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Rehabilitation therapists have so much life-changing advice to offer cats and dogs on three legs. And when the rehab vet also happens to be a veterinarian, well that wisdom is priceless! Today we are honored to welcome Dr. Dicki Kennedy, founder of Animal Rehab and Conditioning Center in Greenville, South Carolina, to the Tripawds community.
Thanks to Tripawds members Domino and Cassie, we were introduced to Dr. Kennedy, who also happens to have a Tripawd kitty! Dr. Kennedy spent time with this dynamic duo to share her best physical conditioning tips for three-legged dogs and cats.
In the next couple of months we’ll share her fun rehab session with Domino, but for now, get to know Dr. Kennedy, who has written this informative blog post featuring tips and tricks for nutrition, gear and living life on three legs:
Domino Gets Rehab
“Hello – I am Dr. Dicki Kennedy and I am a rehabilitation veterinarian. I was in general practice when I found that I was not satisfied with the quality of pain management that we were doing as a profession, so I began this long journey of finding different methods to help manage pain in our pets.
I became certified in canine rehabilitation, canine acupuncture, veterinary pain management, canine massage and finally animal chiropractic – one thing led to another and they are all great tools for helping to manage our pet’s pain.
I opened ARCC — Animal Rehab and Conditioning Center last year as part of a dream to help pets live longer, healthier and better lives. At ARCC I have the privilege of helping canine athletes improve their performance, helping aging pets to live a more comfortable and productive life, and to help pets with injuries learn to reuse their body in the way it was meant.
Lifestyle Tips for Tripawd Dogs and Cats
I have some tips for Tripawds:
If your pet is about to receive an amputation, speak to your veterinarian about possible prosthetics after the surgery.
Keep your pet lean.
Make your pet as strong as possible on their remaining limbs and don’t forget their core which includes the abdominal and back muscles.
Working out core muscles.
I recommend glucosamines for everyone no matter how many limbs they are using.
Comfortable bedding – orthopedic bedding is recommended for everyone.
The Big Barker
Ramps are a great addition to most homes – too many pets are jumping out of high SUVS and placing a tremendous amount of weight on their forelimbs let alone the exertion on the rear limbs to jump up into the car.
The OttoStep Dog Loader
Elevated food and water bowls are recommended to keep your pet from placing too much weight on their front legs.
I love flexion and extension exercises followed by massage.
Massage is great Tripawd Therapy
Lots of love, attention and stimulation.
I was told to keep this at about 300 words and we are way over – I still have a lot to say so maybe I will get to post another blog soon.”
Stay tuned for lots more informative tips from Dr. Kennedy about living healthy and strong on three legs!
Until then, check out her blog and download her free e-book, “What Do I Do Now, Doc?”
Tagged: ARCC, recovery, rehab therapy, rehabilitation therapy
Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!
Look no further for the best Tripawds pre and post amputation recovery gear, Dieter’s List has you covered!
A while back, Dieter’s pack shared their favorite “Must Have” items for amputation surgery recovery, which we’d like to pass along to you today:
- The Big Barker (7″ of American-made support for your big 4-legged friend – yeah!)
- The Webmaster Harness – I’ve been using Ruffwear stuff for years and this product is outstanding, as are all their other things.
- A soft towel to act as a sling for getting in and out of the car until he can wear the Webmaster
- Random “dog towels” – for whatever spills, accidents, oozing, and/or drooling may be going on
- Grip Trex booties – these I bought for Otto many years ago and he HATED them. I’ve been easing them onto Dieter’s feet for familiarity in case they’d be helpful at the vet’s office down the line
- Inflatable cone – somehow this just seems a teeny bit more dignified than the “cone of shame”
- I’m going to buy Bella’s hot/cold pack for pain management
- The BF showed up on Friday night with 500 sq ft of commercial-grade carpeting in his truck. The whole house, which has stained concrete floors, is now carpeted. I doubt you have as amazing a BF as I do, but now you know the secret.
