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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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Need advice for our St Bernard puppy
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10 July 2012 - 10:05 am
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Our 7 month old StB hurt his back knee last week.  Initially they thought it was a torn ligament which now they are leading towards a fractured growth plate.  Either way it would be a specialized surgery which is very costly.  As much as I wish money didn’t matter, unfortunately it comes into play sometimes.  The vet said that if he hasn’t tried to put any weight on it by days 3-4 then it is probably too bad to heal itself.  We are in a small town and there isn’t much experience with large breed amputation but they are suggesting that he will be too large and only cause too much stress to his other leg.  I am making another appointment with a surgeon in the next day or two and was hoping for some more information about amputation from others who have been through the same thing.  My husband is concerned that if we do the amputation and he only makes a few months until he hurts his other leg then we will have to go through all of this again.  It is such a hard decision because he isn’t sick or old… it’s just his knee.  Please help.

10 July 2012 - 10:11 am
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I forgot to add that we live on a farm and he is an outside dog.  I’m not sure if that matters much though.  And he is about 100lbs and will be around 180-190 full grown if he follows his dads path.

The Rainbow Bridge

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10 July 2012 - 11:02 am
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Hi Noms, welcome. I’m sorry you had to join us, though, we know this is a tough spot to be in, especially with a new pup.

You are wise to get a second opinion with a surgeon, that is about the best thing you can do right now. And please don’t feel bad that money is an issue: you’re in good company  here, we all get it, and none of us grow money trees for our animal’s vet care 😉 Plus, just as an observation, but we often get a lot of members who come here after expensive leg repair surgeries don’t heal, or come undone. It’s not that uncommon. 

It’s not too surprising that your vet would tell you that he isn’t an amputation candidate, we often see that kind of analysis when it comes to giant breed dogs. Now, I’m not a vet but what I can tell you is what we’ve seen; Tripawds members come in all sizes, we’ve had some up to 165 pounds do great. However, Saints generally take longer to recover, just because of their laid-back nature, but most will be fine after surgery, especially when cancer isn’t involved.

But, the fact that he is an outdoor pup will pose an extra challenge. First, keeping his incision clean, and making sure he doesn’t overdo activity during the healing stages (which can last a few weeks), will be tough if he’s roaming with the pack. Also, later on, he will might to keep up with them, and wear himself out. Protecting his joints from excessive stress is the goal, and we realize even with an indoor pup, that’s a challenge. Is there any way he can be more of an indoor pup? I know that’s gotta be tough since he’s a farm dog.

I know others will share some wonderful advice here. We all understand you’re trying to do what’s best for him, and will be here to help any way we can. Oh, your future posts won’t require moderation.

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10 July 2012 - 12:16 pm
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Do you know which growth plate was damaged?  Is there a fracture into the joint?  Some of these can heal with splinting even if you can’t afford surgery.  Do you have a stall that he could be confined in? Any procedure or surgery will require confinement so that he can heal.

I do not think that he is too big to handle amputation but since he is still growing that does add a challenge. Is he on a Large-Breed puppy food or an appropriate adult food?  If he is growing too fast or is overweight then that could be part of the problem.  Do you know how he injured his leg?  Are his rear legs taller than his front?  Giant breed pups are very prone to growth deformities and he is big for his age.


15 July 2012 - 10:11 am
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We got good news back from the vet and it looks like Luca just has some type of infection. They won’t know what exactly it is for a few more day but he’s already back to himself with the antibiotics he’s on. He still won’t walk on the leg which just goes to show that he could definitely make it on three. We are keeping him tied up so he can’t run around and it seems to be helping. We don’t know what happened and possibly never will but what a relief it was to see him walk out to me at the vet clinic. It’s so great to know that this website is here with such caring people. We may not have a three legged dog but it sure was nice to have somewhere to go for support.

Thanks so much,

The Rainbow Bridge

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15 July 2012 - 10:45 am
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That’s great news! How did they find out it’s an infection? Any idea what kind? Just curious. 

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