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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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Amputation after a broken bone that didn’t heal-HOW COMMON
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Forum Posts: 5
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7 January 2022 - 12:21 pm
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Hello, 

Let me introduce Suki the Shiba Inu (Couldn’t easily figure out how to add picture and you know all pet owners want to display their dog’s pic!)

I’m sounding more chipper than I am.  I just found your site and have to make the Amputation decision in a couple of days…..I never thought I’d be going down this road for a broken bone.  

Anyway, Suki is a very anxious prone dog.  She’s 8, and looking back it’s been progressing over the years and a few years ago the vet said it would get worse, and it has.

She’s scared of loud sounds and sometimes the not so loud sound (ones we can’t hear).  Some of the things she’s scared of are wind, raindrops on the roof, and of course the dreaded fireworks.  That’s where our story begins.  July 7th, 2021…..Who would have thought there would be fireworks (we didn’t hear them) but she went on her running around anxiously.  Normally we let her be (she is a Shiba Inu after all), we had a “storm” shelter in the basement in the interior bathroom, Well she bolted in there, the door wasn’t all the way open because her bed was in there, she misjudged and bam, into the door.  Broken leg.  Plate after surgery, but her foot flicked out, hmmmmm, then limping started at 5 weeks, ortho vet had no idea, then a blister like spot on the interior of her leg, 8 weeks, they didn’t aspirate as I asked and instead it burst open, they bandaged, said X-rays looked good, sent us on our way.  4 weeks later blisters all on the interior of her leg, thankfully we had checkup with regular vet (she always needs sedated for ANYTHING to do with a vet), it was an infection, staph pseudomonas or something like that.  They felt the plate needed talked out as she was reacting to it and possible osteomyelitis.  So we staged a plate removal.  Since she is a tiny Shiba, 17 lbs, took out middle screws, let them fill in for 6 weeks, then came the day for plate removal.  We could tell she felt better afterwards as far as NOT LICKING at the wrist area all teh time (right where the bottom screws were……there was hardly any room BELOW the break ), anyway, at the 4 week checkup we knew something was wrong, but we never suspected a REFRACTURE!  

My best guess, (and our family vet), there isn’t a whole lot of room below the break to get good stabilization, then the infection, and just the perfect storm.  The break is at an angle too (not sure if that matters).  Anyway, now the ortho vet said to do an external fixator or amputation.  Then came back and said maybe he could use 2 plates (one on top, one on the side which would need removed at 8 weeks).  So we are in decision mode.  It’s not about money (though it’s tough as everyone knows).  It’s about what will work (obviously), and what is best for Suki.

Our family vet said taking into consideration the “whole” dog, she recommended amputation and let Suki get on with being a dog.  Ortho vet seems to really want to fix this (typical surgeon).  It’s a hard decision as you all know, she used to run alongside of us while we rode our bikes on the trails.  I see no matter what option that will never happen again, I just want Suki happy!

I guess my question is,  Are we crazy for considering amputation?  How can a broken bone evolve into this?  (I know you all see/hear more).  

I’m stopping now as I get to rambling, here’s our story, how do we move forward with this decision?

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 January 2022 - 4:51 pm
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Hi Suki and family, welcome! Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away.

I'm sorry you are trying to make this tough decision! You are not alone though. A dog's leg amputation because of a broken bone that won't heal is not uncommon, unfortunately. We see it happen quite a bit. Sometimes a repair works, sometimes it doesn't. The success rate we see here is all over the map. A surgeon can be the best in the world but if the bones are too fragile or small, the repair fails. 

You might want to get a second opinion from another ortho vet. Not that yours isn't any good, but it would be nice to get some peace of mind. Also, if you are near a university teaching hospital you might want to ask about this:

Bone Regeneration Technique Saves Pets Legs at UC Davis

Yes, amputation will get rid of the problem now, and she and you can get on with life. But what one of our favorite ortho vets told us was, that you might get rid of the problem now but it will cause problems later on down the road. That is very true. Tripawds are more prone to arthritis at an earlier age. So if time is on your side and you can look into other options, you might want to do that. 

As a Shiba she would do pretty darn well on 3. Smaller dogs have it a little easier. But there will still be things that you will need to keep an eye on. Moderating her activity is the main one, and her weight of course. It's nothing you can't manage. And dog strollers are a great way to keep her active with you! 

It's not an easy situation. I think the more information you have to decide, the better. 

Stay tuned for more feedback from others.

