Last night I took Elo to an appointment with a physical therapist. I know that three-legged dogs can have physical issues, due to the way their bodies have to compensate for their missing leg, and I wanted to find out what I can expect with Elo in the future and what I can do to prolong his mobility.
Turns out, Elo is perfect! He is very strong overall and is only slightly weaker in his core strength on his left side (the one with the missing leg) than his right side. His back is straight--she said that sometimes dogs missing a leg will get a curve in their spine, and he doesn't have one at all! His right rear leg is strong and his hip measured 170 degrees. She said normal is 162-165 and that if I were to have it x-rayed it would probably be rated excellent. So essentially what that mean is there is very little chance of him becoming displastic later in life!!
We have a short exercise program to do with him and all the dogs. The first exercise is a sit-to-stand, in which the dogs are to get into a standing position from a sit without stepping forward or moving his front feet. This requires him to bear more weight on his rear leg to stand up. So we are to do 5-10 reps every other day.
He is also supposed to do side-lying sit-ups to maintain core strength. To do these, you begin with the dog laying on flat on either side. You hold the front leg that is on the ground lightly so that it is not touching the ground and they can't use it to help push themselves up, then you lure the dog with a treat so that he curves up to the side and ends with his nose near his tail. Back down to the ground and repeat for 10 reps on each side every other day.
We are also supposed to do heeling, 5 minutes on the right side and 5 minutes on the left with circles and serpentines and figure 8's. This will require teaching him to heel first, so we will be working up to it. In the mean time, she said that just walking will be good for him, as it is more structured than playing in the back yard. And since I can't take him for a walk due to his reactivity . . . we will be working up to that as well.