my dog has osteosarcoma.
April 29, 2005 7:14 PM   Subscribe

My dog has just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her front right leg, and has to have her leg amputated. We live in the second story apartment, with no elevator. I need to figure out how to help her up and down the stairs. She's a Rottweiler/Lab mix (100lbs) so she's too big to carry. Currently, I put her in a Ruffwear harness and hold up her chest a bit when we go down the stairs to ease the pressure on her leg, but I don't think this harness will fit her once her leg has been removed. Does anyone know of a harness that is secure and comfortable for a dog with only one front leg? I need to be able to grab it from her back (ideally between her shoulder blades) and that the force is evenly distributed across her chest. All the harnesses I can think of fit "under the armpits", so to speak. Other suggestions are welcomed, as well. Yes, moving to another apartment is medium term option, but I need to figure out a short term solution. (Our front door is on the first floor, which opens to an internal stairway. I've thought about building a ramp down to the front door, but there are still 10 stairs from the door to the street.) Thanks for your help.
posted by luneray to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
Try here:

Handicapped Pet Site

Looks like they've got some products - slings, harnesses, etc., that might help.

Specifically, there is this page for amputees:

Walkabout Harnesses

Good luck!!
posted by cyniczny at 8:26 PM on April 29, 2005

In addition to the harnesses linked above, I'll point out the obvious about keeping her lean and fit. Dogs adapt to being tripods very well, but the bigger ones like yours can sometimes be a bit slower to adjust simply because of their size. I might also start doing some basic range of motion and gentle stretching exercises with her remaining front leg on a regular basis, since she will naturally move it out of normal alignment and more toward the centre of her body to compensate for the missing leg, and you will want to maintain that leg in the best condition possible. Good luck with her, and good for you for doing everything you can for her, this is a terrible disease and all too common.
posted by biscotti at 9:53 PM on April 29, 2005

Hey luneray, if you write a succinct question on the front page and then put details as [more inside], you will likely have more relevant people coming in to finish reading and offer assistance. Many of us will just whizz on by when there's too much writing. That's just how we are. Also, it takes up too much of the finite space on the front page.
*waddles off carrying soapbox*
posted by peacay at 5:37 AM on April 30, 2005

There's a wolf-black lab mix in one of the buildings in the apartment buildings which I manage which very recently had exactly the same procedure for exactly the same reason. He also lives on the second floor. He's very tall and very lean and he's going up and down those stairs all on his own. It's been recent enough an event that the fur that was shaved for the operation is still shorter than the rest of the coat. A second floor landing should be within walking distance for your dog sooner than you think. Don't treat him like an invalid is my suggestion. The dog here is a bit shaky and not yet a romper again but he's getting along and getting better every day. Dogs adapt.
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on April 30, 2005

When one of my German Shepherds had her left front leg removed (a serious deformity), I ended up making my own harnesses for her. One for immediately after the procedure and a second for when everything was healed. I assembled them out of heavy denim and straps of nylon for the handle. The vet and I had a conversation about this to make sure that the design would support her in a proper and non-painful manner. They worked great and she doesn't even need them anymore.

BTW, your care and concern here is really admirable. I hope all goes well for her (and you too!).
posted by peewee at 11:25 AM on April 30, 2005

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