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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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5 year old GSD Spinal Stroke
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Member Since:
30 January 2024
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30 January 2024 - 4:01 am
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We had never heard of a spinal stroke before, but our beautiful black GSD suffered one a little over 6 months ago. Initially she lost all use of her right hind leg. After physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture treatments, there was substantial improvement. We do short, slow walks where she has the time to focus and use the leg/foot properly. However, Lexi still knuckles under, drags the foot, and has slips where the bad leg takes out the good leg when turning around or taking corners. 

The veterinary surgeon, physio, and acupuncture specialists all tell us Lexi has reached the extent of her recovery, and the leg will not improve further. 

Our options are to persist knowing the leg is as good as it's going to get, or amputate it.

We want what is best for Lexi, to give her the best quality of life. I wish she could speak to us and tell us what she needs.

Anyone else been in this position, with the same condition?


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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30 January 2024 - 9:41 am
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Hello to sweet Lexi and her hoomans.  Your post has been approved.

Ypu clearly adore Lexi and are doing everything  ppssible  for her.  The  improvements  are a direct result of your care and devotion  and a good supportive treatment.

Hopefully others can chime in with feedback specific  to your situation.  The creator  of this site is GSD savvy  and may have knowledge  on this subject. 

Couple of questions in the meantime.

How old is Lexi?

The therapy she has been doing is done by a CERTIFIED REHABILITATION SPECIALIST?

Is everyone on board as far as her "medical team" saying that amputation  is a good option?  By that I mean  do they say once the bum leg is gone she has no other symptoms  from the stroke?  Is she no longer physically  affected by the stroke other than that leg??  Hope my questions make sense.

Also, you might want to pose this question to our "volunteer  Vet" under Ask A Vet forum. 

Stay connected  and know we wre here to support you in anyay we can.


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

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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30 January 2024 - 10:31 am
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Hi Yvonne and Lexi, welcome. I'm sorry you are in this difficult situation! I had never heard of an FCE (Fibrocartilaginous Embolus/Emboli) either, until many years ago when a Tripawds member's dog had one. I've been searching for that post but can't find it. Grrr.

Has Lexi been evaluated by a neurologist yet? I would want that opinion before making any decisions. 

Rehab / physios tell us that for something like this, at least six months is required before making any choices about something as big as amputation. You've done good by getting her into physio and acupuncture. Still, I'd want that neuro opinion unless there's a reason your vet feels that it wouldn't be the right type of specialist.

Many GSDs with degenerative myleopathy don't use their back legs but by keeping their feet in booties, they are protected and not causing problems. There is also something called a "Toe Up" device that they use to keep a paw from knuckling and causing problems, have you seen this? 


I'm actually talking to the creator of this product today for our tripawd talk podcast!

If it's more about the leg and not the foot that's causing issues, that's a whole other situation it would seem. If amputation is still on the table, I'd want a full workup to make sure that the FCE hasn't compromised her in other ways that would be exacerbated by being on three legs. Not sure what type of diagnostics would be needed but my guess is an MRI? Has she had workups like this in regards to seeing if she's a candidate for an amputation?

Member Since:
30 January 2024
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1 February 2024 - 9:25 pm
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We're in Australia, and the treatments so far have just about emptied the bank accounts. I haven't heard of a neurologist for dogs, the vet hasn't mentioned that.rnI bought Lexi a Toes-up boot, took 6 weeks to get to us here, and then discovered the boot should have been the next size up. We can get it on her, but it twists and loosens at the Velcro on her leg and then the boot also twists.

We love her, but just can't afford additional ongoing treatments or specialists.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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2 February 2024 - 10:53 am
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Yvonne, we totally get how expensive this can be. You have done such an incredible job getting Lexi as far as you have. Many people would not have been able to do that, so be proud of what you have achieved together! 

I would ask Therapaw if there's anything you can do on your end to make the boot fit better. 

From what I read, FCEs aren't supposed to recur. So you can feel pretty confident knowing that she will likely do fine with that bad leg gone. GSDs do have their issues because of their low back end, but there's so much you can do at home on your own to keep her strong for the rest of her life. Our Wyatt was a rear-leg amputee GSD from the time he was a puppy, and he made it to 12. We kept his weight down, monitored activity, and he had a great life on three. Lexi can too!

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