Caring For Three-Legged Pets: Muscular Imbalances

You Guys!
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Yesterday, as some of you may have figured out, I pulled an April Fool’s day prank and told you my leg grew back! That’s not entirely true (although I think I fooled a few of you!) I still do, indeed, have three legs. This has required me, as you might have guessed, to learn to maneuver my way through life in a slightly different way than other animals. That’s fine and dandy, but as I’ve been growing, MomFOD has noticed a few things about me that she’s concerned about in the long term. For instance, when I sit, my stump comes down to the ground, leaving my right hip over-rotated and over-extended, which is probably causing some muscular imbalances. My left leg, which I use for jumping, is very well developed and strong. MomFOD knows from personal experience that, in humans, overuse of one side of the body can lead to some troubles and require therapy to correct.
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So is this something to worry about in pets? MomFOD called in expert Dr. Chitra Natarajan of Pet’s First Veterinary in Chicago, IL to get a few answers to our questions.
Note how when I sit, my stump comes just as low as my foot. What's that doing to my hips?

Note how when I sit, my stump comes just as low as my foot. What’s that doing to my hips?

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MomFOD: Many cats and dogs, for whatever reason, have only three legs. It seems like this would not only provide mobility challenges, but also long-term muscular challenges due to balance issues and over-compensation. Do you feel that dogs and cats with this issue can develop muscular imbalances over time?
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Dr. C: It depends on how they adapt to being three-legged and how old they were when it happened, whether they are overweight or not, and whether it is the front or back leg.  In my opinion, over time, any three-legged dog or cat, whether it is the front or back leg, will develop some imbalance either due to overcompensation or due to age changes.
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MomFOD: Are there specific issues that might develop in dogs versus cats because of a difference in the way each species walks?
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Dr. C: Cats are more nimble and adapt easier than dogs.
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MomFOD: What types of treatment would you recommend for three-legged pets?
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Dr. C: Joint protectants earlier than normal pets, massage therapy, acupuncture if needed, chiropractic care, healthy diet and weight management.
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MomFOD: What kinds of symptoms should people look for that might signal that a pet is having mobility or muscular issues that require treatment?
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Dr. C: If they are unable to move around as well as they did before or [they appear] to lose balance all of a sudden.
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MomFOD: Do you recommend  regular maintenance visits or is it alright to bring your pet in only when they exhibit symptoms of discomfort?
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Dr. C: Regular maintenance visits are needed whether you have a three-legged or normal pet.  It will help us catch issues earlier before they become a problem.
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MomFOD: Is there anything that people can do at home to provide comfort to their pets, such as at-home massage or other therapies?
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Dr. C: Massage therapy, weight management, chiropractic care and lots of LOVE.
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So you see, having a pet with three legs doesn’t really require too much more maintenance than a pet with four legs. The most important things are diet and weight management, proper joint support, and supplemental therapy, if it becomes necessary. I would also like to add that, in the case of cats, pets missing their front leg require extra precautions because they can jump high but don’t have the landing cushion of both front legs whereas, like in my case, I can’t jump as high, but my landing wheels are perfectly in order.
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Watch me jump!

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Don’t let a pet’s disability stop you from adopting! Three-legs is hardly a disability! Now, on to getting MomFOD to start that at-home massage routine…
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Love,
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Crepes.
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About Dr. Chitra Natarajandrc

Dr. Chitra Natarajan, or Dr. C as she is known to her clients and patients in the Chicago area, has been in practice for almost 16 years. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College in New York and both her Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In 2000, after looking into alternative approaches to further help her patients, Dr. C became certified in veterinary acupuncture by the Chi Institute in Florida. Since then, Dr. C has taken multiple courses in different alternative medicine modalities such as western herbs, Chinese herbs and homotoxicology. Dr. C lives with two orange tabby cats, Fiona and Fanny, who decided to adopt her in 1995 while she was a senior in veterinary school. In her free time, she loves playing tennis, improving her proficiency in Italian and spending time with her family and friends.

 

 

 

 

***Disclosure: Dr. C is our personal veterinarian, however no compensation of any sort was exchanged by either party to run this story. ***

21 thoughts on “Caring For Three-Legged Pets: Muscular Imbalances

  1. Great informative post! Our Mommy thinks you jump marvelously, especially to a bar stool that moves!

    Happy Wednesday!
    xoxo

    Pee Ess – we think at home massage sounds deee-vine. maybe we could get our Mommy to do that, too.

  2. I wish more humans would realize that a missing limb is not that big a deal if you are a kitty! They are such whiners over their own issues, but we kitties adapt a lot better.

  3. Now I’m adding stuntcat to your growing list of professions and talents Crepes! Next you’ll be driving a taxi or working as an adviser to the Govenor- unless you do already?!

  4. Oh Crepes you’re fabulous! Your Mom shared some good info here and I’m happy that you will be enjoying some massages in your near future…..I get those from my Mom too but for my arthritis – it works!!!

    Hugs, Sammy

  5. Good questions for your MomFOD to ask, Crepes. We’ve been concerned about any mobility issues that Cousin Earl might suffer later in life from one foreleg, especially because he likes to get up on high things and jump down. That’s a lot more stress for one leg to take. Sounds like really great advice, especially weight management, which our aunt is doing for Cousin Earl who eats as enthusiastically as Ashton. Thanks for sharing this post!

  6. There was a cat at Cat Care that had three legs and she moved around so well you couldn’t even tell she had a disability! Cats are amazing at adapting to things; they are incredibly resilient.

  7. Hi Crepes , My Kiki lost his leg as an adult including his entire hip. Did not slow him down one bit. He still beat his sister Sidney to dinner every night. And then tried to eat hers too! Meow and purrs.

  8. As usaul you have inspired me to burst into song !

    As usual you have inspired me to burst into sorta song !

    Three Crepes Legs
    Three Crepes Legs
    See how they Jump
    See how they Jump
    They jumped for a crunchy treat
    Seamlessly not missing the beat
    Did you ever see such a sight in your life?
    As three Crepes Legs
    Three Crepes Legs

  9. What a wonderful post Crepes. I shared where I could. Loved seeing you jump. On the rescue cam I watch they have 2 kitties missing their legs and one kitty with a stump like you have. They all can do anything a kitty who has 4 legs can do. In fact one is even blind.
    Sue B

  10. Really great informative post, Crepes. My Human’s first kitty Doogie had 3 legs and he got along very well for 15 years. (She loved hearing his little hop before he entered a room.)

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Stumps up? Stumps down? What are your thoughts?