Tripawds benefit from dog wheelchairs too!

We have often questioned the myth that dogs who lose a leg due to an amputation can get along just fine.  Dogs carry up to 70% of their body weight on their front legs,  and 30% of their body weight on their rear legs.  A three-legged dog is forced to hop, which puts tremendous impact on all the joints, including the spine which has to stretch and contract with each hop.  We owned a three-legged cat for several years, and over time, his spine curled to one side, and when he overdid it, he was immobilized for days.

We often celebrate tripawds for their ability to accept their disability and seemingly  rise above it.  Surely it is “better to hop on 3, than limp on 4″ – as long as that hopping is painfree and not causing injury.  Young dogs, especially seem to get around just fine on three legs.  But even young dogs can injure their remaining legs and spines by over-compensating for their missing limbs.  We built a rear wheel cart for Tres, a one year old Great Dane who lost a rear leg due to a birth accident because we could see his remaining rear leg pronating out at the hip, and the knee was shaking.  The owner hopes that taking Tres on daily walks in his wheels,  she’ll maintain good muscle mass to support her hip and knee so that when she’s at home, she’ll move in comfort and ease out of her cart.

Tres, a Great Dane tripawd, in her wheelchair

Overcompensating for missing limbs does increase wear and tear on the remaining joints, and this was obvious when we first watched this great video of Katie, a 13 year old border collie living in Chicago, who lost a front leg.  Despite her obvious joy in being supported in a front wheel cart, we could see the arthritis in her hips at the end of her walk.   However, her owner, was grateful for the extra years of quality life that her front wheel cart gave her.   Kate was quite the celebrity in Lincoln Park strolling in her front wheel cart.

Even tripawds with compromised strength in their remaining limbs can be helped by a set of wheels.   Mia, who lost her forelimb and injured her pelvis in a car accident in her youth, came to us at the age of  8.  Her special variable axle front wheel cart with tip wheels and a soft yoke made movement and exercise possible again for her.

Lily, a giant mastiff who lost a rear leg due to an infected knee following ACL surgery, felt so much after ridding herself of a painful nonfunctional rear leg.  Here she is at her fitting, looking relaxed and happy to have a little help to keep herself going.


4 Responses to Tripawds benefit from dog wheelchairs too!

  1. Anne Manes January 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Sasha lost her right rear leg to cancer when she was 2. She managed just fine on 3 legs for 10 years, but progressive arthritis in her remaining knee has been reducing her mobility. She’s now at the point that she can’t walk on uneven ground without assistance. So we got her a set a wheels, and she’s ecstatic at her new-found freedom.

  2. Luke Foley February 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    WE 13 year old golden who lost her front right leg to cancer would the fron t wheeled cart help her? and what is the price range


  3. leslie February 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    A front wheel cart would definitely help her if she’s having difficulty getting around on her own. Prices for front wheel carts are $75.00 more than for equivalent rear wheel cart – so assuming your dog is between 60-90 lbs. the cart would be $520.00

  4. kacey March 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Afront wheel cart will keep her from hopping and causing injury to her remaining leg especially because shes probably quite a good size dog. getting a cart has been the best investment Ive EVER made for my dog.

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