- A baby gate with a swinging door to cordon off his recovery area (aka the bedroom)
- New toys to destroy as he recovers (Goodwill and Costco are cheap sources of soft toys that destruct gratifyingly easily).
- Elevated Food Bowls – really tall ones since he’s such a tall boy. His current 12″ ones will not be good for his posture on three legs. I can’t remember the brand name, but these are 16″ tall and I ordered them from amazon.com
- Soups, canned fruits, cereal, yogurt, Clif bars and other easy-to-prepare and reasonably healthy foods (oh, ok, except for the 15-pack of mac and cheese) so that I would not have to think about what I was going to eat while I was paying attention to his recovery
- The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. I haven’t started reading it yet, but I’ll review it when I do.
- A good book to read for when I can’t concentrate on work or just want to hang out with him while he’s less mobile.
Do you have other “Must Have” gear for Tripawds that should be on this list? Share your tips with us in the Comments field below!
We often get asked, “Can my dog wear a harness after amputation surgery?”
New Tripawd Wyatt wears the Webmaster
The answer to that is, it depends on which harness you buy, and whether your dog is losing a front or rear leg.
The Get-a-Grip and Pet Support Suit Harnesses
If you’re considering the AST Get-a-Grip Harness or Custom Pet Support Suit, these rugged harnesses are made especially for post-surgery dogs. The unique wrap-around design shouldn’t interfere with amputation stitches in the front or rear, but it’s always good to check with your vet first.
This Wyatt wears a Get-a-Grip Harness
The Webmaster and Convert Harnesses
Although we recommend not using the Ruffwear Webmaster Harness or EzyDog Convert Harness until the surgery has completely healed and stitches or staples are removed, some dogs like Wyatt (pictured in the first photo) can wear them over a body stocking.
Tripawd Eva loves her Webmaster harness.
We have heard of no specific cases where any harness has hampered healing, but we believe direct pressure from the straps might irritate the wound. This may not be the case with rear-leg amputees, whose stitches are usually beyond the harness straps. However please consult your veterinarian with any concerns.
Wyatt runs in the EzyDog Tripawd Convert Harness.
If you find the harness irritates your dog’s incision or don’t want to risk it, try using a soft towel slung under the belly if additional post-op mobility support is required. A reusable canvas shopping bag slit down the sides also makes a handy temporary sling.
One of the best ways you can help your three-legged hero get strong after losing a leg is through canine rehabilitation therapy. A rehab program provides endless life-changing benefits for all dogs but especially three-legged ones.
Tripawd Lucy gets a rehab workout
A qualified canine rehabilitation practitioner can help your Tripawd in many ways, including:
- Locating existing skeletal and muscular weaknesses to reduce the risk of additional damage.
- Diagnosing and fixing a physical problem instead of relying solely on painkillers to hide symptoms.
- Correcting your Tripawd’s gait in order to reduce the physical stress of the “Tripawd Hop.”
Not all doggie rehab centers and practitioners are equal, however. Two of the most important factors a clinic needs in order to provide a safe environment are:
- Rehabilitation staff with the CCRT or CCRP credentials.
- A partnering veterinarian who is also certified in canine rehabilitation.
The most highly trained individuals will have the initials “CCRT” (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist) or “CCRP” (Certified
Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner) after their name, which means they graduated from one of only two accredited courses in the world recognized for outstanding training and education:
When done by qualified practitioners, canine rehab is s0 much fun for you and your dog. If you’re unable to work directly with a clinic, fear not, there’s plenty you can do at home to aid your Tripawd in building strong core muscles and stamina. Here are two beginner level pieces of equipment that will help you get started:
FitPAWS® Balance Pad
FitPAWS Balance Pad for Four and Three-Legged Dogs
The FitPAWS Balance Pad is the perfect beginning balance training tool and provides low balance challenges for dogs recovering from amputation surgery or other injuries. The closed-cell foam construction makes the FitPAWS Balance Pad impervious to water, great for when you need to hose it off between uses or use during under-water therapy. Read our Balance Pad review here.
