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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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Survey: What to Expect as a Tripawd Ages
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The Rainbow Bridge



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23 January 2013 - 4:13 pm
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These general questions are for all of you Tripawds who have been living life on three legs as a senior citizen.

Whether you lost a leg because of cancer or have lived with three legs all your life, can you tell us:

  • What’s it like to be a senior Tripawd?
  • How do the senior years affect you?
  • Has mobility gotten harder or stayed the same as you aged?
  • What kind of extra accommodations, if any, have been made to ensure you are happy and pain-free?
  • What would you say to someone who has a young Tripawd? What would you tell them to expect as their Tripawd ages?
  • Anything else you’d like to tell us about being older on three legs is greatly appreciated!

We’d love to hear your stories, please feel free to share as much as you’d like. Thank you.

 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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24 January 2013 - 11:14 am
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jerry said
These general questions are for all of you Tripawds who have been living life on three legs as a senior citizen.

Whether you lost a leg because of cancer or have lived with three legs all your life, can you tell us:

  • What’s it like to be a senior Tripawd?

Maggie says it can be tough at times…endurance is far lacking.

  • How do the senior years affect you?

Walks are shorter.  Sleep more.  Lay around more.  So Mom does PT work with me to get me moving and make sure I get some nice short walks.

  • Has mobility gotten harder or stayed the same as you aged?

A little harder because I have spondylosis in my lower back and that is starting to bother me.  My lower back gets sore from time to time.

  • What kind of extra accommodations, if any, have been made to ensure you are happy and pain-free?

Recently got a Back on Track coat for Maggie, she wears it nightly.  She is on boswellia and MSM for pain and also Alenza supplement.  Keep exercise to a limit she can handle and not overdo it.  Keep her PT work up as it keeps her noticeably stronger.

  • What would you say to someone who has a young Tripawd? What would you tell them to expect as their Tripawd ages?

I would say don’t let them over do the exercise!  Put them on a joint supplement and Omega 3 oil.  Keep them thin.  Just because a dog wants to run and play hard, we have to ask “should he/she?”…for long term health.  I would tell them to expect if it’s a rear leg amputee, that the hindend is going to weaken and probably more so than a four legger, understandably.

 

Tracy & Maggie

 

 

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09

Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13

http://maggie.t.....t-24-2013/

The Rainbow Bridge



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24 January 2013 - 12:45 pm
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Thank you Tracy, this is GREAT information. We would like to have more insight like this about senior Tripawds, especially ones who have been on three legs for a year or more, so the more examples the better. Thanks everypawdy!

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24 January 2013 - 6:36 pm
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Yes, thank you!  Great advice, since Jackson is only 8.  He so wants to play and we let him, but he surely doesn’t play very long.  That’s OK.  We get it.  But, I’d hate to NOT let him play.  That’s quality of life for him.  I’m hoping the omega oil and hip/joint supplements keep what he has safe and intact…so we can play!  Oh, yes, and his exercises keep him limber and balanced. big-blinkbig-blink

Keep posting tips, all you senior tripawds.  I want to read more!  Thanks, Maggie!

ACL tear in right hind leg 12/5/12 and scheduled ACL repair surgery 12/21/12. Pre-op xrays revealed osteosarcoma. Amputation 12/28/12.  Chemo (carboplatin) started Jan 10, 2013 and ended on April 5, for a total of 5 doses. He handled carbo like a champ!  No side effects.  We started metronomic therapy at his third chemo and have been also doing some holistic treatments.  He's a lively, playful 10 year old huskie-boarder collie and a very proud member of the Winter Warriors!  Our love. Our funny little guy!

Portage Lake, Maine
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24 January 2013 - 7:12 pm
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Yes, thank you!  Great advice, since Jackson is only 8.  He so wants to play and we let him, but he surely doesn’t play very long.  That’s OK.  We get it.  But, I’d hate to NOT let him play.  That’s quality of life for him.  I’m hoping the omega oil and hip/joint supplements keep what he has safe and intact…so we can play!  Oh, yes, and his exercises keep him limber and balanced. big-blinkbig-blink

Keep posting tips, all you senior tripawds.  I want to read more!  Thanks, Maggie!

