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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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Suki - New TriPawd
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Forum Posts: 10
Member Since:
17 March 2019
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25 March 2019 - 9:27 am
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Today my husband and I dropped off our sweet fur baby, Suki, for her TriPawd surgery.  It has been a wild emotional roller coaster for the past 22 weeks.  Suki is a 95 pound, 13 year old Australian Shepherd, Akita, St Bernard mix.  While my husband and I know she is strong and determined it was still difficult leaving her at the vet’s office especially since she was being so frisky and trying to gallop as best she could on all four paws, with her hind leg leg being in a cast.  As her humans we did our best to start the day like any other day, calm and dotting parents.  Thanks to the information in the ebooks and posts on this blog I reminded her we were doing this out of love for her to regain her quality of life.

This journey began when Suki slipped while jumping into my husband’s Jeep, fell, and landed on her left leg which fractured from the impact.  From there we are now on our fifth surgery in as many months, reminding ourselves we did the best we could to salvage her leg and now having to remove it as we are back to square one.  Suki’s leg went from a break (surgery #1) to a compound fracture a week later after the plate inserted bent from the pressure pit on it (surgery #2).  While additional hardware was added the second time as well as a titanium plate, Suki developed sores on her paw.  With the hope of reducing friction her dew claw was removed (surgery #3).  While the healing progress began the vet noticed a section of her leg had not grown back.  To encourage healing a regenerative bone graph (surgery #4) was performed.

Weeks ago we thought we had finally saw progress when it appeared there were no fractures in her leg.  To restore muscle mass in Suki’s leg the vet began physical therapy.  After a couple sessions we noticed the muscle mass decrease.  Unfortunately, she developed an implant infection. A week into her antibiotics treatment we noticed an odd slope in Suki’s leg.  Due to the infection the implant had separated from her leg resulting in another fracture.  Consulting with a surgeon we made the heart wrenching decision to have the leg removed.  Our only other option was complex reconstruction surgery and a perpetual loop of what we have dealt with the last 22 weeks. 

While we are at peace with our decision and know it will give her quality of life back, it was difficult leaving her at the vet’s office.  I deeply appreciate this community for sharing your thoughts and experiences.  Fortunately a friend whom had a TriPawd recommended this community.  Reading through the ebooks and posts has helped us through the difficult decision and preparing for today. 

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 25417
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25 March 2019 - 9:28 am
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Hi Angela, I’m in the Tripawds Chat for a few minutes, feel free to stop by. Back in a sec with some thoughts.

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




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25 March 2019 - 9:37 am
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WOW!  WHAT AN ORDEAL!  So sorry you  and your pup have had to endure a .ot pf “Murphy’s Law”.  We do find similar  scenarios  here though.  You are DEFINITELY  making the RIGHT decision  for your sweet pup!  

ONE surgery, ONE recovery  and then into living  a life PAIN FREE on three!!

We ate here to help uou through  every step of recovery,  but, honest to goodness, I wouldn’t  be surprised  if he is on the fast track for a smooth recovery. He’s  already been through  the worst of everything.

Back later, but please stay co and let us know when surgery is done.  Is he spending  the night in an overnight  staffed clinic?

((((((((((((((((((((((((((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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 March 2019 - 9:39 am
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Woooah. You should have heard me gasping as I read your story. I’m so sorry for this ordeal. Suki is so fortunate to have such loving and dedicated parents and veterinarians fighting for her. 

Each time we learn of an unusual way that a dog or cat became a Tripawd, we try to share that with the greater pet parent community. Suki’s situation isn’t unheard of here, but it’s so rare in the larger pet world that most people never hear about these things happening.

