing and a lot of gentle range of motion (but that didn't  start until well into the fourth or fifth day at least.

I think Frankie did   some toe tapping weight bearing maybe sooner than he should have, but being on three it was a matter of necessity.  If I recall, Myrtle took a little longer for full weight bearing, but she had the luxury of four legs.

For now, just use the harness to support her gest you can and do some icing if she will let you.  Don't  do any ROM or flexing but I would five her the Gaba dose as prescribed  by the Vet.  Also continue with massage all up and down her spine and shoulders and neck.  

Most likely  just dealing with a little bit too much too soon and that can cause a "tweak" here and there.  Don't  feel like it's a step backwards, more like just a hiccup on the tripawd TPLO road to recovery.

Let us know what the Surgeon  says.  And no worries if they want to do an xray, okay?  Not unusual.

Hugs 

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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15 September 2021 - 6:01 pm
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Thank you both!! That makes me feel better knowing Frankie’s struggle, and that Bryce falls within a normal or to be expected range of scenarios. It’s just a bit of a shocking change to see I suppose. 

We’ve gotten her the gabapentin dose so hopefully with some rest things will feel better in the morning. We have our scheduled 4 week check up next Wednesday, so perhaps X-rays will be part of that if needed. I do rest a bit easier knowing that she hasn’t been climbing stairs, running or jumping or doing anything super strenuous so I’m hopeful that means the hardware is still in good shape. 

I’ll share some updates after her next checkup too!

Thanks again, 

Taja

Virginia




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15 September 2021 - 6:57 pm
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Your regular Vet may be able to offer some insight.  However, if your follow up with her Surgeon isn't  until basically a week from now, I would go ahead and call and  ask to speak to her Surgeon to see if she needs to be seen sooner.  The ONLY reason I say that is not because  of something "bad".     However,  IF.. IF...  IF...  something  with the surgery itself needs ro be addressed,  it may be as simple as outwardly manipulating  the knee, etc.  Nothing invasive or scary!

Give that sweet girl a smooch for us and tell her to rest....even if she doesn't  want to!!

And you rest too!  You've  been through a lot these past weeks.   Every looks better after a good rest.....and after a bowl of ice cream!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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23 September 2021 - 4:11 pm
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Pupdate!

We took her to the vet the day after that post about her sudden lameness and physical exam and radiograph all looked okay. Hardware intact and no infections or anything. Then yesterday we had our 4 week follow up appointment where they did additional radiograph...and discovered a break. It's a tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture to be exact and according to the surgeon it's not very common but it does sometimes happen. Because she's a tripod, she's obviously putting a bit more stress on that one leg than a 4 legged doggo would be. 

There's apparently two different things they look for during a physical exam to determine if surgery is necessary. According to our vet, Bryce presented neither of those things, which is good! She did suggest that it would make sense to have the actual surgeon (who will be in next week) do a physical exam on her too in case she's missed something that his experience would have picked up on. When I spoke to the surgeon (frustratingly over a terrible phone connection where I couldn't hear everything he was saying) he said that we could certainly have him evaluate her if it would give us peace of mind but his opinion is that it doesn't need surgery. I'm obviously inclined to have him check her out...but I'm also wondering if it would make sense to try to get a second opinion as I get the impression that he maybe isn't or hasn't been adjusting the game plane (for recovery too) to the fact that she's a tripod. 

So good news I guess about not putting her through a second procedure, BUT I'm very curious to know how this is going to heal considering she can't NOT use that leg. Of course the Help 'em Up harness is perfect and so very helpful in supporting her, I just can't grasp how this type of thing would heal on its own....My mom, who is a retired OR nurse, is saying telling me bones don't heal without being immobilized but I'm inclined to think that humans and dogs are quite different!

I've been hunting around online for information about the healing of this type of fracture but I'm not finding much and what I do find is more like scientific studies in vet journals and the like--which as a layperson is tough to decipher! 

Also, I've tried to put the image of her radiograph showing the fracture in here and I can't seem to figure out how to insert an image when it doesn't let me browse my computer for a file....so here's a link to the photo instead--hopefully it works! https://drive.g.....sp=sharing

Any suggestions as to resources or opinions here would be appreciated!

-Taja

Virginia




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23 September 2021 - 9:45 pm
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Wow!  What  an ordeal  you and Bryce have been through!  Just sucks!

Other than saying another surgery isn't necessary,  what  WAS there path forward?  Their suggestions?? Their solutions  for healing?  