——————————–

 

You’re welcome!  What type of exercises do you do with your Jackson?  I see in your signature line he was first diagnosed with an ACL injury?  Maggie was too!  Took my three vets to get correct diagnosis…

 

Tracy

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09

Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13

http://maggie.t.....t-24-2013/

New Haven, CT
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24 January 2013 - 8:12 pm
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Right now, we’re working on establishing an exercise routine.  You do yours 3 times a week for like 5min?  That sounds good to me.  Things that I’ve been doing with Jackson are stand-sit-stands, I bring his nose between his front paws and back to his hips (with treats!) to work his abs and balance, I’ll do weight-shifting by gently moving his hips left to right, and walking on the couch (he also does this on his own and on our bed).  He’s great at all of these and doesn’t realize they are exercises, as he’s getting little nibbles!  Other times, I stretch his legs forward and back, when he’s down and on his side, but he doesn’t like that so much – either b/c it’s too much touching (see below) or I’m doing it wrong.  Tonight, though, I gave him a massage down his spine and right behind his shoulder blades, his back started twitching.  I think he was a little tight or tender there!  So I kept at it, gently, in circles and he closed his eyes and seemed to like it.  This is bizarre for Jackson, as he’s got a pretty big personal bubble.  He’s not a cuddler.  He’d rather be left alone on the floor or his bed to rest and sleep solo.  On walks, he’s really good at placing his rear foot where he wants it.  There are curbs on all his walks and he can hop on/off those like a champ.  He’s also excellent on the stairs.  We’re really impressed with his mobility and nimbleness!  We just need to keep it that way.

The idea behind his ACL was that the growing tumor, at the top of his tibia, was stressing the knee, weakening it.  So some playful afternoon, he partially tore it.  It was really clear then that it was a soft tissue injury.  Then 2 months later, he did something offleash (up at grandma and grandpaw’s) and tore the whole thing.  The ER vet who saw him knew exactly what it was (full ACL tear) and didn’t bother with xrays.  I was thankful, as xrays are pricey!  So we stabilized his pain, allowed the swelling to drop, and booked his ACL surgery.  Now you know the rest….  The good news is that we decided to move on the ACL surgery when he did, rather than wait months to see how he managed.  That delay would have left that damn tumor to do its nasty thing.  All that said – I wish it were only an ACL!  I was unhappy about an ACL repair cost and post-op burden, but I had comforted myself by saying ‘at least its not cancer’.  Well….  damn.

ACL tear in right hind leg 12/5/12 and scheduled ACL repair surgery 12/21/12. Pre-op xrays revealed osteosarcoma. Amputation 12/28/12.  Chemo (carboplatin) started Jan 10, 2013 and ended on April 5, for a total of 5 doses. He handled carbo like a champ!  No side effects.  We started metronomic therapy at his third chemo and have been also doing some holistic treatments.  He's a lively, playful 10 year old huskie-boarder collie and a very proud member of the Winter Warriors!  Our love. Our funny little guy!

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26 January 2013 - 12:25 pm
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This is one of my big questions. Maggie and Blinks (my Weims) summer routine is to go on horseback rides. Out my back door is about 3-4 miles and on weekends on the trail for 5-10 miles. The dogs run 10 times more than the actual miles. I know this won’t be possible for Maggie now but I think I could take her on a short 3 mile ride and make her stay by my side. She is 5 years old and a little over 1 month post front leg amp and she is going great guns running and jumping. Her 4 year old partner is unfortunately encouraging her on. So my question is, would it be okay for her to go on short rides as long as I watch her energy levels? She has no arthritis or other health issues.

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27 January 2013 - 1:10 pm
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penny4weims said
So my question is, would it be okay for her to go on short rides as long as I watch her energy levels? She has no arthritis or other health issues.

Rehab vets would say that a 3-4 mile ride is too long for a Tripawd, even a young one. But we know of dogs like Bart the Vizsla who is a young gun dog in excellent shape and can handle something like that without a problem. Bart took a couple of years to work up to this kind of activity, and his mom makes sure he’s not a “weekend warrior”, which can lead to excessive problems. Bart’s Mom always does regular daily exercise with Bart. So if you want to try it I would say to keep her lean, start a good, daily exercise program and see what you can work up to, slooooowly and gradually. That’s my non-veterinary opinion, take it with a grain of salt.

Come on Senior Tripawds, I know you’re out there, let’s hear some more examples of how you are aging. Thanks!