Jumping out of vehicles seems like such a no-brainer thing when we have a four-legged dog, nobody thinks twice about it. I know we didn’t before Jerry lost his leg. But after he lost his to cancer, and rehab therapists told us what a bad idea it is to let a three-legged OR four-legged dog jump out, we became committed to spreading the word about the benefits of helping our dogs out of vehicles with a harness. I know you didn’t want Suki to be an ambassador for this “cause” if you will, but when others learn how she lost her leg, they will hopefully change how they help their dogs in and out of vehicles, and more dogs lives will be better because of it. 

Amputation is a tough decision, no doubt about it. But as you already know, big dogs can do great on three legs! We are honored that we could be here for you and Suki. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to let us know. And thank you for the kind words and purchasing our e-books.

Don’t forget to share some photos, we would love to see your gorgeous girl. Here’s a post that explains adding images to the Forums, just let us know if you’d like help.

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Livermore, CA




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25 March 2019 - 1:43 pm
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Hello and welcome.

I’m sorry you are dealing with this, it’s crazy how an everyday activity that you never think about can lead to such a catastrophic injury. My first TriPug Maggie actually fell down a short flight of stairs once and hopped away unscathed!   It seems like you have done everything to try and save the leg… I know it’s hard but I bet Suki will be much happier once that painful leg is gone.  And, the recovery period is much shorter than from the surgeries you have tried. 

Recovery can be bumpy, but with all you’ve been through I bet you will deal with it just fine.  You have the advantage (a hard earned advantage) of having seen how Suki deals with pain and pain meds.  For many of us the amputation surgery was our first really big surgery and recovery to deal with.

Do you have any specific questions or concerns?

Keep us posted on how the surgery goes.

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

Forum Posts: 10
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25 March 2019 - 9:11 pm
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Hi Jerry,

Apologies for missing your message.  Unfortunately due to my work environment I have limited access to my cell phone.  Would love to hear your thoughts. 

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25 March 2019 - 10:25 pm
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Sally,

We heard Suki has been doing wonderful today!  Her surgery ended five hours ago.  She has already been up and outside for a couple walks!

This afternoon when the Surgeon called with status she stated she would like for Suki to stay a couple of nights – one night for pain management and a second night so the staff can help her adjust to being a TriPawd.  Given everything Suki has been through my husband and I are good with the cautious approach to avoid issues down the road.

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25 March 2019 - 11:46 pm
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jerry said
Woooah. You should have heard me gasping as I read your story. I’m so sorry for this ordeal. Suki is so fortunate to have such loving and dedicated parents and veterinarians fighting for her. 

Each time we learn of an unusual way that a dog or cat became a Tripawd, we try to share that with the greater pet parent community. Suki’s situation isn’t unheard of here, but it’s so rare in the larger pet world that most people never hear about these things happening.

Jumping out of vehicles seems like such a no-brainer thing when we have a four-legged dog, nobody thinks twice about it. I know we didn’t before Jerry lost his leg. But after he lost his to cancer, and rehab therapists told us what a bad idea it is to let a three-legged OR four-legged dog jump out, we became committed to spreading the word about the benefits of helping our dogs out of vehicles with a harness. I know you didn’t want Suki to be an ambassador for this “cause” if you will, but when others learn how she lost her leg, they will hopefully change how they help their dogs in and out of vehicles, and more dogs lives will be better because of it. 

Amputation is a tough decision, no doubt about it. But as you already know, big dogs can do great on three legs! We are honored that we could be here for you and Suki. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to let us know. And thank you for the kind words and purchasing our e-books.

Don’t forget to share some photos, we would love to see your gorgeous girl. Here’s a post that explains adding images to the Forums, just let us know if you’d like help.

  

We didn’t think much of it until this incident happened.  I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  Hopefully others can learn from our experience and save their dog (as well them self) the agony of a broken bone.  She is already doing an amazing job rebounding from surgery and attempting to get up on her own.  I am grateful the vet technicians are keeping a close eye on Suki to ensure she doesn’t overdue it.

Thanks for the posting on adding images !  Here is a picture of my beautiful girl pre-op.  Once she is back home I’ll share a photo of her as a TriPawd.

