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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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Rufus Update and questions
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Member Since:
28 February 2022
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21 May 2022 - 2:55 pm
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Quite sometime has passed since Rufus had his front leg amputation…. I just wanted to give an update on his progress and hopefully get some answers to a few questions.

Harnesses:

When we picked up Rufus (he stayed two nights), he was a Happy Chappy  and thankful to see us. They gave us a “cone of shame ” – which was never used (ever), and a harness.  The harness (Help em Up) was a complicated thing to put on and off and we didn’t find it suitable for him.  I ended up making a sling out of a bag (as seen on Tripawds)  which worked amazingly well.  The only thing is that Rufus is a big dog so the sling would travel to his back end… I kept meaning to put a strap attachment around the chest area, but as time went on we were using the sling less and less.

Chemo

The surgeon encouraged us to start chemo the day after his surgery, which we did.  Chemo was scheduled at 3 week intervals.  It was difficult to tell his reaction to the chemo as he was on so much pain medication (Paracetamol), Ridlyn and gabapentin and anti-biotics).  He had no real appetite for a few days, bearing in mind that Rufus is a picky eater at the best of times.

The second round of chemo was delayed a week due to his lowish white cell count.  It was decided that he would now have chemo at 4 week intervals to make sure that he would be able to take the chemo without unnecessary trips to vet.  His cell count was perfect for round two at the 4 weeks.

He went through the 2nd and 3rd chemo session fine and only showed signs of no appetite the following day.  After that he was back to normal.  Yipee!

When the vet amputated his leg, she also took out the lymph node for analysis.  Unfortunately it contained osteosarcoma cells.  So starting chemo straight away was a good call.

Rufus only has a couple of chemo session left.  Is there a standard timeframe when he should go back to have a review?  Or do we just “wait and see”.

Mobility and Wheelchair

Rufus seemed to handle the amputation very well… and was attempting to walk the next day!  As mentioned numerous times on this site, the first two weeks are horrible… you just feel so sorry for your pet and keep wondering f you did the right thing. It is so hard to see your pet limping around with stiches half around his body. Day by day he seemed to get a bit better.  Although walking was a challenge it didn’t seem to put him off trying.  Even now, nearly 10 weeks after surgery, he can only manage 10 – 15 minutes of walking activity before he wants to lie down (he doesn’t attempt to sit any more).  He will gladly hop into the surf to play or play tug-of-war with other dogs, just play time is a shortened event.  I am curious if this is normal after so much time?

 As Rufus is an older large dog (dane/lab x),  I am considering a wheelchair so that he can go on longer walks.  I am struggling to find anyone who makes them in New Zealand… I have checked out eddies wheels who could make one, but the cost and the shipping is quite prohibitive.  Eddies said that they do not recycle front end wheelchairs so getting second hand is not available.

If anyone knows of plans to make one would be greatly appreciated! Rufus would only be in one to go on walks and not use it all day long.

It seems that wheelchairs are more available to back leg amputees and not front leg.  Is there a reason for this?  Are wheelchairs not a suitable for front leg amputees?  Any info on this topic would be appreciated as I am finding it difficult to find.

Stairs and Ramps

I made some ramps to make it easier for Rufus to manage a few steps, but we found that he would rather hop up and down the steps!  Is this normal?  Should we encourage him to used the ramps.  I am just worried it will put too much pressure on his front leg?  

Physio

Rufus has had regular physio session since his surgery and we are planning to continue until after the chemo is finished.  After that we will just take over and continue a program ourselves unless we are having concerns.[Image Can Not Be Found]

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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21 May 2022 - 11:19 pm
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Hey there welcome back! Thank you for updating about Rufus. Overall a pretty good report! I do have feedback but I need to answer in the AM, it's late here and I apologize for the delay but I'll be back tomorrow, so stay tuned!

The Rainbow Bridge


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23 May 2022 - 10:37 am
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Hiya! Some thoughts for you:

Rufus only has a couple of chemo session left.  Is there a standard timeframe when he should go back to have a review?  Or do we just “wait and see”.

Generally the repeat x-rays are done every 6 months. It's optional of course, but if you think you'll sleep better at night knowing, then it's good to do them for your sanity.

Even now, nearly 10 weeks after surgery, he can only manage 10 – 15 minutes of walking activity before he wants to lie down (he doesn’t attempt to sit any more).  He will gladly hop into the surf to play or play tug-of-war with other dogs, just play time is a shortened event.  I am curious if this is normal after so much time?

Absolutely normal, and a sign that he's in pretty good shape if he's able to do that! Losing a limb causes other muscles to work much harder than they are used to doing. Try hopping around on all fours with one limb up in the air, like he is doing, and you'll see how much work it takes.

Rehab / physio therapists tell us that Tripawds should build up to that length of time walking, then take shorter more frequent walks rather than one or two long ones each day. Breaking his activity up into small segments is the best thing for a Tripawd. That's what we mean by moderating activity to keep a Tripawd injury-free. Remember, if he sits down (or lays down) on walk, that means he's gone too far. If that happens make sure he takes it easy for the next day or two so he can recuperate. Try to avoid that situation. You always want to leave him wanting more at the end of the walk, not letting him get to the point of exhaustion.

 As Rufus is an older large dog (dane/lab x),  I am considering a wheelchair so that he can go on longer walks. 

