My husband and I adopted our first three legged pup about a year ago. Sweet Lily lost her leg during the birthing process, which unfortunately is a common occurrence. As she grew older, we became more and more aware of the unique problems some of these pups face. Here is quick list of helpful tips for those who just adopted a three legged, or whose pup recently had an amputation.
When three-legged pups lay down, they tend to put more pressure and stress on their solo leg. They don’t have the other leg to help them ease on down, so they may begin to develop rough skin, loss of hair, scrapes, and joint swelling. Lily will sometimes even use her head to adjust her body, which results in a more irritated chin. There are great moisturizing options that help keep their skin supple, restore hair loss and aid their joint pain. We currently use ResQ organics skin care for pets. It is a gentle, organic, non-toxic formula that has a mild, natural analgesic in it. I usually apply this to her chin and elbows in the evening. She doesn’t seem to mind and wakes up with less irritated skin. I would suggest using a formula created for dogs specifically, as some ingredients in human products can be toxic for animals.
Different dog breeds tend to have very different stamina levels. Depending on your dog’s baseline stamina level, make sure you are building up to longer walks and play-time. My husband and I often had to carry Lily back from walks and play dates because it was too much for her. Carrying a sixty pound chunker is no easy feat, so keep track of how far your pup can walk comfortably and how often they are taking breaks. It is always a good idea to bring some water for them when you stop for a breather. Same goes for play time, as they may run themselves ragged because of how much fun they are having. Keep a close eye on how they act the next day depending on how long and rough they played for. Do they seem sore? Notice anything different with how they are walking? Play time is important, but making sure they don’t injure themselves needs to be the first priority. They are in a much more challenging position if they can’t walk at all because they played too rough or for too long, than a four legged pup who may limp to release pressure off of the sore or injured leg. So, keep track of their tolerance and create a mentally stimulating break time so they can still be active.
Even though a fluffy dog bed may sound more appealing to you, three legged pups typically do better on firmer, more supportive beds. It is easier for them to adjust themselves on and it provides better joint support.
You may want to speak with your vet about prematurely starting your pup on joint supplements, as a preventative measure. Although there are mixed reviews about glucosamine chondroitin, your vet will be able to recommend and speak with you further about which supplements they have seen work for similar dogs. As your three legged pup ages, he or she may be more susceptible to joint discomfort, cartilage wear down and arthritis, so discussing preventative measures with your vet is definitely worth doing.
Slight weight gain that may not impact your four legged dog, may wreak havoc on your three legged friend. Imagine hopping around on one leg and compare that to walking around on two. Now add a weight gain of 10 pounds. It may not feel as significant when you are utilizing both of your legs, but when you only have access to one, it is going to create more work, and more bodily stress and discomfort. Making sure your three-legged pup consistently stays at the appropriate weight, according to your vet, is critical for their health and wellbeing. Often times, vet offices will have a large dog scale in their waiting room. If possible, try to have your dog weighed once a month, so you can keep track of it.
It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed at first. With a little time and close monitoring, this will become second nature to you!
Do you own or are considering owning a three-legged fur baby? Leave a comment! Share with us your tips for taking better care of your special needs pup, or share your feelings on what it's like to own (or want to own) a three-legged love-bug.