 

 

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27 January 2013 - 2:21 pm
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Right now, we’re working on establishing an exercise routine.  You do yours 3 times a week for like 5min?  That sounds good to me.  Things that I’ve been doing with Jackson are stand-sit-stands, I bring his nose between his front paws and back to his hips (with treats!) to work his abs and balance, I’ll do weight-shifting by gently moving his hips left to right, and walking on the couch (he also does this on his own and on our bed).  He’s great at all of these and doesn’t realize they are exercises, as he’s getting little nibbles!  Other times, I stretch his legs forward and back, when he’s down and on his side, but he doesn’t like that so much – either b/c it’s too much touching (see below) or I’m doing it wrong.  Tonight, though, I gave him a massage down his spine and right behind his shoulder blades, his back started twitching.  I think he was a little tight or tender there!  So I kept at it, gently, in circles and he closed his eyes and seemed to like it.  This is bizarre for Jackson, as he’s got a pretty big personal bubble.  He’s not a cuddler.  He’d rather be left alone on the floor or his bed to rest and sleep solo.  On walks, he’s really good at placing his rear foot where he wants it.  There are curbs on all his walks and he can hop on/off those like a champ.  He’s also excellent on the stairs.  We’re really impressed with his mobility and nimbleness!  We just need to keep it that way.

 

Awesome on his PT work!  Yes, I do Maggie’s at LEAST 3 times a week for 5 minute sessions.  If the weather is yucky like now here in Northern Maine, she’s getting more of it during the week just to keep her moving some!  Yes, the twitching is a sign of muscle spasms…so glad you got to work on him and get rid of them!  Maggie sometimes gets that behind her front shoulders and her lower back.  Maggie LOVES massage work smiley

The idea behind his ACL was that the growing tumor, at the top of his tibia, was stressing the knee, weakening it.  So some playful afternoon, he partially tore it.  It was really clear then that it was a soft tissue injury.  Then 2 months later, he did something offleash (up at grandma and grandpaw’s) and tore the whole thing.  The ER vet who saw him knew exactly what it was (full ACL tear) and didn’t bother with xrays.  I was thankful, as xrays are pricey!  So we stabilized his pain, allowed the swelling to drop, and booked his ACL surgery.  Now you know the rest….  The good news is that we decided to move on the ACL surgery when he did, rather than wait months to see how he managed.  That delay would have left that damn tumor to do its nasty thing.  All that said – I wish it were only an ACL!  I was unhappy about an ACL repair cost and post-op burden, but I had comforted myself by saying ‘at least its not cancer’.  Well….  damn.

 

Thanks for the ‘rest of the story’…but yeah, I sure can relate to wishing it were “just” an ACL tear! 

Tracy & Maggie

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09

Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13

http://maggie.t.....t-24-2013/

Rainbow Bridge
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27 January 2013 - 4:19 pm
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  • What’s it like to be a senior Tripawd?

It’s Pawsome!  Max is 13 this year and he’s been a tripawd for at least 6 years (maybe more, but I adopted him when he was 7 and he was already one then from being hit by a car). 

  • How do the senior years affect you?

He’s grumpy at times, but otherwise he doesn’t seem to be too affected by his age.  He sleeps a lot more than he used to.

  • Has mobility gotten harder or stayed the same as you aged?

Max gets around really well. I’m thankful that he keeps his weight down (he’s very catlike and even if I put the whole bag of food down, he’d only eat what he needed).  He is very active, but doesn’t have a lot of stamina.  He’s good for about a block.  When he’s done walking, he just lays down in a yard.  So, I know now not to go too far. 

 

I now put a ruffwear harness on him when we leave the house just to help him get into the back of my hatchback.  He can make it on his own, but sometimes it’s close so I give him just that little boost to give him confidence.

 

He can still hop up onto my bed which has pretty high boxspring/mattress, but he hesistates alot more before making the attempt. 

  • What kind of extra accommodations, if any, have been made to ensure you are happy and pain-free?

I got a raised food/water dish since he’s a front leg amputee so it’s more comfortable for him to eat.  He seems to really like that and the fact that my other dog can’t reach it ;)

  • What would you say to someone who has a young Tripawd? What would you tell them to expect as their Tripawd ages?

