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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This is my first post here. I run a small Rottweiler rescue organization in Texas. Last February I agreed to take in a little 12 week old pup found wandering with a broken hind leg. I took her to my vet as soon as she arrived. Sadly, the leg could not be saved. The surgery and recovery went well and we both survived the recovery process…this was my first experience with amputation, so I was pretty much a basket case!
All has been well since then and Tipper, now 16 months, has grown to be a lovely young lady, but it seemed that no one but I saw the beauty in this three-legged Pitweiler. Finally, a wonderful family wanted to adopt her. When I took her to the vet for her final wellness check, a mentioned to the vet that Tipper seemed to have some kind of irritation and redness at the incision spot. I wondered if it was possible that the bone in her stump had grown too long. We did x-rays and my worst fears have been realized. My regular vet and my orthopedic surgeon both agree that Tipper needs to have another surgery to shorten the femur by half!
Is this normal? Why would the femur have been amputated below a growth plate the first time? The very least of my concerns is that now we have an adoption on hold, maybe lost. The big thing is that my baby has to go through this all over again!
Please somebody talk me off the ledge…
Hello, thanks for joining us, and for doing your pawesome rescue work. I’m not quite sure why this happened, but with her age and all, it seems like it’s entirely possible. Many dogs who don’t have cancer and need a rear leg amputation often get a mid-femoral amp. I have no idea why the surgeon wouldn’t take into account that she was still growing, I wish I knew.
Try not to worry. As you already know, dogs recover quite fast from this surgery (compared to humans) and once it’s over, you won’t have to worry about it again.
A Pitweiler…that’s cute! We hope to hear more about her, and that she gets to keep her wonderful family.
Wow. That’s a shame. Poor Tipper and poor you. My ortho nearly always dislocates the bone at the hip and takes the entire leg. I wonder if that is, in part, to avoid this problem. ? I don’t know. I also wonder if the fact that Tipper was so young when she had her first surgery has something to do with this. Hopefully someone will come along who can provide you with answers, not just more questions!
But do come down off the ledge. The good news is Tipper’s already a tripawd. No new learning curve for her! =) And, you’ve been through an amp before so know what to expect!
And hopefully the family will wait for her. Or, maybe Tipper’s sneaky and had the timing of this all planned out so she could stay with you. 😉 Good luck to you both.
26 August 2010
Hi! This actually sounds perfectly normal and nothing to worry too much about. It sounds to me, given her age, that her growth plates weren’t completely sealed and the amputation didn’t help with that issue – the bone never got the signal to stop growing. Not sure why your original vet didn’t take this into consideration, but perhaps it’s just one of those things.
Your girl should be fine…a quick recovery at this point, and hopefully no more surprises in the future. Remember to tell her potential-future-fosters that this will be a much quicker recovery since she’s already been through the learning curve as someone else said. That might help keep them in the picture.
Best of luck! Let us know what happens!
Jack - adopted with a crooked leg at 4 months old, managed for six years, and now much-happier Tripawd as of 5/24/2012!
13 September 2011
Only your left ear? What about the other ear and the rest of your face??? I’m sure it is better than any facial.
Tipper sounds and looks adorable!
Good luck with the surgery. Please let us know how she goes.
Karen and Spirit Magnm
Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/
29 October 2010
Being a tripawd pawrent is pretty awesome, isn’t it? Figured she was not going anywhere when you referred to her as “my baby” in your first post.
Our pup was a front leg amp, so I don’t have any advice or wisdom to offer as far as the 2nd surgery, but as the others have said, she should come through it fine – and she’s already got the 3 legged thing down, so she should be back to her sweet self in no time.
Wish I had an ear-cleaner! All I get is the occasional hand kiss and a lotta nose-pokes!
Keep us posted on how she does.
Jackie, Angel Abby & nose-poke’r Rita’s mom
Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!
30 July 2010
Sorry to hear about the second surgery, my dog and I are going through some not-fun adventures. We got through amputation 2 years ago, but 2 weeks ago she had a foxtail removed from her mouth and on Friday she needed her insides scoped. I understand your frustration because things don’t get done the first time and you have to keep putting your dog under more procedures to ‘fix’ them.
Take a deep breath and once the surgery is done and things have settled down, you can dye your hair to get rid of the new greys . Welcome to the club.
Chloe became a rear amp tripawd on 7-29-10. Another tumor was removed on front leg 2-20-14. Found 3rd tumor on neck 2-2015, but she's still kicking cancer's butt at age 14. Chloe's blog
I did not want this dog. When the shelter (200 miles away) broadcasted an urgent plea for rescue I ignored it. Surely someone closer would step up. Besides, it was a fuzzy picture, couldn’t confirm she was a Rottweiler. I ignored that darn posting for 3 days, till they said her euth date was the next day. Alright, alright, I’ll take her, I said, but I can’t get there, you have to bring her all the way to me. Figured they’d pass. Wouldn’t you know, they actually arranged transport and sent her to me the next day. and when the transporter opened the door, well SHOOT – NOT a Rottweiler! She’s a Pit Bull in a Rottweiler suit!
Left her at the vet’s and she had surgery the next day. Scared the heck outta me as I’d never dealt with an amputation before. But she was sweet and just a little cuddle bug. At just 5 months old she decided it was her responsibility to nurture a litter of pups just 5 weeks her junior, and she’s been raising foster pups for me ever since. For more than a year I’ve shown her to every prospective adopter who came to meet another dog. Every one was amazed at how normally she gets around (why do people think 3-legged dogs are invalids?), how sweet, funny and beautiful she is. But nobody wanted her.
And then one day, someone did. Someone perfect, someone I couldn’t have even dreamed up better. With lots of soul-searching I finally decided that they could give her a better life than I can, and that it was best for her to let her go. Hence, the final vet well-check and the realization that she needs another surgery. I still struggle with guilt over my own selfishness in wanting her to stay with me and what is truly best for her. She blindsided me, what can I say?
Well this will be our last ‘normal’ weekend for a bit. Tipper is scheduled for her surgery Tuesday, 8/7. I find myself watching her every day – the smile on her face, the way she races around the yard and the house when she gets her ‘zoomies’, the way she climbs up behind me on my recliner, puts her front paws on my shoulders and licks my lef ear almost OFF! Gawd I love this girl. I ache knowing the pain and fear she will have next Tuesday. Somehow I feel like I’m betraying her.
This is ridiculous. I am a rescuer. I deal with this and more every single day! Just something about this girl. She has touched me someplace deep.
Awww what a special pup she is! I’d love to see some video and pics!
OK, remember, you are not betraying her, you are doing what is best for her long term health. It’s hard not to second guess your decision, especially during recovery when things can get ruff, but in a few weeks you’ll see how well she does and wonder why you were ever so worried. Remember, it’s always worse for the humans. Be strong, and so will she.
Good luck on Tuesday, keep us posted.