Three legged puppy needs to fun fast!
October 20, 2006 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Help my three legged German Shepard.

My sweet five month old puppy was born missing one leg. He has the whole sholder mechanism, a severly truncated femur and a vestigial tibia.

He uses his stump alot to help climb up on things. The issue is that there is no muscle there and no padding. The tibia has a sharp point, he (obviously) falls a lot and thus is exposed to painful soft tissue damage almost constantly. His stump has filled with fluid twice. We get is asperated, but this will just eventually lead to infection.

The doctor presented us with two options. 1. Remove everything including the scapula. This would ensure that any "structure" causing the fluid buildup would be removed. This also opens up the chest area to a higher susciptibility of injury when running. This removal would also make it almost impossible to do a prosthesis when he is full grown. 2. Do reconstructive surgery to pad the area with muscle. They give us 50/50 that this would work.

It is a front leg that is missing and I know people tell me all the time that tripods do fine, but the ones that do fine are usually missing a back leg. His front arm gets extremely tired and he can't run and play or go up steps well like he wants. So we really want the prosthesis at some point.

Here is my idea: I want to create a leather sholder harness that goes over his body then encases his stump in sort of bean bagy/padded, something that will help protect those soft tissues. However, I have no idea about how to go about this. I will thinking I could create a vinyl prototype then take it to a bondage store, he would make a great mascott.

So help me think of ways to help my puppy or design this harness. Bonus points for something like doggy slipper socks with plenty of tread for his remaining front foot.
posted by stormygrey to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Good for you for trying to solve this.

I can't help with designing a harness, but have you considered one of the many varieties of dog boots that are available? I'm wondering if something like this, especially with padding added inside (for his stump), would solve both your problems (the traction for his one foot, and padding for his stump). Here are some dog boots.
posted by biscotti at 7:44 AM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Just be careful that you don't leave any covering on either leg for too long, skin needs air and it needs to stay dry - leaving any covering on for too long at one time can cause serious skin problems (including gangrene).
posted by biscotti at 7:46 AM on October 20, 2006

It might be worth asking for some help with the harness design at the discussion forum here.
posted by Arqa at 8:02 AM on October 20, 2006

It is a front leg that is missing and I know people tell me all the time that tripods do fine, but the ones that do fine are usually missing a back leg.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have a mutt they adopted from the humane society that is missing its front right leg. I promise you, dogs can do just fine without. That dog is a maniac and can out run all of their dogs as well as both of the dogs I have and is still running around even when everyone else has pooped out. The biggest problem seems to be the dog is young and is still learning how to get around with one bum leg.

The pad just sounds like a temporary fix. Both of the options presented by the vet sound expensive and time consuming, but I personally would probably be moving forward with one of those options. I would probably start with the second option and then do the first if it failed, but that would really depend on how much I felt the dog really needed the bum leg.

Also, good on you for taking care of this pup. Certainly brought a smile to me today.
posted by chrisroberts at 8:02 AM on October 20, 2006

I think we need to know how cute the dog is before anyone can really answer this question. Where are the pictures?

Is there an option 1.5? Can you remove the most protruding part of the leg bones and leave enough bone and scapula for a prosthetic (and chest wall protection), that will allow you to provide some padding in the meantime (and times when a prosthetic leg isn't on, in the future)?

Do check out some of the communities for handicapped pets, because there's some serious ingenuity and engineering going on out there.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:18 AM on October 20, 2006

Response by poster: These are around 3 monthes old, he is much bigger now and he can take his sister! (Sorry I don't know how to do the links
posted by stormygrey at 8:33 AM on October 20, 2006

Aw, Li'l brudder, heart of a champion!

I've definitely seen three legged dogs (missing one in front entirely) getting around very well. Something to consider if you go with option 1.
posted by malphigian at 8:47 AM on October 20, 2006

You might try sending some messages to other three-legged German Shepherd owners on Dogster. Of course, any three-legged dog owner would have suggestions, but you might as well see more Shepherds!
posted by nekton at 8:58 AM on October 20, 2006

I have no experience with this, just wanted to go "awwww, cute", with everyone else :)

My uninformed idea would be to first try to fabricate some sort of protective thingy to reduce the chance of injury while still supporting the growth of calluses. This thingy might even have a small extension as an initial prosthetic extension.

On the operations, I would tend not to do either until it becomes medically necessary - eg the leg isn't standing up to the use even with the protection.

Good luck!
posted by Artful Codger at 10:00 AM on October 20, 2006

NO to option 1!

Option 2 sounds good to me; it might also take care of the fluid buldup if that's due to tissue which is meant to produce synovial fluid, the lubricant insde joint capsules, producing that fluid and sending it out into the stump generally.

I have a feeling you and your dog might have a lot of fun making a workable prosthetic for him when he's a little older, and the more he can keep of what he's got now, the better that will go, I suspect.
posted by jamjam at 12:04 PM on October 20, 2006

I know it's been awhile, so what have you decided? I have a 9 month old pup with a partial front leg.

Been trying to research the pros/cons of a prosthetic leg...found your posting on a google search.

Wonder what you've done and if you've found success.

posted by hoobat at 8:08 AM on April 6, 2007

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