Having both Max as a tripawd and Edward who is my 3 year old with a congenitally short front leg, I’d say making sure they get an appropriate diet and do not get overweight is very important.  For Edward with his deformed leg, I’ve noticed his foot changing.  It’s about two inches short (and he’s only 16lbs, so a little guy).  When he runs, his leg doesn’t his the ground, but with standing and walking he walks lop-sided and uses it, so because of the way his walks, his little foot has turned into a more useful position.  It’s tight so I couldn’t easily push it back into the normal position.  I expct his back to bother him as he gets older, but it hasn’t happened yet.  He has a prosthesis which I made (I’m a prosthetist)–with it on he walks perfectly even, but he doesn’t like it and I wouldn’t ever leave it on him unattended, so I just let him go wtihout it. Quality of life now vs later. 

  • Anything else you’d like to tell us about being older on three legs is greatly appreciated!

Angel Max ***
2000-2014 ***
I miss my boy so much

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27 January 2013 - 5:05 pm
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Awww yesss! Thank you so much threeleggedmax, it’s wonderful to see you here! Meg, thanks for sharing Max and Edward’s experience, this is very helpful.

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27 January 2013 - 5:11 pm
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What is it like to be a senior Tripawd?     My life is starting to slow down, partly due to old age, partly to the passing of my littermate brother who I played with a lot. I still love the things I always have. I do spend a lot of time sleeping & I don’t always want to go outside with the others.

How do the senior years affect you?

     Basically, the same way any greyhound ages. I have not noticed anything different in Calamity than in any senior greyhound I have had. In fact, I think she gets along better than some I have had!

 

Has mobility gotten harder or stayed the same as you aged?

     My mobility is the same as it was since my amputation.  I get around as well and as much as I need to.

 

What kind of extra accommodations, if any, have been made to ensure you are happy and pain-free?

     We have made up new beds for all of the hounds consisting of the basic fluff filled bag and topped with memory foam that fits each bed. Calamity still just lays on a throw rug mostly though.

 

What would you say to someone who has a young Tripawd? What would you tell them to expect as their Tripawd ages?

     Learn your pet’s gait with 3 legs so you will reconize when there is any issues that need looked at. I have had Calamity to her vet for x-rays about once a year. It seems, in the spring, her gait changes & she gets a slight limp. X-rays show nothing so we just always watch it.

 

Anything else you’d like to tell us about being older on three legs is greatly appreciated!

     Just watch your pet for anything unusual & have it checked. Keep nails trimmed & keep your pet at a healthy weight. Additional weight seems hard for Calamity to carry, so we keep that in check all of the time.

 

Janie & Calamity

 

 

 

 

Janie & Calamity http://www.trix.....gspot.com/

Loving the Red Dog
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27 January 2013 - 5:18 pm
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  • What’s it like to be a senior Tripawd?

While everything happens a little slower for senior Tripawds, Shiva the Red Dog never let it interfere with having fun.  If anything, she had more fun as she learned to boss us around and communicate her wants and needs vocally without having to get up and show us.  We, of course, enabled the heck out of this behavior!  We didn’t notice much slowing down until midway between her 12th & 13th birthdays, which often is typical in Goldens.

  • How do the senior years affect you?

Recovery time after exercise and exertion increased, and more frequent rests were necessary.  Adding a regular swimming regimen helped immeasurably.  In addition to having kind-hearted neighbors willing to share their salt water pool with a shaggy red dog, we also had access to the rehab pool at our local vet school.  We HIGHLY recommend hydrotherapy!!

Another change we noticed was Shiva’s sometimes cranky attitude.  Always bossy and opinionated, Shiva also became more aware of her vulnerability while lying down when children or other pets came near.  She was tolerant of the kids as long as they didn’t try to climb on her, but dogs and cats were notified in no uncertain terms to maintain a respectful distance.

  • Has mobility gotten harder or stayed the same as you aged?

Steps became harder, and certainly walks became “rests with periods of occasional movement,” but swimming and massage kept her limber and strong.  Trips to the beach did wonders for her strength, as well.  We also put runner and area rugs all over our hardwood-filled house, and we made sure they all had thick, non-skid pads under them.  This made mobility – and resting – easy for her.

  • What kind of extra accommodations, if any, have been made to ensure you are happy and pain-free?

