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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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Torn ACL on a little dog - thoughts?
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Los Angeles, CA
Forum Posts: 3554
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26 September 2014 - 10:48 am
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Not Jasper Lily – thank GOD.

A co-worker of mine has a little chihuahua mix that is 13 years old and a bit overweight. She was throwing the ball for him and he tore his ACL. At first the vets told her to do surgery to repair it and then another vet told her to isolate it and let him heal. She is torn (no pun intended) about what to do. He’s doing the bunny hop on three legs right now and she wants to do the best thing for him. 

She has heard/read that ACLs will sometimes heal themselves … I seem to think I’ve heard of dogs here w/torn ACLs. Any feedback or guidance would be great! 

She came to me since she knows what I went through w/Shelby and she definitely wants to do right by her dog… he is her baby and he’s a young 13! Still full of life and personality. But she’s concerned the surgery wouldn’t even fix the leg. 

Thank you!

Alison with the Spirit of Shelby fur-ever in her heart (and little Jasper too) 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Virginia




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26 September 2014 - 10:57 am
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Whew….sorry it happened but so glad it wasn’t Jasper Lily!

Yeah, I’ve heard the same about healing with rest and meds etc. But others with more knowledge will chime in.

Give her hugs from all of us!

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!

Martinsburg, WV
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26 September 2014 - 12:46 pm
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Alison,

I got nervous for Jasper when I saw you started the posting but like you said THANK GOD it’s not her.

Anyway, I have had A LOT of dealings with torn ACL’s (Lucky had both knees go out {at different times of course} and then Leland’s remaining knee went out).  Both my boys were on the larger size than your co-workers but I’ve been told and read that if the knee is left untreated the dog’s gait will be affected as well as arthritis will set in and become very painful.  My husband and I have always gone the orthopedic route of surgery and for larger dogs that’s typically the TPLO procedure (metal plate to stabilize the knee). 

However, Lucky was older (9 yr old) when the 2nd knee went out so we were able to get away with the suture procedure (or as I like to refer to it “the fishing line” procedure).  Since your co-worker’s dog is much smaller this method should work well for her.

I’m sorry that your co-worker is having to deal with this. 

Sahana and her Angel Leland 

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

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26 September 2014 - 1:13 pm
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My dog, Marley 15 years old blue heeler had 2 ACL surgeries in 2008 and 2010.  I am not sure if ACL in small dogs will heal by themselves.  For my dog, she was 60 pound but now is 50 after amputation.  ACL helped her A LOT because hers would not rebuild/heal by herself. 

Los Angeles, CA
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26 September 2014 - 2:22 pm
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leland4 said

However, Lucky was older (9 yr old) when the 2nd knee went out so we were able to get away with the suture procedure (or as I like to refer to it “the fishing line” procedure).  Since your co-worker’s dog is much smaller this method should work well for her.

I’m not familiar with that but I’ll mention it to her. The poor pooch is on Tramadol and some other anti-inflammatory right now – so she says he doesn’t appear to be in pain. 

I would worry too about the gait, etc. I guess, if it was my dog, I guess I would have the same back and forth issues in my mind. And this isn’t about $$$ for her but quality of life and she has heard that post ACL surgery, there are cases where it didn’t/doesn’t even help. I did tell her there were ways to do at-home PT with him so he wouldn’t have to do PT at a place weekly. 

I hate that when people hear “13” they think, oh, it’s an old dog, let him go… but as many here know, little dogs do live long, long, lives … (and bigger dogs too but I’ve only been around little dogs most of my life and by little, I mean less than 30 pounds). 

Thank you everyone! As always… this place is a great resource… 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Columbia, MO
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26 September 2014 - 4:56 pm
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My tripawd Daisy tore and eventually ruptured her right ACL. When she initially tore it the vet had me try conservative management (restricted activity, cold laser treatment, anti-inflammatories).  A torn or ruptured ACL will never actually “heal”.  The hope with conservative management is that enough scar tissue will build up to stabilize the joint.  The drawback is like Sahanna said–you end up with arthritis in the joint.  We tried that for 6 months but she ended up totally rupturing it.  Daisy is an 80 lb dog.

I opted to have lateral suture stabilization surgery on her knee.  TPLO is actually the best option for dogs Daisy’s size but due to her age, other orthopedic issues and the fact that I simply couldn’t afford the $3,000-$4,000 price tag I opted not to go that route.  From what I researched at the time the lateral suture stabilization really works best on smaller dogs.

Hope Daisy’s story helps!

Marla and tri-dogs Daisy & Biscuit

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

Los Angeles, CA
Forum Posts: 3554
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26 September 2014 - 5:10 pm
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Very helpful! Thank you so much for weighing in … this community is amazing! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Livermore, CA




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26 September 2014 - 7:06 pm
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My pug Obie had a partial tear in his ACL about a year and a half ago.  He never cried, or limped.  I noticed one day that his hip and upper leg looked smaller than the other side.  So I watched him carefully and I could see that he favored it when he jumped and sometimes when he sat down.  I don’t think full tears can heal- there is not a lot of blood flow in ligaments, not sure about that though. 

Since it was a partial tear I tried resting him, but it didn’t do any good.  His patella was also luxating pretty badly and that in fact was probably causing the tear.  After consulting a few different vets I decided to do the surgery to fix the patella and the ACL.  I chose surgery because: rest didn’t work, his patella wasn’t going to get better, he was at great risk for really bad arthritis as he aged (he was 6 at the time of surgery).  Our surgeon called it the tightrope procedure.  No screws or plates, just synthetic ‘straps’ to hold the knee together.  He also had to have his knee cap reset which involved making the grove the patella rides in deeper.

It was a very long rehab- which you have to stick to or the surgery could fail.  8 weeks of crate rest (small xpen in our case), only a couple short walks for potty per day.  After 8 weeks then a little more freedom, but no jumping or running, I think that was for another 7 or 8 weeks.  The a few weeks of controlled walks, always on leash.

I am very happy with the results in Obie, after rehab (I did it on my own) he got the muscle tone back and his leg is very strong now.  Unfortunately his other knee cap luxates and at some point we may need to repair that knee too.

 

Karen

 

edited to add that Obie weighs about 16 pounds

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Forum Posts: 92
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25 January 2014
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27 September 2014 - 7:37 pm
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Kasey, my Beagle, had a partial ACL tear in her rear left leg. She limped on it for a few days, then would walk fine, then limp, and then be fine. I finally took her to the vet and found out about the tear. The doctor told me due to the tear surgery was the only choice. If I let it go it would get worse. Recover was hard, I think harder on me than her. I had to limit her jumping and I had to do physical therapy. I had to move her leg in a bicycle motion, which was HORRIBLE because she would whine and cry so loud. Anyway, she is doing just fine now!

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 September 2014 - 9:58 am
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Sorry to hear about the pup. Here’s a post about Conservative Management of Soft Tissue Injuries that may be helpful. Personally I would never jump into this surgery without at least 3 opinions and one from a certified rehab vet.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Los Angeles, CA
Forum Posts: 3554
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29 September 2014 - 11:38 am
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Thank you Tripawd community, as always, for sharing your personal stories and insight. It is so helpful. I definitely would lean toward surgery if it is indeed a full tear. But I think the recovery part sounds intimidating … 

I have passed this info and wisdom to my co-worker and we’ll see what she decides … 

I think, like others here have said, that the effect on the gait and potential for arthritis would be too risky. And if the surgery can fix it, then I would go for it. 

Thank you again!!! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

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