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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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Hind leg amputation for 11 year old cat with end stage arthritis, possible joint stabilization in remaining leg
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
11 February 2021
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9 March 2021 - 9:06 am
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Hi everyone,

I’m looking for similar situations and reassurance hopefully! My 11 year old cat, Eleanor (Ellie), has a strange type of arthritis that is mainly only impacting her hind limbs. The vet diagnosed it a couple years ago and she’s been on glucosamine, briefly an NSAID, and now prednislone with the glucosamine supplement. It’s likely immune-mediated erosive polyarthritis. On x-ray all her other joints look healthy for her age. 

Her left tarsal joint got really bad really fast but both back feet are considered end-stage. She now has a wound leaking joint fluid from her left tarsal area and has a consult on Thursday (March 11) to discuss amputating the left hind leg and potentially surgically stabilizing the right and using an orthopaedic brace. We’ll look at the possibility of a prosthetic for the left hind leg depending on cost and if she’ll have a stump large enough for a prosthetic to work. 

Has anyone had or heard of amputations and joint stabilization related to arthritis? I searched past forums and most seem to be related to cancer or injury. 

The only other option is euthanasia. The vet said the wound on her left limb is not likely to heal so it’s a matter of time for it to get infected if we don’t amputate. She’s full of life, very adventurous and loving. Still jumps?? I don’t know why with how much pain it must cause and we’ve added makeshift steps.. we are building ramps for her and hopefully she’ll use them. She’s still very much herself. I know surgery and orthopaedics will be a lot for her to handle but I’m hopeful she’ll adjust. 

We already have a 1 year old tripawd dog, Gertrude (Gertie). We adopted her from an animal rescue a year ago after learning so much from this forum/website/community.  She’s so sweet and supportive to her sibling. Eleanor will tolerate gentle grooming from Gertrude and Gertie alerts us by whining and running between us and Ellie if she catches her sibling picking at the bandage on her foot. 

I’m not concerned about caring for another tripawd family member .. just worried if I’m doing the right thing for Eleanor. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 March 2021 - 10:34 am
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Hi and welcome (back!), your future posts won’t need approval so post away. 

It’s really great that Ellie is getting checked out by the experts. I love that Team Ellie is also considering the use of a prosthetic. Sounds like she is getting great care! Where are you taking her? I’m nosy 😉

Has anyone had or heard of amputations and joint stabilization related to arthritis? I searched past forums and most seem to be related to cancer or injury. 

You’re right, the majority of people come to us because of cancer, then accidents, then conditions like Ellie’s. It’s not unusual for someone to consider amputation because of osteoarthritis in one leg and a mild touch in the others (see Skyli’s story), but it is less common for amputation and a joint stabilization surgery at the same time. Right now I can’t think of a single one but hopefully an old timer here will refresh my memory. I searched the Forums but couldn’t specifically find a situation like this. Is there perhaps a different term for the type of joint stabilization surgery they are considering?

What I can tell you is that when Tripawds have surgery on a remaining limb it usually happens at a different point in time and while recovery isn’t easy, it is do-able. I wish that I had more input to offer but being that there are few cases to compare Ellie’s situation to, I think you’re best served by getting multiple opinions from different practices before doing anything. You can even get a long distance consult with ortho vet rock star Dr. Sherman Canapp, for extra peace of mind. Ellie sounds like she has a lot of sparkle and spunk left in her so I hope that her team can come up with a solution that will give her a good quality of life.

By the way thanks for adopting Gertie! We are so glad you brought her into your life and hope to get to know her, Ellie and all of you better! 

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