In addition to using the Web-Master harness, we also elevated her food and water bowls and incorporated regular acupuncture sessions and physical therapy balance exercises into her routine.  The latter two worked really well with the swimming.  We had her on Fresh Factors supplements from Springtime most of her adult life, but we did increase the dosage as she aged.  We added Dasuquin and fish oil, as well.  

  • What would you say to someone who has a young Tripawd? What would you tell them to expect as their Tripawd ages?

Your dog is still your dog, just older, so you’ll have to be a little more aware of his or her limitations and manage activities accordingly.  They have a marvelous ability to enjoy the moment for what it is, rather than what it might have been.  Make exercise and rehabilitative therapy fun and regular events, so that the effects of aging are gradual and less severe.

Hope this helps…good luck and spirit WOOFS from the Red Dog!!  big-grin

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27 January 2013 - 5:55 pm
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Oh thank you thank you thank you for such pawesome contributions to our knowledgebase!

These are wonderful examples of how a Tripawd ages. We really needed this kind of info here in one organized place to refer people to. Since we personally don’t have any of our own examples of living life with a senior (I was only 10 when I passed and crazy Wyatt Ray is just 4), this is incredibly valuable content that we can share with others who are looking for hope for their older pups. Thank you so much.

 

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27 January 2013 - 6:30 pm
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Tripod Annie Belle is 15 years old and has been a part of our family since 2005. Based on the story told to the veterinarians and animal control officers who rescued and treated her and saved her life in Nov. 2005, Annie has been a tripod since she was a puppy as a result of extreme cruelty– the trash who owned her put a rubber band around her leg to make it rot off so she would be at a disadvantage when they used her as a bait dog in their dog fighting operation. (Yes, I would like to hurt them for the cruelty they inflicted on Annie.) Because Annie has epilepsy, pernicious anemia, an autoimmune disease that prevents her bone marrow from producing blood cells, and a blood clotting disease that makes it very dangerous for her to bleed, we elected not to remove the stump of her back leg. The surgery was simply too dangerous considering her other conditions.

 

Annie is slower than she used to be, of course, and the cold makes her stump hurt so much than it used to do. We wrap the stump in toddler-size socks and vet wrap to keep it warm in winter. She has more trouble pushing to a standing position from a lying down position. Her back and hips are riddled with arthritis– but she is almost 16 years old, and considering the cruelty she survived before we adopted her in Nov. 2005 she would have had these problems even if she had 4 legs, I believe. 

 

Annie takes tramadol twice a day, 50 mg, to control pain from the arthritis and she is doing great on it. We make sure she has a soft, padded bed to rest on that cushions her joints. We massage her joints with Horseman’s Friend horse linament — it doesn’t burn, but it does pleasantly heat the sore joints. It isn’t sticky, and when it dries,  the residue brushes from the fur easily. To protect her stump, we rub it with lotion to keep the scar tissue on the end supple and in good shape. To keep it warm, we buy cotton toddler size tube socks from Dollar Tree and slip both socks over the stump, then secure the socks with vet wrap. 

 

Annie took dog obedience class and participated in all the activities — she played musical chairs and almost won– she was 2nd place! Not bad for the three legged dog completing against younger, healthier, faster 4 legged dogs. :-)  She walked through the agility tunnel. She can run, but the older she gets the less running she does. Annie passed the AKC CGC and the Therapy Dogs International, Inc., therapy dog test and worked as a volunteer at the local hospital and the local assisted living facility for years. She was never limited by the missing limb!

 

Annie and I would tell someone whose dog is facing tripod status, “It is OK! Being a tripawd is not a big deal, really. Life is great. You will adjust and then you will excel! Dogs don’t grieve their missing limbs like humans– we are wiser than that, honestly. We know that the important thing is to make the most of every day and not waste life regreting what cannot be changed.”

 

Finally, I would say to the person who loves a tripawd, “Don’t pity the dog. The dog doesn’t feel self-pity and if you focus on the missing limb to the exclusion of everything else wonderful about the dog, you are dishonoring the dog’s resiliency and courage. Don’t think your dog cannot do everything a 4 legged dog can do– he can, he just might need to do it more slowly or in his own style. Honor that, and do not impede his adventurous spirit or curiosity.” 

 

Bless you, friends, and bless the Tripawds. =)

 

 

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