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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Tripawd with CCL degeneration in remaining back leg. Any advice?
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Member Since:
25 October 2012
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19 August 2013 - 12:12 pm
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Hi, I have an 8-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier named Rusty. He's been a tripawd for 7 years and he's done great up until recently. We had a scare last year that his remaining hind leg might have a torn CCL (cranial cruciate ligament - basically equivalent to a human ACL), but it turned out not to be a tear, just some soft tissue damage. Rest and anti-inflammatories brought him through. Now, however, I am being told by a Ortho specialist that he has CCL degenerative disease and his ligament is basically deteriorating slowly. Has anyone delt with this? I have done a lot of research. Of course my vet is going to recommend surgery, which may be the option we go with. On the other hand, I've read so much about rest and supplements, and that this is sometimes just as affective as surgery. I just want to do the best thing for my sweet boy, and since he's 8 years old, I worry about his recovery.


Any advice would be great!


Jeannette and Rusty



On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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19 August 2013 - 12:35 pm
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Hi Jeannette! Well, lots of folks have dealt with this situation so I'm hoping some will chime in. Meanwhile, I just want to say that I think it's smart of you to check out all of your options. Here's a great article that gives some tips about taking alternate routes for situations like this:

Conservative Management to Leg, Knee and Hip Surgeries

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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19 August 2013 - 1:29 pm
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Hi Jeanette and Rusty!  Sorry Rusty is having a rough time with his ccl.  My Daisy tore the ccl in her back right leg (she is a left front amp) last October.  I was doing conservative management (my vet's recommendation) on it as I really wanted to avoid surgery since she is a tripawd.  Well May 31st it did finally rupture.  I just could not get her to build up enough scar tissue to stabilize the joint as she kept doing little things to aggravate it (like zooming after the neighborhood stray cat).  Once it ruptured it was awful.  She could barely get around and you could literally hear the bones knocking against each other.

June 13th she had lateral suture stabilization surgery.  It is a less invasive surgery than a TPLO or TTA repair (those two surgeries scared the heck out of me).  I have to say the recovery has been rough and I think it would be even harder when it's the only rear leg but not un-doable.  Murphy is a tripawd member here who had a total hip replacement on his only rear leg and he came thru it like a champ and was such an inspiration to Daisy and I.  You might read up on his story.

I hope the conservative management works.  One of the vet techs at the vet office where Daisy goes has a rear-amp dog.  He also has a torn ccl that they have been nursing along for a couple years with success.  They do laser treatments on him regularly along with anti-inflammatories.  He is about half the size of my 80 lb. Daisy which I think makes a difference too, but conservative management can work.

Good luck!

Marla and Daisy



My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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19 August 2013 - 2:46 pm
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Jeannette and Rusty!

Others will have to give yu their experiences.

Just wanted to welcome you here and know that we are all here to support you and Rusty in anyway we can.

I love Rusty's "mug shot" on his avatar!! Such a cutie pie!

Tell us more about your handsome boy, how he became an amputee, what's his personality like, etc.

Wishing you the very best for your boy Hang in there! Keep doing your research and you'll figure out the best option! You will, really!


Sally and Happy Hannah

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!

Member Since:
25 October 2012
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19 August 2013 - 7:32 pm
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Thanks for your replies so far!

Rusty was found as a stray tied to a police station with an injured rear left leg, so we don't know what happened to him. He was either hit by a car, or god forbid, abused. He spent a year in a wonderful rescue, which was able to pay for his amputation. After a long stint at the rescue, I found him and couldn't resist his sweetness. He is such a sweet and energetic dog! My boyfriend and I love him more than anything and really hope to find the very best route of recovery for his new (ish) injury.


I am leaning toward surgery because I am so worried about the likely arthritis and pain if left uncorrected. On the other hand, I am worried that since he is already 8 years old, he won't recover well from surgery (although he is a very healthy and spunky dog otherwise). I should mention that the vet (a Ortho specialist) doesn't know yet if he has an actual CCL tear, but is suspecting a genetic degenerative ligament disease. He is scheduled for a Joint Tap tomorrow to determine the extent of the injury. Most likely, though, I think the vet will be recommending surgery.


I am still pretty unsure about what to do and am looking for guidance from fellow tripawd pet lovers with some experience on this issue.


Thanks for your concern and advice!


Rusty and Jeannette


Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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19 August 2013 - 7:59 pm
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I wouldn't let the age be your deciding factor if he is otherwise in good health.  Daisy is 8 years old too.  Not only is she missing her front leg (to arthritis) but she also has some dysplasia in her hips along with arthritis in both her hips and spine.  That's partly why I opted for surgery.  She has enough mobility issues without adding the pain and eventual arthritis in her blown knee.

I don't like to tell people what they should or shouldn't do but...if it was me I would do one of the available corrective surgeries.  If the issue is degenerative then it will only get worse until it does completely blow out.

As I said in my post above surgery recovery is rough and it seems like it will never end.  But it does.  It took Daisy 9 weeks to start moving around unassisted.  Keep in mind that they are able to bear some weight on the surgical knee almost immediately but being three legged they need the extra support and it is 8 weeks minimum of absolutely no activity except going out to do their business.  Poor Daisy's muscles are so weak right now it will take a little bit to build her strength back up.

Again, good luck with whatever you decide.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

Member Since:
25 October 2012
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19 August 2013 - 9:03 pm
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Marla, I totally understand what you're saying. I am also hearing that there are non surgical options that seem to have pretty great outcomes too. I am definitely considering all the possibilities, and plan on entertaining a second opinion before I make a decision. Surgery is definitely a possibility! Whatever seems like the best option to make my boy the happiest and healthiest.


Thanks so much for your input. I really am taking it into consideration!


Jeannette and Rusty

Member Since:
19 January 2012
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20 August 2013 - 1:44 pm
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My Nala, (a left front leg amputee) just recently had her second TPLO to repair her left CCL.  She had bilateral partials that turned into full tears, even though I was keeping her relatively calm (she is a young pittie, so that's quite a feat in and of itself) and doing rehab.  The two surgeries were 8 weeks apart -- the first being on the same side as her remaining leg.  I am thankful that there is an orthopedic surgeon in nearby Mill Valley (we are in Oakland, CA) that is astounding.  I am very happy that we did the TPLO surgeries -- I'm pretty confident that she will be back in action in 3-4 months time when she is all healed-up.


So, I have no regrets in doing the TPLO, particularly with Dr. Sam's expertise.


Of course, she's also on a ton of supplements and she has a homecooked diet to keep her lean and healthy.





20 August 2013 - 1:52 pm
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Thanks for your input Mara, your Nala has been through a lot! your future posts will not require moderation.



On another topic- we have a Nor Cal group that gets together every few months at the dog park in Mill Valley, we have a tentative plan for October 12th.  If you are interested keep an eye on the Tripawd Party forum.



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