FWIW, I would get a second opinion where some "solutions" were offered.  You're right, there is only so much that can be done when this is the leg he MUST use.  But what would  they suggest for a four legger??   A sleeve......laser therapy.....pain meds...anti inflammatories....or just let it heal on it's own?   How long would it take for a four legger to heal.  And what exactly is the definition of "healing" in this case?  Hopefully a second opinion, could give you some clarity.   Just throwing things out there as it seems they should be more proactive with a path forward for Bryce's situation. 

I can't  remember  if you have access to a Rehab Specialist,  but there input would definitely  be helpful too.

Bummer this has happened. Bryce is a strong boy though and goodness knows your are a very loving,  caring and very attentive hooman for Bryce♥️     

Extra hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



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24 September 2021 - 10:00 am
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Woah! That's an interesting place where it broke. Yikes!  

It's fantastic that they are leaning toward going the less invasive route first, that's always super smart. As for bones only healing if they are immobilized, that's not exactly true. Think of a clavicle on a human. I broke mine many years ago. There is nothing that can brace the clavicle for healing, and if you immobilize the arm it causes bigger problems, so ortho docs just let it heal on it's own and nine times out of ten it does. Even a rib is the same situation. So not all broken bones get cast.

Have they prescribed rehab therapy? If so remember the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit .

Keep us posted OK? This is a very unusual situation we can all learn from. Thank you so much for sharing.

Sorry your picture didn't show up. This is how adding images to the Forums works.

  • Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own Tripawds blog (https://tripawd...../supporter). Pictures and video have to be hosted (live) somewhere other than in the forums. Unfortunately it doesn't work this way with Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • Once the photo is uploaded somewhere, right click and copy the Image URL or just copy the image if you’re on a phone
  • Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself) in your post. It should automatically appear. 

If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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24 September 2021 - 10:02 am
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I wanted to add that Sally did post some very useful feedback about how exactly they expect it to heal properly. I'm guessing that's where a rehab therapy team will come into the picture.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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24 September 2021 - 10:59 am
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Thanks for the info on images! I've got it now!!

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The surgeon himself did not suggest rehab therapy at all. Though he is the same surgeon who performed her amputation 3 years ago, we've been a bit frustrated with how it seems he hasn't been seeming to take her tripod status into account for the actual surgery or for what it might mean on the recovery side of things. He said this type of things is uncommon but that it does happen because that area where the bone has broken is exactly the spot where they put a stabilizing pin in during the TPLO procedure itself. It's then removed once the other hardware is in place, BUT some studies online say that leaving that pin in post surgery can prevent this exact type of fracture. Considering she's a tripod who HAS to use that leg, and that they gave us the same rehab regimen (increasing walk times, etc) as a 4-legged dog, I'm a bit surprised that he didn't leave the pin in. I've also read that with this type of fracture surgery is the typical treatment because the quad attaches to that portion (or near that portion) of the tibia and so movement of the quad is essentially pulling that portion of bone away from the main chunk. His suggestion of "let it heal on it's own" feels flimsy to me because he did not offer up any recommendations about how exactly we should do that--I didn't leave the conversation feeling like I knew what the game plan needed to be for care and mobility/exercise, etc. To be fair though, our phone connection was incredibly poor and I was only able to hear about 20% of what he was saying to me (and then he got frustrated with me that I was asking him to repeat himself). Overall I'm just feeling a bit let down by him. 

That said, you are right about some bones healing without immobilization. I have also broken my clavicle, but didn't consider the comparison so you bring up a good point! I've made an appointment for a consultation with a different surgeon (who also specializes in TPLO procedures) to get a second opinion. I'm certainly not gunning to put her through another procedure but I do want to make sure that we've crossed all our T's and dotted all our I's at this critical stage. I want to be sure that the route we take is the one that gives her the highest chance of getting back to her normal, adventuring self! 

Despite what looks to be a painful fracture, she seems to be in good spirits! She's eating and drinking normally and actually seems relatively comfortable/free of pain when standing, though we use the help 'em up to assist in the actual getting up stage and when walking around. Lucky for us, she's a very chill dog who is very good at self-regulating so we aren't constantly having to keep her from doing things she shouldn't be doing. No running or jumping or playing is easy to manage with her! 

My hope is that this other surgeon comes to the same non-surgical conclusion but is more helpful in relaying to us what the actual steps for recovery and healing need to be. We'll be able to set up a rehab appointment with the CCRT at that same facility after we get his suggestion so that will be very helpful as well. I have been looking into knee braces as well, both for post TPLO recovery support and possibly to assist in healing of this new fracture but will have to wait to see what the CCRT says regarding that. A lot of the brace designs seem geared toward 4-legged dogs in terms of straps, etc. so it may not even be a viable option for her. 

Here she is, the napping champ:

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