P.S. 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.
  • 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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7 January 2022 - 4:53 pm
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Oh I wanted to add, that even a cat with a broken leg can bounce back with an external fixator. Check out:

Lulu the Tripawd Cat’s Remaining Leg Surgery Recovery Details

Also, she may be a prosthetics candidate depending on how far down the break is located. Has the ortho vet talked about that? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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8 January 2022 - 10:00 am
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Suki pic

Thank you for all the information.  Truly inspiring stories.  Our Suki hates, hates, hates anything touching her fur.  When we use a harness for bike rides, she always stopped to shake her fur out every few minutes.

You bring up a good point regarding arthritis for front tripawds and I do worry about that for sure.  How much activity is too much?  I see so many videos with these dogs running around.  Given we are in our senior years too, we don’t do the hikes we did in our younger years.   So we wouldn’t be doing those.  I would say we would do more like 2 half mile walks a day.  Otherwise, she loves riding ON the bike with us.  We use a buddyrider and she loves it and it is nice to get her different scenery and experiences.  If my posted pic worked I’ll post a pic of her in the buddyridear, it is one awesome way to get a dog out and about.

Virginia




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8 January 2022 - 10:55 am
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Bummer you nd your sweet pup have had to gp through so much, all to no avail.  Sounds like that one leg has withstood just about all "surgeries" it can handle at this point.  Of course, the professionals  are the ones to guide you on that.

To add more "uncertainty " in your path forward, I'll throw this oit as a reason to look at amputation. LOL🤪

Amputation is one nd done curative surgery....one and done!. Of course, like any surgery there is always a risk of "something".

You mentioned she hates going to the Vet.   There would be one overnight stay at a fully staffed clinic.  Shed ve on good pain meds so should be stressed out.  Then one more Vet visit about 2 weeks later for stitch  removal.  The redoverynis about two weeks.  Short leashed potty breaks and back in for more rest. 

Just throwing this oit there also.   She most likely will develop  arthritis in that leg anyway due to all the prior surgeries, plates, etc.

You can immediately  start hernon joint supplements  and continue  taking any precautions like no high jumping up and down, moderating joint impact, etc

I love the lifestyle you have with her.  Perfect for a tripawd.  You would want to make sure she has plenty  of rest stops on thise walks.  Can maybe make them shorter and do three a day.

Anyway, just wanted to add some FWIW thoughts.  

(((((((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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9 January 2022 - 8:43 am
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Hi! My cat broke his leg 2 weeks ago and got it amputated last week. We could've done screws and wires but the whole scenario you described is exactly what we were trying to avoid by amputating- I'm so sorry that all that happened to you and Suki!! I agree with Jerry about a second opinion also, just to help make your decision. We got opinions from our vet, an ortho, the x-ray tech who read it of course, and a friend of ours who's in vet school. They all said the same thing but it just made us so much more confident we were doing the right thing. 

I agree with Sally that with her already complicated history her leg wouldn't be back to 100% anyway after any surgery. Again I'm a cat owner so take this with a grain of salt, maybe it is really different with dogs. I also just realized an external fixator with a dog who hates anything touching her fur may not be best and healing from that could be longer and more frustrating for her... So I'd vote for amputation personally. I'm sure you know your pup best and you'll make the right decision for her!! sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 January 2022 - 12:03 pm
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gideon1421 said
Hi! My cat broke his leg 2 weeks ago and got it amputated last week. We could've done screws and wires but the whole scenario you described is exactly what we were trying to avoid by amputating- I'm so sorry that all that happened to you and Suki!!

Thank you soooo much for sharing! I'm super happy you decided to reply with Gideon's story! smiley4 Every experience helps!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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11 January 2022 - 5:06 pm
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Thank you all for your input, especially Sally, I love your attitude!

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be taking Suki in to get her front leg amputated because of fracture that didn’t heal. We took her to CSU and their fracture repair plan was same as our ortho vet. We asked what her realistic chances were for it to work, they gave 50%, maybe less, they are concerned of osteomyelitis. Talked about a prosthetic but their input is that there would be lots of visits to fit and then rehab (that’s hard on Suki) and that it can develop pressure sores. So we elected a full amputation with our regular ortho vet since that was already scheduled and CSU is jam packed on their schedule.

They didn’t re-wrap her leg in a supported bandage and it’s so scary with her walking on it and she obviously is going downhill fast. I hope tomorrow is the beginning of a new chapter.