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25 March 2019 - 11:56 pm
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We will likely have a lot of questions as we progress in our journey.  One question that has come up is supporting her post op until she is moving about on her own.  We have stairs at every entrance of the house to go outside, which we suspect will make bathroom breaks outside more interesting than they already are.  Prior to Suki’s injury we had bought a help em up harness due to a touch of arthritic pain in her back.  Unfortunately the harness arrived after the injury.  We were wondering if there is a way to use the front portion of the harness and attach something for support of her back half while she is adjusting to moving about on her own.  Also, any advice on navigating stairs, especially for a large strong pup? 

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 March 2019 - 8:39 am
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Awww! What a lovely big ol bear! She is gorgeous. I’m so glad to hear she is doing well! Will she come home today?

Yep, stairs add some complications but many people including me have managed to deal with t hem. How many stairs do you have? We found that the Ruffwear Webmaster was indispensible for them. Did your existing harness not come with the back half? That’s what it’s known for.

For this kind of situation we recently recommended a Webmaster hack using this rear-end harness. I’m guessing you could do the same to your current harness. See:

A DIY Rear End Dog Lifting Harness at Half the Cost

Here’s a  video that shows how we helped Jerry on our crazy stairs. The same applies to a rear-legger like Suki. Just keep in mind that for rear leggers it is much harder to go down stairs than up. Dogs have all their propulsion in the back legs.

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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26 March 2019 - 8:55 am
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Thanks!  She is a sweet and lovable girl.  

The initial plan per the surgeon is for Suki to come home Wednesday as they wanted one night for pain management and another night to help her adjust to moving around on three legs.  The surgeon will call later this morning with an update.  My husband and I suspect the surgeon may stick with her plan to avoid more follow up appointments than necessary. Outside the most we have is five stairs.  Inside we have 8 stairs to head up to the bedroom area.  

The harness comes with a back half.  The surgeon as well as the technicians are concerned the back half with rub against her incision.  Thus they would prefer we not use the back half for a couple of weeks post surgery.  Thanks for the video!  We’re thinking a towel underneath may help support her until she is able to move around on her own. 

Here and Now


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26 March 2019 - 9:00 am
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angelaritchey said
We’re thinking a towel underneath may help support her until she is able to move around on her own.

It is also easy to make this simple sling with handles from a canvas shopping bag.

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 25417
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27 March 2019 - 10:19 am
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Ohhh OK now I get it about the harness issue. Yeah, that could definitely happen with the leg loops. Hopefully you won’t need to lift her rear as much as just generally support her. The shopping bag trick is helpful.

As for the inside stairs, I would block those off and keep her downstairs until the stitches come out. Is there a way you could sleep down there with her in case she gets nervous about not going upstairs at night? Lots of folks with split level homes do end up doing this.

I hope she gets to come home today!

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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28 March 2019 - 8:46 am
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Suki came home yesterday.  The vet provided us with a sling to use for support.  There are a few areas Suki is struggling with, which will be easier with time – willingness to get out of a car and walking on non-carpeted surfaces.  I’ve been putting down area rugs where I can to avoid possible slipping.

We’ve had the inside stairs blocked off since she first broke her leg. The only stairs she is navigating with support are the ones to go outside for bathroom breaks.  

Suki did well in the kennel last night.  Since she broke her leg we’ve worked with her to adjust to being in the kennel at night and when we are not at home.  It requires my husband sleeping downstairs for a few nights as she suddenly had the urge to go potty in the middle of the night.

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 March 2019 - 10:13 am
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Hooorrraaay! Welcome home Suki! That’s wonderful news.

Yeah, slippery floors are a Tripawd’s worst enemy for sure. You may want to look into Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips if your home is totally carpet-free. Runners are great but the Toe Grips help for those situations where Suki will either start taking another path around the house, or when you visit somewhere with slippery floors (like the vet’s office). We recommend gluing the Grips on for a good fit, here are instructions.

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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