Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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HI Everyone, I’m new to this site. First I apologize if I’m not posting this in the right place – I was a bit confused as to whether it should be a new topic or a reply. I met a tripod rescue dog (2 1/2 weeks post op) the other day that is up for adoption. I fell in love with him and will be arranging for the required home visit before anything final can happen. I’ve never had a disabled pet so I started doing some research on things I need to know to help him recover and have a great life. I’m starting to wonder if I’m getting in over my head for knowingly adopting a tripod so soon after the surgery. I see tripod dogs running around and playing etc…so I didn’t really think at first that it was going to be a problem…..I’m just a little concerned now finding out what some of the issues are. Any advice to help me make this decision would be greatly appreciated. Once I get a pet, I go all in so I want this to be right. Am I crazy?
Hi Sandy, welcome!
I apologize for the brief response but I’m away from my laptop and will write more tomorrow. I wanted to get your post approved so others can chime in.
It’s wise of you to think about these things! Tell us a bit about your lifestyle and what you expect from your relationship with a new dog. Also, do you have other animals in the house? Young kids? And what breed type is this doggie?
Back here tomorrow….
18 October 2009
Hi and welcome.
You are very wise to explore everything before adopting.
My first Tripawd was a little pug who lost a rear leg to mast cell cancer. I was devestated when the vet told me Maggie would need an amputation- I didn’t remember ever seeing a 3 legged dog before.
Fast forward several years and I only have one pug who has abandoned me for my dad. I start looking at rescues and find a very cute little pug mix on Petfinder that I fall in love with, and she is a Tripawd! I adopted her when she was 10 months old, she is now getting close to 3.5 years old.
There are some things that you need to keep in mind when living with a Tripawd. Traction is hugely important so slippery floors need to have rugs or yoga mats. Long walks or hikes and burst activities are not the best idea. Being on three, especially from a young age puts extra strain on the back and other limbs. Keeping you tripawd strong and lean is very important. I play food games and puzzles, train obedience or tricks, work on balance equipment and do Nose Work with Elly everyday (rotating activities so we do different activities each day). We do go for walks most days but depending on what ever else we are doing that day they can be very short.
With the pup 2.5 weeks post op he should be pretty much healed but is probably not very strong. Elly was 2.5 MONTHS post op when I got her but was not very strong at all. You would need to start slowly and work on core strength and endurance. There is lots of information here on rehab, exercises and activities for Tripawds. Here is a sample of exercise blog posts.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
The dog is a 1 yr old Jack Russell Terrier mix who weighs 16 lbs. He ended up at a shelter on the euthanasia list and a rescue organization got him out. His left front leg evidently had some nerve damage that was severe enough to require amputation.
My kids are grown so it’s just my husband and me. We lost both our dogs 3 weeks apart in Feb 2016- one from cancer and one from heart issues/collapsed trachea. I’m home a lot and really just want a small happy little dog to pal around with. This little guy seems very sweet and easy going (but he is just 2 weeks post-op and probably pretty stressed about the changes he has been through). I didn’t think much about him being a tripod until I got home and started looking up how to care for him. The half of my house we live in has tile and a wood laminate. I have 9″ step down to the family room (no other stairs). The rescue said his foster home has tile and wood and he’s doing fine. But I think he’ll need something to help with traction . The area is too big to put area rugs so I started looking at the sock, boots, stuff to put on the paws etc but got a little confused about what the best option would be. Then I realized he will probably need to rehab/exercises etc. Not really sure what that will entail. Just feeling a little overwhelmed but I may just be analyzing too much. Once I get involved I go all the way so I just wondered if anyone could enlighten me before I take this leap.
27 August 2014
Welcome, Sandy! Like Karen said, it’s great you’re trying to figure out if this dog is the right fit for your life.
Tile and wood laminate shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you don’t mind putting some rugs down. Socks and boots aren’t a great full time solution (or haven’t been for us – they’re a hassle to put on and fall off). We have always lived in apartments with wood or tile floors and I have focused on putting runners at points along the paths my dog uses most, as well as at least one area rug in a location she likes to play.
The step into the family room sounds fine. Again, I have stair treads that I put down and that has solved any issues our dog had with going up and down stairs.
Rehab is a good idea. What that has looked like for us is an initial visit where we learned exercises and then putting them into place on our own at home. Jack didn’t love being handled, so we were better off incorporating those things into our daily training rather than having ongoing visits. We also take her swimming at our vet’s pool frequently, but that’s been a new addition to our routine lately now that she’s four years post-op.
Other than that, the major difference between our dog and a four-legged companion is the length of walks, like Karen mentioned. If you’re really into hiking and want a companion on those outings, this might be a limitation, but I’ve found it doesn’t affect us too much.
Good luck! He sounds lovely.
Sandy, you sound like you would make a great pet parent to this pup!
I agree with previous comments and especially that traction is a must. Slippery floors are a Tripawd dog’s worst enemy (same thing for senior dogs). Throw rugs and carpet runners are much more practical than boots. Dog boots are great for outdoors and unexpected trips to places with slippery floors, but around the house, most people find they’re not using boots every day like they thought they would. Carpet runners aren’t always pretty but they work and dogs will usually naturally gravitate toward them for safety on slick floors. I’m sure the pup gets around fine now but over time his body will suffer from the constant compensation of trying to get around on slippery floors with an altered gate.
Yes, rehab is SO helpful! You will learn what this dog’s needs are and how you can address them. We feel so strongly about rehab therapy for all Tripawds that the Tripawds Foundation will pay for your first rehab visit . And keep in mind that rehab therapy doesn’t have to be a forever thing…most people go for a few weeks to get the dog or cat evaluated, learn some good exercises that they can do at home, and establish a relationship with a good practitioner in case they are needed in the future.
I hope this helps. Let us know if you adopt this doggie!