Always check in with your physio before putting any dog in a wheelchair . Have you talked to them about your interest in one? Keep in mind that putting him into wheels without a professional to hep can do more harm than good otherwise, because you really need to know 1) if he even needs one and 2) if the cart is properly sized. Even being off by a few centimeters can throw his whole body off. That's one reason why the Tripawds Foundation will reimburse for your first rehab visit , we want everyone to get their dog assessed after surgery by a professional. A wheelchair may or may not be the answer and a physio can tell you. 

Have you considered a dog stroller ? They make them for big dogs up to 100 pounds and maybe even larger. They're an awesome way to get your dog out into the world on long walks with you that he wouldn't otherwise be able to do. Let him walk a little, ride a little, and it's fun for everyone! I loved our stroller for Wyatt Ray (85 pound Shepherd).

It seems that wheelchairs are more available to back leg amputees and not front leg.  Is there a reason for this?  Are wheelchairs not a suitable for front leg amputees?  Any info on this topic would be appreciated as I am finding it difficult to find.

Both front and rear leggers can use them. But sizing one for a front-legger is tricky, which is why they are usually custom made. Again, another reason to see a physio, to help with that process.

I made some ramps to make it easier for Rufus to manage a few steps, but we found that he would rather hop up and down the steps!  Is this normal?  Should we encourage him to used the ramps.  I am just worried it will put too much pressure on his front leg?  

Oh you are so sweet! Well, most dogs will not do ramps easily. They can be trained to use ramps, but it can be a while before they feel comfortable using them. The reason is a phenomena in animals called "the visual cliff" which deals with their lack of depth perception. Dogs have a really hard time gauging depth, and when they are on a tall surface like a ramp, to some, not knowing exactly how far away they are from the floor is pretty scary. Our Wyatt Ray took a very long time before he would walk up stairs that were open in the back, it scared him seeing the ground behind the steps. And he never got used to jumping into a pool, but he would swim like a fish if he could wade into a pond. Strange but true! 😉 

How many stairs do you have? If it's only two to four for example, he should be OK as long as you have traction on them. And if you are ever concerned he is putting too much pressure on his front limb, ask your physio about a carpal (wrist) brace to see if he can benefit from one. 

Here's a post about training dogs to use ramps and stairs

https://gear.tr.....-training/

I hope this helps! keep us posted and always let us know if you have questions 🙂 Smooches to Rufus the Rock Star!

Member Since:
28 February 2022
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23 May 2022 - 12:34 pm
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Thanks for the detailed reply! 

Point taken re walks..  Rufus has an ankle brace (suggested by physio) which cost $250 to make and $250 to ship!  Rufus has seen a number of different physios (at one facility).  And I have been in touch with another physio not affiliated with the current one.   The physios here don't seem to be well informed or "not experienced" re wheelchairs.  A bit of a worry... when I am trying to get information or even trying to get someone knowledgeable to measure him for one!  Same with strollers for dogs... just don't exist here in New Zealand.

Thanks for the ramp stair video.. very informative!

Interesting re the ramps... I would like to find something suitable to help him up on to the bed... have a couple of ideas... but not sure how practical it would be and the space it would take since he is a big dog.  As Rufus is not "home" yet and is with my son (who lives 5 min from vets where he gets chemo) I will have some time to get in some non-slip  strips to put on steps. We have one set of steps to upstairs which curve around and as such have some wedge shaped steps... they will be tricky for Rufus... They are timber too... so I will have to find some type of adhesive strips to go on the steps that wont take the finish/timber off when we remove them.

Understand about the pool!  Rufus won't go in our pool either, but loves to swim out in the ocean in big waves! Crazy!

Thanks again!

 

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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24 May 2022 - 11:43 am
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Aww you are so welcome! 

So yeah, Rufus has the same inclination to avoid ramps and jumping into pools, just like Wyatt did. I will tell you though that during the last months of Wyatt's life, we managed to get him into a pool for therapy, using hot dogs to lure him in. If you can find something that Rufus just HAS to have, it might be the trick to getting him to use the ramp.

What about a set of pet steps for the bed?

Yes your stairs will be tricky for him. My best advice is to block off the top and bottom of the staircase with baby gates. Then when you get him on the stairs to go up or down, always escort him with a harness handle like the one on the Flagline. That's how we discovered harnesses could be so helpful with Tripawds. Our Jerry had to navigate 18 steps just to go outside our 2nd floor home.

Regarding the physios, are they credentialed with the CCRT or CCRP certifications? Those are the practitioners you want to work with, they are up on the latest techniques and tools. If you want to PM me your location I'm happy to look for one of these therapists for you. Also, our friend Dr. Alex Avery is based in New Zealand, he may be able to help too. I can message him if you'd like.

Member Since:
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24 May 2022 - 7:49 pm
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Thanks,

I will get the harness and block off stairs... good idea.   Re physio.. they are qualified and work where Rufus had his surgery which is a specialist veterinary centre... I think we just don't have the wheels equipment  for front leg amps here in NZ which reflects on the lack of experience.

Will keep you posted.  icon_lol

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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24 May 2022 - 9:54 pm
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You are very welcome.

Good to know about the physio. What a bummer that wheels aren't quite there yet in NZ. I think it just takes more folks like you asking for these kinds of things, to nudge them into getting the knowledge and equipment. Keep up the great advocacy!

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