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Vet Talks: How To Have Happy, Healthy Tripawd Dogs and Cats

Vet Talks 2 min read
et Talks: How To Have Happy, Healthy Tripawd Dogs and Cats

As a practicing holistic and integrative veterinary specialist, I frequently see tripawd dog and cat patients for rehabilitation services, acupuncture, and other forms of medical and therapeutic treatment. Sadly, dogs and cats may lose a limb due to an unfortunate accident, cancer, bone disease, or other forms of cancer.

Treatment options for tripawd dogs and cats depend on when the limb is lost in life, the body size, and which leg is lost.

Treatment options for tripawd dogs and cats depend on when the limb is lost in life, the size of the dog, and which leg is lost. These factors also play into how quickly a pet may learn to adapt. If a pet loses a limb early in life, adaptation is quicker. This is mostly due to not having other preexisting conditions, like arthritis, which would likely lead to more muscle loss for the animal. As the front limbs support 60% of the weight in ambulation, whereas the rear limb supports 40%, it is easier for dogs or cats to adapt to the loss of a hind limb than a front limb. Also, a smaller dog is much more likely to adapt to amputation faster than a larger size dog breed, simply due to sheer weight on the joints and remaining limbs.

To keep your tripawd pet healthy, I recommend the following:

  • Acupuncture, as it relieves discomfort and stress on remaining joints.
  • Other rehabilitation therapies, such as hydrotherapy and exercises to keep the muscles developed in the remaining limbs. This prevents muscle loss in the remaining limbs and subsequent arthritis. However, it is important to monitor the exercise. Do not overdo it, as this will cause stress and discomfort on the remaining joints.
  • Massage to relieve muscle discomfort of the remaining limbs.
  • Excellent nutrition. Keeping tripawds lean is extremely important.
  • Supplementation, which will aid in keeping inflammation down, aiding with discomfort, and helping with overall nutrition.
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin
    • Fish oil supplements like PetOmega-3, which are helpful for inflammation, and overall joint health.
    • Turmeric, which is a super herb used for thousands of years. It helps with discomfort, and aids with circulation, inflammation, and arthritis, and also has antioxidant properties.
    • Milk thistle to keep the body healthy.
    • Boswellia
    • Other antioxidants
    • Herbal multivitamins, like Multi Essentials to help fill in any nutritional gaps that may result from keeping them on a strict lean diet.
  • Prosthetics when necessary or a specially-made wheelchair. There are many veterinarians and specialists who can help you get the right prosthetic or wheelchair for your pet.

In short, your tripawd dog or cat can lead a happy and healthy life. Be sure to keep them lean, fill in any nutritional gaps, and support the stress they may feel on remaining limbs with complementary therapies like massage and herbal supplements.

If your tripawd is having other health complications, please do contact us for an online consultation. We can work together to come up with a plan of action that will be best for your pet.

Dr. Hillary Cook DVM

Dr. Hillary Cook DVM

Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for over 20 years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats, and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

Published: July 21, 2017

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