Getting strong with the K9 FITBone
Instability training develops strength, endurance, proprioception, balance and flexibility with the K9FITbone™. Provides a low–impact, platform to add full–body conditioning and toning for small and large Tripawds. Features sensory bumps for neural stimulation. Balance challenge can be adjusted by adding more or less air to the platform.Read our K9FITbone™ review here.
Loving Life on Three Legs: The Tripawds canine fitness and conditioning handbook
The Tripawds Gear Blog: Best of Gear and Fitness Tips for Three-Legged Dogs
Veterinary Rehab Therapy Benefits for Three Legged Dogs
Tagged: exercise, fitpaws, recovery
Did you know you can get a custom dog harness made exactly to your dog’s unique shape? The Custom Pet Support Suit by Animal Suspension Technologies is our all-time favorite made-to-order mobility harness for dogs.
Here’s why we love it:
We became fans of the Pet Support Suit when we tried it on Tripawds Founder Jerry (see video below). The suit is exactly as described:
- Great for hard-to-fit breeds with long or short torsos, or a very thin belly compared to the chest
- Works for both front and rear leg amputees
- Non-slip fabric won’t rotate
- Complete wrap-around design for total support
- Design allows for male anatomy
- Several points of adjustment
- Adjustable handles for taller people
- Easy to put on and remove
- USA-made to order in about 3-5 business days
Your Custom Pet Support Suit will be tailored with your dog in mind and built to size. Here’s how to get the exact fit for your dog:
First click the image below to view general measurement instructions. The image will open at a larger size in a new window.
Next, confirm your measurements by doing the following:
- Wrap a towel or pillow case around your dog
- Fold the fabric to fit from just behind the front legs to just in front of the rear leg (this is how the suit will fit). Be sure to accommodate for male/female anatomy and space to urinate.
- Measure the folded towel to get the body length from front leg to rear leg.
- Write down the measurements.
Read our original review to learn how the Custom Pet Support Suit can help your three-legged dog. Contact us with questions or
Summer is here and temperatures are soaring. Here’s how to keep your dog cool: The Swamp Cooler dog jacket by Ruffwear.
It sounds crazy, but this dog cooling jacket really works! Here’s how:
The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler’s light color is designed to reflect heat from the sun, and uses natural evaporative cooling to keep your Tripawd cool. Here’s a Ruffwear blog post that explains more about this evaporative cooling technology.
Swamp Cooler jacket keeps Wyatt chill. Note, he’s wearing the previous style. The new style is available when ordering from our Shop.
Just soak the Swamp Cooler in cold water, wring it out, and fasten around your dog. Evaporative cooling then exchanges the dog’s heat as water evaporates from the coat’s reservoir.
Evaporative cooling method
Combined with the evaporative cooling effect, the Swamp Cooler keeps dogs comfortable when temperatures rise.
Yes, you read that right: put a jacket on your dog to keep him cool during summer. But not just any jacket of course, you want the Swamp Cooler by Ruffwear!
Please remember that the Swamp Cooler is not to be used as a safety measure when leaving your dog unattended in a warm environment. Never, ever leave your dog alone in a car or outdoors without supervision in summer heat.
Some folks call it a wobble board, others refer to it as a “buja board” for dogs. Whatever you call it, this wobbly surface is a great tool to build core strength in dogs, especially the three-legged variety!
Tripawd Wyatt balances on the Buja Board
Why Build Strong Core Muscles?
Teach your dog to learn how to balance on a wobble board and you’ll help build one of the most critical aspects of a three-legged dog’s life: strong core muscles. Why is it beneficial to build strong abdominals?
- Helps to prevent spinal issues
- Can target specific limbs for weight-bearing therapy and muscle strengthening rehab.
- Boost confidence on changing surfaces
- Develops better stamina
- Help build better balance
Build or Buy, Wobble Boards are Fun!
