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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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My Yorkie's Story
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Forum Posts: 2
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23 January 2019
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23 January 2019 - 10:35 am
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Greetings,

We brought our healthy active Yorkie (Bailey) to daycare this past Saturday, only to pick him up with a broken femur on rear left leg. After multiple X-rays and a supporting CT scan, the break which was very close to the femur head was diagnosed as unrepairable, and his left rear has since been amputated. While we’re still awaiting biopsy, I’m crushed and confused as to how such an active, completely asymotomatic dog, who could run 20mph and turn on a dime repeatedly as recently as the week before; as well as jumping up/down on furniture and who is actually more sedate and standoffish in a daycare environment (so unlikely he was being very active based on his personality) can end up so be devastatingly injured. Not only am I concerned with his future well being and prognosis, but I am so freaked out hoping that his right rear never incurs any injury as I’d be beside myself with his future care as we’re out of the house for>8 hours/day as it is. As a four legged dog, he had run of the house while we were at work. Now, as a tripawd, it will be necessary to kennel him (at home – no more outside facilities anymore) to keep him safe from future harm. I have some questions if I may:

1. Presently he’s wobbly as he’s learning to adjust. Will that leg strengthen and leave him more stable?

2. He’s never suffered injury from luxating patella to date, but his breed is prone, and he’s been diagnosed as having luxating patellas. What does the added strain mean now, and will he now be more susceptible to injury there?

3. His daily 20 minute walks. Once he’s healed, can we continue, or does #2 above get exacerbated by doing so?

4. Will he be able to jump on furniture or climb stairs as he could before or will he need assistance now?

He’s only two days into healing, still on pain meds, still hasn’t pooped (and I’m wondering how he will once able), and we’re still absorbing. I’m sure I’ll have more questions later. Thanks for your compassion, feedback and acting as a valuable resource.

Jim

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23 January 2019 - 10:40 am
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Hi Jim, welcome. I see you’re online? I’m in the Tripawds Chat right now if you want to talk. Back here in a sec with feedback.

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



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23 January 2019 - 11:04 am
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I am sooo sorry about what happened to Bailey. What a terrible shock! What did the daycare manager say? Could he have been accidentally stepped on by a larger dog? We’ve seen that happen with our members, unfortunately. However it happened, now you guys are here, and life has changed for all of you but by no means is life going to be sad or boring. Promise! Hopefully we can put your mind at ease. Let me try to answer your questions:

1. Presently he’s wobbly as he’s learning to adjust. Will that leg strengthen and leave him more stable?

Bailey is so full of pain meds right now (I hope…what’s he taking?), and his body has been through a lot. So yes, he will get stronger and less wobbly as time goes by. But, you can play a huge role in his recovery by getting up to speed with the right and wrong kinds of activity for a Tripawd (see our e-books library), keeping him slim and having him evaluated by a canine rehabilitation therapist asap. Generally about two weeks post-surgery is a good time to see one, so they can teach you how to help him get stronger and stay injury free. The best part is the Tripawds Foundation may pay for your first rehab visit so check out the link and make the appointment today as many centers have long wait times to get in.

2. He’s never suffered injury from luxating patella to date, but his breed is prone, and he’s been diagnosed as having luxating patellas. What does the added strain mean now, and will he now be more susceptible to injury there?

It’s good you already know that about him. That’s another reason why establishing a relationship with a canine rehab therapist will benefit you both. Not only will Bailey start getting the right kind of exercise for a three-legger, and one with luxating patellas, but should he start to show pain indicators, you already have a contact who can help you pinpoint the cause and get Bailey feeling good again.

3. His daily 20 minute walks. Once he’s healed, can we continue, or does #2 above get exacerbated by doing so?

As we talk about in the Tripawds Gear blog and our e-book Loving Life On Three Legs , rehab therapists tell us that Tripawds do best when they take shorter, more frequent walks of 15 minutes or less throughout the day. A therapist can tell you if he’s ready for longer walks. Meanwhile many Tripawds members have found pet strollers to be very beneficial for times when you want walks to go longer but it’s not in the best interest of your Tripawd.

4. Will he be able to jump on furniture or climb stairs as he could before or will he need assistance now?

What we have learned from therapists is that it’s not the best idea for any dog or cat to jump on and off furniture. They get into the habit, then when they age and it becomes difficult, problems happen. For a Tripawd, jumping off furniture is especially risky unless that furniture is really low to the ground. What is always best for an animal at any age is to incorporate things like pet steps and ramps into their environment.

Oh and as for pooping, he will surprise you with that one. Most dogs and cats take a few days to get regular movements back, the pain meds do a number on their GI system. You can expedite things by adding steamed squash or pumpkin pulp to his food.

I hope this helps! Let us know how recovery is going. We are here to help.

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




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23 January 2019 - 11:47 am
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Hi Jim, welcome to you and Bailey.

I’m sorry Bailey had a broken leg and that it could not be fixed. My current Tripawd Elly, a small Pug mix, was hit by a car at 7 months old and lost her right rear leg, the femur could not be repaired.

Elly is bigger than Bailey (I assume based on the Yorkies I’ve met) at about 15 pounds, and is now 4 years old.  She can do pretty much anything a 4 legger her size and age can do, but I do try and restrict some activities.  I have stools or small stairs near all the furniture she is allowed on (I’ve had small dogs for 20 years so those are really the norm around here).  Elly always uses them going up but still occasionally jumps down when she is excited.  We also live in a split level house so stairs are a constant, Elly has no problem going up or down.  She has learned to wait at the top or bottom of a flight when I tell her if I’m coming right back- it saves a little wear and tear.  My first Tripawd Maggie, a Pug who lost a back leg to cancer, could never do more than 2 or 3 stairs going up post amp, she could go down just fine.

We go on shorter walks and spend more time on the grass at nearby parks.  There are hills and the grass tends to be deep so she gets a workout walking around sniffing and looking for gophers.  I do have a stroller, well actually I have two- over the years all of my last 4 small dogs have needed them at one time or another due to age or recovery from surgeries or just so I can go on a longer walk without hurting them.

Elly has the run of the house just like Maggie did, they both have/had access to the yard through a dog door.  Once healed up maybe you can block off the parts of the house you are worried about for him?

As far as pooping goes- they all seem to figure it out.  The pain meds can be constipating, it’s not uncommon for poop to take a few days.  Back to Maggie- she had to spin before she could poop- she had done it her entire life.  After her amp at 7.5 years old she would try and fall down- I assumed she wouldn’t be able to do it and would have to learn to poop without the spin.  But around day 7 post op she managed to spin a few time and keep her balance!  From then on she was back to her normal spin and poop routine.

I second Jerry’s recommendation to see a rehab specialist, especially with the patella issue.  Some small dogs live their entire lives with luxating patellas without too much problem, but with only one back leg you want to stay ahead of any issues.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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

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23 January 2019 - 1:45 pm
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Hi Jerry,

Thanks for your reply and helpful resources. I neglected to mention that the diagnosis was a pathalogic condition of the bone. At this time, they don’t know the cause, but have sent the tissue out for biopsy.

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