German researchers used high-tech infrared cameras to record the movements of dogs missing a fore limb or hind limb as they walked and ran on a treadmill. The tests revealed that the dogs used different coping methods, depending on which limb was missing.
Adjusting to a missing fore limb is more difficult for a dog than dealing with a missing hind limb, for example. Fore limb amputation requires the remaining limbs to undergo careful adaptation to coordinate with each other, a process called "gait compensation." In the case of a hind-limb amputation, the fore limbs continue to act as they normally would in a four-legged dog, so there is little or no compensation strategy.
The difference in compensation strategies may be due to the fact that a dog's fore limbs carry more body weight than the hind limbs.
The research is slated to be presented Thursday at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Prague.