Since walking may be less, we hope she can continue her bike rides and vet thinks she can and thought it was wonderful.

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 January 2022 - 5:37 pm
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You are so welcome! We love Sally's attitude also, she is so important to all of us here.

I'm glad you got to take her to CSU. Ortho care doesn't get any better than those vets (we know firsthand, our Wyatt Ray was cared for by their excellent team). So literally you got the best input in the world, and made the most educated decision possible. Try to take comfort in that as you wait out these next hours and go into recovery mode.

We are sending you Tripawd Power for an uneventful surgery and recovery. Keep us posted!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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Virginia




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11 January 2022 - 6:10 pm
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Okay, a decision  has  been made and it's onward and upward from here on out!!!  I hope you feel some degree of relief knowing your path forward is also supported  by the professionals.  Most importantly,  you have taken into account who  Suki is and every aspect of her personality. 

Suki is completely  oblivious about any upcoming surgery and is only wonder why she isn't  getting any treats or food after midnight  tonight 😉

You, however, can chow down on junk food as a way to calm your nerves.  I find junk food and chocolate very therapeutic for nerves.. or just because!!!.

Yes, we'll all be sending  lots of Tripawd Pawsitive Power to Suki.  Stay connected,  let us k ow when surgery is done, and know that we are all here for you to help navigate thru this one and done  recovery!

Hugs 

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

PS...Gideon....so glad your hooman chimed in.  Good input 👍

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 January 2022 - 3:01 pm
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Suki is 11 days post amputation. You all were spot on.  There were a couple ruff days.  I got depressed, I ate some yummy comfort food stuff.  Suki “got over it all” long before I did.  Today was warm, so we decided to try her on the bike (buddyrider) prop up her left amputated side with a pillow.  SHE LOVED IT!  Just what we needed to boost our spirits!  Then when we stopped at her potty spot, she put her 1 upper leg up on the seat like she used to do with her 2 legs, but she didn’t see a difference she was just happy to be out and knew we were at her favorite area to potty.  Funny thing she has her areas to potty at (even though we have a backyard), but we have to go to these areas about a half mile away.  My husband has been carrying her, or we’ve actually been out in the car and stopped to potty her so now we have our favorite option, a bike ride!  

We are so happy and commit to take Suki out (weather permitting) to various bike trails.  We’ll have to drive to the different trailheads since she might not be able to sit in the seat too long but that way we all get different scenery.  It may sound funny that our purpose will be to get Suki to each of our favorite areas by driving and then biking but then I think I saw a you tube from Jerry?  That had his story of going out in a camper?

The Rainbow Bridge



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23 January 2022 - 5:11 pm
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It may sound funny that our purpose will be to get Suki to each of our favorite areas by driving and then biking but then I think I saw a you tube from Jerry?  That had his story of going out in a camper?

LOL! Tripawd parents will do anything to make sure their hero has quality of life. We totally get it!

I would love to see pics of Suki in the bike thing. Sounds like a trailer? Lucky dog, she has her own limo driver.

So happy recovery is behind you!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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Virginia




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23 January 2022 - 5:16 pm
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Oh gosh+!!  I have some happy tears flowing over here!!!   To read how full of life Suki is and all the joy ahe is having just being Sukie.....yeah.....good happy tears!

My jewett is soooo toiched by the care you five her and the dedication  to jer well being.  The potty spot stories ....OMD!  So cute!!!   And to take her to different places to hike from different trailheads.....this is a very, very loved girl 💖💖

Wo glad you posted the YouRibe.  I had not watched it for quite awhile and it 2as as though I was seeing it all over again for the first time.  Of course knowing  the full story of what Jerry had in store for Jim ans Renne (which is still unfolding on so many levels) makes it so rich to watch now.

And of you love this, be sure and buy Be More Dog by Kerry, Jim and Rene💖💖💖

Got a feeling you may be purchasing an RV.....😎

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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24 January 2022 - 8:07 am
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Suki bikeImage Enlarger

Suki bike2Image Enlarger

Here's the pics. If I failed at posting them correctly, the seat (on the bike) we use is shown at http://www.buddyrider.com

I will definitely check out Be More Dog

The Rainbow Bridge



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24 January 2022 - 10:51 am
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Oh my DOG I LOVE IT! Suki is one lucky pup to be able to travel with you on the bikes. Talk about good medicine for recovery.

I had no idea Buddyrider even existed, thank you for letting us know. It's a terrific thing for smaller dogs! 

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