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3 Legged Race

Paper Trained
Scott Sandeman, D.V.M.
Q.)  We are excited to welcome a new friend into our family from our local shelter.  Duchess is a 4 year old Weimaraner mix that is a sweet heart and has immediately fit into our home.  Duchess was apparently injured in an accident and is missing her left rear leg- she has lots of scars but they don’t seem to affect her at all..  She gets around fine on it and can seemingly run forever.  Does she need any special care or exercise to help her stay healthy on three legs?
A.)  Its remarkable what a strong will and loving home can do! Congratulations on your new friend!
Duchess may have survived her biggest challenge just getting adopted-the rest should be easy!  As you have noted, 3-legged dogs can walk, run and get along just fine. Hopefully, she won’t have any other medical issues associated with her injury but some thought should go into the extra work her three functioning limbs have to do.
Interestingly, her right front leg will be the leg picking up most of the slack from the missing left rear one.  Most of the additional weight carrying capacity is shifted to this leg which means it may be the first limb to suffer from arthritis or injury.  
To keep Duchess in great shape, discuss with your veterinarian an optimal weight for her and set a goal to keep her at that weight.  Exercise is critical to a healthy lifestyle but overdoing it is just as harmful as being a couch potato.  Look for activities that need a full range of motion in her joints without a repetitive concussion to her joints like long distance running.  Swimming, walking through tall grass or snow and up hills would be good examples.  As she ages, she may need additional help with supplements like fish oil or prescription anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications.
Congratulations again for adopting such a special friend!

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