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Frequently Asked Questions About Tripawd Dogs and Cats, Part 1

If you are facing the amputation decision for your dog or cat, we know how hard it is to envision your pet as a Tripawd. When doctors told us that Jerry’s leg had to go, amputation wasn’t an automatic decision for us. We debated it, because just couldn’t picture our strong, active dog on three legs. But we also weren’t ready to say goodbye to Jerry, so we took that Tripawd leap of faith.

Jerry, before amputation.

During his recovery, Jerry taught us that three legged dogs and cats are stronger than we realize. Even if the recovery is harder than anyone predicted, Tripawd heroes still don’t feel sorry for themselves or look back on their four-legged past. They just want to get on with the day and make the most of what’s in front of them now, whether that means occupying sunbeams on a lazy Sunday, or bird hunting once the healing is over.

Spirit Jerry, our fearless leader.

Everyone has an opinion about amputee animals, but only you know what’s best for your pet. We are not here to tell you what to do, but we hope these common pre-surgery questions and answers about amputee dogs and cats will ease your worries and help you reach the best decision for you and your pet.

Misty catching sunbeams.

Q: Is Amputation Right for My Dog or Cat?

Amputation is a huge decision and there are no right or wrong choices.


Q: Is Amputation Surgery Risky?

The biggest risk is being on the operating table, and like any surgery, you must prepare yourself for the chance that something can go wrong. But once a dog or cat recovers, they typically go about living just as they did before. Usually on a modified scale, but with a great quality of life.


Q: Is Amputation for Me or For My Pet?

Every human wonders if amputation is a selfish decision and chances are good that if you proceed, someone you know will give you a hard time about it.

  • The fact is that amputation buys quality time for dogs and cats who are good surgery candidates.
  • The most recent Tripawds Member Quality of Life Survey shows that the majority of Tripawd parents were glad they chose to amputate for more quality time — even if they didn’t get the survival time they had hoped for.
Roop and Mamma.

Q: My Vet Says My Pet Isn’t a Candidate and I Should Euthanize. Now what?

Get a second opinion ASAP.

  • Not all vets are open-minded or educated enough to know the reality about Tripawd dogs and cats, especially when it comes to older and giant breed Tripawd dogs. Here’s how to find a qualified vet who is.
  • If you’re dealing with cancer, it’s even more critical to seek a second opinion from a board-certified veterinary oncologist who understands amputation and diagnosing cancer.
  • Sometimes even third opinions are necessary to give you the peace of mind about the amputation decision.
Jill the Cat and Dr. Hohenhaus.

Q: Will My Dog or Cat Hate Me?

The short answer is no. Heavy duty post-surgery painkillers can induce whining, crying and anti-social behavior but these common post-surgery and pain medication side-effects don’t mean your pet is mad at you.

  • As humans we project our thought processes onto our animals, but the fact is, they don’t think like we do.
  • Your pet will not be angry, nor will they look back and wish they had that fourth leg. Animals don’t have these complex emotions of guilt, blame or anger, which is why they love unconditionally.
Bart and Darcy.

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Q: Do Tripawd Dogs and Cats Have “Normal” Lives?

Normal all depends on how you and your dog or cat define it. You must be conscientious about your Tripawd’s fitness and activity levels in order to avoid injury, but there’s no reason why your pet can’t continue doing the things he or she enjoys most.

Wyatt and Titus.

Q: I Need Some Evidence. How Can I Talk to Other Tripawd Pawrents?

Hop over to our Tripawd Discussion Forums where many wise and experienced Tripawd moms and dads are ready to help you in a non-judgemental, supportive environment. The Tripawds community is not “pro-amputation” by any means; we are here to give you the good, the not-so-good and the beauty of living life to the fullest on three legs. We are supportive no matter what you decide. See you there!

The Tripawd Nation Rocks!

Stay tuned for more facts about three legged pets in upcoming blog posts. Meanwhile, for more in-depth answers and tips about Tripawd cats and dogs, hop over to:

The Top Five Questions About Amputation And Coping with Bone Cancer
Jerry’s Required Reading List
Partial vs. Full Leg Amputation for Pets, What’s Better?
Questions to Ask Your Veterinary Oncologist

Read All Tripawds FAQs



1 thought on “Frequently Asked Questions About Tripawd Dogs and Cats, Part 1”

  1. Because I was unaware of the Tripawds Community at the time, I had to make the decision to amputate “on my own” through a cloud of fear and panic. I joined six days after my Happy Hannah’s amputation. I cannot imagine how “we” could have gotten through her somewhat challenging recovery without the support, understanding and vast knowlege of this community. I felt like I was adrift out to sea and they through me a lifeline…and I’ve never let go.

    You post covers so succinctly and with clarity, the foundation we all need to make this decision.

    ‘Hope a “link” to this will be easily available/visible for new people searching this site when faced with the possibility of amputation.

    With gratitude fkr all you do,

    Sally and My Eternal Light Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle


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