You can build a Buja board if you’re crafty, or order a FitPAWS Wobble Board to get started. Watch how Wyatt learned to work on uneven surfaces and see what a fun time you can have with your Tripawd!
Keep in mind wobble board games are an advanced activity; if your Tripawd is new to rehab therapy, you’ll want to start by familiarizing her with uneven surfaces. Have your Tripawd walk on couch cushions placed on the floor, then try a FitPAWS Balance Pad, move up to the Balance Disc, Paw Pods and eventually a Wobble Board.
Wobble Boards Build Strong Core Muscles in Dogs
Loving Life on Three Legs: Canine Fitness and Conditioning for Happy, Healthy Tripawds
Post Op Canine Rehab with the Wobble Board
FitPaws Wobble Board Builds Tripawd Confidence
Online Dog Coach: The Buja Board
Alfies Blog: Wiggling Wobbleboard Fun: Training Core Muscles and Balance
Now is the time to buy a Ruffwear Webmaster harness, K9 Float Coat life jacket and other helpful Ruffwear gear for Tripawds! On June 1 all Ruffwear items will see a slight price increase resulting from Ruffwear’s rise in their cost of materials.
Get a rebate on these Ruffwear items until midnight May 31st!
Rock the Tripawds Nation in a Webmaster
The Webmaster Harness is our all-time best-selling mobility aid for three-legged dogs of all breeds.
Tripawd Tanner Models his Webmaster Harness
There’s no other harness that serves as many purposes or is as comfortable to wear for just a short hike or all day while lounging around the house. It helps you help your dog:
Buy a Webmaster by midnight on May 31 at the normal price of $52.95 (with free ground shipping) and we’ll refund you $5 after your purchase!
Tripawds Swim Safer, Longer with K9 Float Coat
Yes, three-legged dogs can swim, but they swim better, safer and longer with a K9 Float Coat by Ruffwear. Check out all the reasons why a Tripawd swims better in this superior life jacket, including:
- More buoyancy
- Superior safety protection
- Sturdy handle for assisting your dog
- Prevents rolling over in water
Spirit Libby Swims Better in the K9 Float Coat
Get your K9 Float Coat by midnight on May 31 for just $74.95 (with free ground shipping) and we’ll refund you $8 after your purchase!
Dogs Cool off with the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler
Fur is flying in homes everywhere as the weather warms up and summer approaches. Keep your Tripawd (and all dogs) cooler with the Swamp Cooler from Ruffwear. The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler uses evaporative cooling fabric to keep dogs from overheating in the sun. Just dunk it in cool water and place on your dog, she’ll thank you for it!
Wyatt cools off in the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler
The Swamp Cooler is the only jacket your dog will ever wear in the hot summer weather! It’s a must-have this summer!
Get your Swamp Cooler by midnight on May 31 for just $49.95 (with free ground shipping) and we’ll refund you $5 after your purchase!
Remember, all Ruffwear pricing is going up on June 1st so get yours now. We apologize for the increase, it was out of our control.
How to Get Your Rebate
- Place your order for these items in our Tripawds Gear Shop.
- After we receive and process your order, we will credit the card or Paypal account you used to purchase.
*NOTE: The rebate amount will be deducted from any refund for returned products purchased using this promotion. Please measure carefully. If either product purchased under this special offer is returned (not exchanged), a restocking fee will be assessed. Thanks for your understanding.
Tagged: Ruff Wear, savings
Can your three-legged dog swim? If you don’t know, give it a try with the best, safest dog life jacket available, the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat.
Rear-leg Tripawd Wyatt swims safely with Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat
Most canine amputees can swim without a floatation device. But Tripawd dogs swim longer, safer and more confidently when wearing a life jacket. Watch Tripawds Founder Spirit Jerry G. Dawg, swimming with and without a life jacket:
Accept no imitations! The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is the only
dog floatation device with full under-belly padded cells
that keep even the largest Tripawd upright while swimming.
Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat
Why the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is the best:
- Prevents dogs from swallowing too much water
- Under-belly padding keeps Tripawds upright
- Provides a buoyant lift when your Tripawd gets tired
- Ergonomic cut provides flexibility
- Sturdy handle helps you offer assistance as needed
The K9 Float coat allows for maximum mobility in and out of the water.
Summer is almost here! Now is the time to see how this life jacket helps your Tripawd in the water. On June 1st, Ruffwear is implementing a slight price increase on all items, so act now!
Tripawd Wyatt loves swimming with a life vest
More Life Jacket Info
K9 Float Coat Helps All Dogs Become Better Swimmers
New Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat Inspires Tripawd Confidence
Why Float Coat Dog Life Jackets Are Pawesome
Tagged: life jacket, Ruff Wear
Farabloc is a holistic, drug-free approach for alleviating phantom limb pain relief in animals and people alike. It works by shielding the body from man-made and environmental electromagnetic fields (EMF) that contribute to phantom pain attacks and general pain in the body such as migraines.
Read how Farabloc works and read the following real-life testimonials that explain how it helped these happy customers’ dogs. One pawrent even writes that they believe it helped slow tumor growth in their dog’s leg.
You may decide that it’s right for you and your Tripawd.
Less Pain, Sleeping Better
Our English Bulldog also sleeps on a sheet made from Farabloc fabric. When he is on our bed he will position himself so he is on the sheet and I am off. We have now 2 Farabloc sheets so we all have it. Kobe sleeps more sound and is calmer. At times I have doubled his sheet if his ears are bad. When I had my brother wrap a sheet around him the dog went up and tried to take it from him. If the sheet is on top he ruffles it up and puts his head on it like a pillow. Cuts down on the vet bills!
I am not sure how it is helping him but he appears to be drawn to it.
Teri, Richmond, BC
Human Research and Technology Translates to Help for Your Dog
My 11 year old flat coat retriever, Dallas, has arthritis in her back left leg from an injury she had when she was pup.
As she ages, her limp gets more prominent and restricts her walking /running.
She still loves the beach and water and would not stop the pouncing and retrieving sticks in the water. It would take her two days to be able to walk a block after a day at the beach.
We started using Farabloc fabric that she would lie on at night which seemed to help- when she stayed on her blanket.
There was some improvement within a week. Then we used a piece of Farabloc fabric as a wrap around her stiff joint for the night. Within 4 days she was walking with barely a limp.
Now when we go to the beach she will run and play in the water and still be able to jump back into the car. We wrap her leg at night with the fabric and she is up and moving the next day!
The Farabloc fabric works fantastic for Dallas and her arthritis.
Kathy Wilson, BC
Abby’s Farabloc Success
“Abby is our Female German Shepherd dog who is now approximately 10 ½ years old. In May of 2010 we noticed a small lump on her left front leg at the ankle joint. We took her to our vet and the lump was biopsied with a needle aspiration and it tested positive for cancer. We of course were devastated and she was taken to a veterinary specialty hospital and surgery was done to try and remove the tumor.
The tumor could not be removed completely and it was biopsied completely and the report came back with the diagnosis Canine Fibrosarcoma. It was classified as a low grade tumor. The Veterinary surgeon who had done the operation recommended amputation of the leg to prevent the cancer from spreading. He told us that low grade fibrosarcoma tumors have a lower chance of spreading, but they are invasive tumors that will damage tissue as they grow in the location of the tumor and will eventually require amputation. He told us that in his experience tumors of this type usually grow to the size requiring amputation due to tissue damage caused by the tumor in 4 to 6 months. He had on the rare occasion seen them take as long as a year to grow to the size requiring amputation and sometimes they are more aggressive and the time can be as short as 6 to 8 weeks. He believed that Abby’s tumor was aggressive because it had grown in the few days since he first saw her and the day of the surgery. His recommendation was to do the amputation as quickly as possible to prevent possible spread of the cancer. Why run the risk of it spreading since it will require amputation soon anyway, and dogs do really well on three legs.
