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Althea’s Free Canine Rehab Evaluation
I took my 10 month old left front amputee puppy Althea to the rehab vet for a consult today. A little about her …. she was found as a stray in Georgia with a broken left front leg. She was picked up by animal control and taken to a high kill shelter. Luckily a rescue stepped in and got her to Vet right away. The Vet in Georgia decided that the leg had been broken for a while and was already healing improperly. The leg could not be saved so she had her amputation surgery on July 5. They amputated the leg and the shoulder blade. She stayed at the Vet a whole month and then she went into a foster home in Manhattan for two weeks before she came to me. As soon as I saw her I fell in love and I knew that as long as my current fur family accepted her that she was going to be mine. She plays and wins with my 70 pound pitbull. She has no idea that she is missing a leg and my pitbull quits before she does. She runs up and down the stairs and thinks the ramp upstairs is a sliding board.
I also have a front amputee Golden Retriever who was amputated in January due to a bone tumor. My Golden is showing Althea that amputees can do anything and that my home is the place to be if you are an amputee because they are spoiled rotten. I try very hard to treat Althea like a “normal” dog and she is expected to follow all the same rules as the other dogs. We are working on obedience but of course she is a very easily distracted 10 month old puppy. When she came to me I noticed that she walks hunched over and turns her front foot inward. She must have been walking like this for a while because her bottom foot pad is callused and enlarged on the one side. The Vet believes that she learned to walk this way to compensate for her broken leg. I cannot imagine what she had to endure as a poor little stray puppy with a painful broken leg. So I knew she needed to go to the rehab vet to see what could be done to make her the best Tripawd she can be.
I saw Dr Russell Howe-Smith VMD, CCRT at PetPT in Cherry Hill, NJ. He was amazing. When he came in the room he immediately sat in the floor and let Althea lick his face. You can definitely tell that he is a true animal lover. He examined her and manipulated all of her joints and muscles. I was very surprised that she yelped a little when he did certain things. I did not think she was sore or having any pain but as we all know dogs are very good at hiding their pain (especially our tough tripods). He said her front carpal (wrist) bones are a little loose and out of place. He showed me how to help reposition them and do glide movements to help relieve the tension in her wrist. When he repositioned her wrist, her foot did straighten out but it immediately went back to being turned. He recommended a wrist brace to help keep it straightened and for me to do the glide exercises twice a day. He feels that if she wears the brace a few hours everyday that in a year or so her wrist will remodel and hopefully straighten out.
He recommended the Carpoflex X brave from therapaw.com. I have already ordered it and its on its way. He said if she continues to walk with the front leg turned on its side that eventually the wrist will collapse and she will have more serious issues. He also manipulated her back legs. She yelped when he pushed on her iliopsoas muscles. They are the muscles down by the pelvis on the inside of the hip. He said that because she is hunched over and rotates her spine that she is rotating her pelvis which is straining her hip/pelvis muscles. He recommended applying heat for five minutes twice a day and showed me some positions to help stretch her spine. He also recommended feeding her on the stairs so that she has to stretch her pelvis muscles. I did that when we got home and she did seem to stretch to reach the food in the bowl.
He said otherwise she is a happy puppy and that he would not recommend any ongoing therapy at this time. He said I could apply the brace at home but if I had any trouble with the fit that I could bring her in or send him videos to make sure I have it positioned properly. He even gave me his personal email if I had any questions. The visit was also very reasonably priced for being a Vet specialist. I would recommend PetPT and Dr Howe-Smith to anyone. His office has multiple water treadmills and he does chiropractic and acupuncture. His staff was amazing and even changed my appointment when I got stuck late at work. I would definitely recommend a rehab consult to every Tripawd dog or any dog experiencing mobility problems.
I did not think that Althea had any pain so I was shocked when he made her yelp. Dogs hide their pain so well and it is always better to treat injuries early but sometimes we can not even tell there is a problem. I plan to be very diligent with the brace and hopefully she will just ignore it. Getting her sit still to put heat on her hip/pelvis muscles and to do the wrist glide movements will be a challenge since she is a bouncy energetic 10 month old puppy but I will make it work.
The Tripawds website has been a lifesaver since I started my Tripawd Journey with my Golden Retriever Abby in January and now with my new addition. It is priceless to get support from people who have been through what you are going through.
~Amber and Althea (aka: ambular29)