Three-Legged Labrador Retriever Feels Fine!
5-Year Old Labrador Retriever Looses Leg
Larry was a male, neutered 5-year-old black labrador retriever mixed-breed dog with a penchant for boating. He loved to go out on the family’s 24-foot fishing boat and hang out for the day. Sometimes he jumped in the water for a swim and hauled himself back up on the boat. Most times he just sniffed the tops of beer cans and licked his chops as his brown eyes begged for Cheese Doodles. He was a typical lab.
Sudden Car Accident Changes Everything
On evening at about 7 p.m., just as the sun was setting, the family was packing up the boat and gear after a long day. Larry pulled his usual duties of running around and getting his nose in everybody’s way. No one really paid him much mind; Larry knew what he was doing. Or did he?
Suddenly there was a crunch of tires against the seashells of the parking area, and Larry cried out in pain.
He was trapped under the rear tire of an SUV! No one saw how it happened. The SUV driver did not know what to do, so she pulled forward and released Larry’s right front leg from under the treads. Larry was in shock, but he tried to get up and limp over to his family. He made it about three steps and collapsed.
What Can You Do With a Crushed Leg?
Larry arrived at Doc Truli’s ER in a state of metabolic shock. His gums were pale pink, his heart rate was fast, his pulses thin and thready. He lost blood from his injured leg. Little shards of sickeningly white bone slivers poked up through the black fur, skin, seashell, and sinew mess Larry had left for a right foreleg. Intravenous fluids, strong painkillers, and a few radiographs later, and Larry’s situation was clarified.
“Larry’s radius and ulna are shattered and crushed. His elbow is broken and dislocated and his shoulder was twisted and broken in the accident. It’s possible his nerves to the leg are severed,” said Doc Truli.
“What options do we have?” asked Larry’s devastated family.
“We have to clean the wounds and bandage them. He will need bandage changes daily because of the extensive bacterial infiltration from the parking lot. He is not a candidate for an external fixation device (like scaffolding for the leg), because you need solid bone at the top and bottom of the area to attach the device. Larry’s leg has suffered so much crush injury and dislocations and breaks, there’s nothing to attach the apparatus to” said the Doc. “Furthermore, you need intact nerves to send signals for healing and repair. Larry’s nerve supply to the leg is questionable at best.”
Amputation is Best
“What are you saying? Are you saying he’s going to lose his leg? Because we couldn’t live with a three-legged dog,” said Larry’s mom.
“Many people feel shock and grief when they consider removing their dog’s leg for medical reasons. The dogs do not miss their legs. The humans think it will be a problem; the dogs are happy to be alive!”
Reasons A Dog’s Leg Might Be Amputated
- Massive Trauma
- Infiltrative, painful soft tissue tumor
- Nerve Damage and subsequent leg trauma because the dog cannot feel the damage to the leg
- Infiltrative, dissecting, pernicious infection
Larry’s front leg amputation surgery went fine. Generally, you wish a dog to be an ideal weight before an amputation surgery; extra weight makes recovery difficult. Because dogs carry greater than fifty percent of their weight on the front legs compared to the hind legs, a hind leg amputation is a faster, smoother recovery.
Leg Amputation Recovery in a Dog
Larry healed 100% within 6 weeks. He was up and trying to hobble around 24 hours after surgery (and the morphine drip) started to wear off. He takes a glucosamine supplement and omega 3 fatty acids to help prevent early onset of osteoarthritis in his remaining left front leg. Plus, he went on a diet!