After doing our own research and consulting with other specialists we decided the risk of the cancer spreading was minimal in low grade fibrosarcoma tumors on the leg. It was our expectation that we would have to amputate at some time in the near future. We did research on amputation and saw that phantom pain syndrome was a significant issue in canine amputation. Farabloc was a product that had been used in human phantom pain and we contacted the company with questions regarding Farabloc for its possible use for chronic pain for dogs. Don Nixdorf, a representative of Farabloc, visited our home and discussed the information humans were finding. We asked him to provide a wrap designed for Abby that was a simple tensor style application that attached with Velcro. When we first put the Farabloc wrap on Abby she immediately had a very strong reaction to it. She began to run around, wanting to play, jump and she seemed very excited in a positive way. This was extremely unusual behavior and it was very surprising to us. We began using the wrap on a regular basis. She wore it all of the time, day and night.
It only came off for her walks and play time outside. She did not seem bothered or even to notice the wrap at all and it has not been an issue for her that she has the wrap on her leg. We chose to apply the wrap initially for Abby’s post surgery recovery but as time went by we chose to leave it on to observe since it was just a fabric and Abby behaved as nothing was bothering her.
Abby’s tumor progressed very slowly over the next eighteen months and its increase in size was only slightly noticeable. We of course were very happy that Abby’s tumor growth had progressed so slowly, in fact slower than the most optimistic prognosis we had been given. She continued to run and play on all four legs and seemed to have no problems at all with her leg.
In October, 2011 a Veterinary Oncologist who specialized in canine cancer started a practice in our community. We took Abby to see her in the hope that she could help. The Veterinary Oncologist was surprised that Abby’s tumor had grown so slowly and she said Abby was very lucky. She said cancer can be unpredictable and sometimes it does progress more slowly than expected. She put Abby on a chemotherapy treatment plan called Metrononmic Therapy. This is a low dose Cyclophosphamide and Metacam protocol that is taken orally by the dog. She told us that in her opinion Abby’s tumor would mostly likely progress over the next 4 to 6 months to the point where lameness, pain or tumor degradation causing an untreatable open wound would require amputation. Hopefully the metronomic therapy would buy her a little time, but it would not be a “cure”.
Abby has continued on the Metronomic Therapy protocol and daily wearing of the Farabloc wrap for 2 ½ years, and it will be 4 years since the original diagnosis next month.. She has been using the Farabloc wrap almost the entire 4 year time period.
She has not been cured of cancer, but the progress of the tumor size is very slow. She is still running and playing on all four legs and seems to have no issues with the small tumor lump on her leg at the ankle joint. The oncologist says “we are in unknown territory” both on the length of time the tumor has slowly progressed and the length of time she has been on the Chemotherapy medication.
It is difficult to say what, if anything, has contributed to the slow progress of her fibrosarcoma cancer. It may be the chemotherapy, the Farabloc, or a combination of the two. It may be prayers or that she is just lucky and had a tumor that seems to grow very slowly compared to other tumors of the same type. Our motto has been, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” and we are continuing with the Farabloc Wrap and the Metronomic Therapy. It has been almost 4 years now and we just hope for as much quality time for Abby as possible.”
Gary Bowden, Vancouver BC Canada
These are actual testimonials submitted by Tripawd pawrents who have tried Farabloc. If you have specific questions, the Farabloc company is ready to answer them. Please feel free to contact Dr. Don Nixdorf, DC directly. Dr. Nixdorf is in private practice, on the Farabloc board of directors as well as former Executive Director of the British Columbia Chiropractic Association.
If you would like to give it a go yourself, Shop for the Farabloc product here or contact us today!
Tripawds Get Phantom Pain Relief with Farabloc Drug-Free Therapy
Tripawd Pawrents Describe Post-Amputation Pain Relief with Farabloc
The Electromagnetic Field and Phantom Limb Pain Connection in Animals, People
Tagged: amputation, three legged dogs, training