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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Dudley finally has done a couple of short rides in the car to my sister’s house. We did a slumber party for my birthday this weekend and he spent the night hanging out on a big cushion with the young nephews. I discovered that the easiest way to transport him right now is to move the passenger seat in my car as forward as possible and allow him to sit on the floorboard behind the seat with ample cushions, etc. He gets grumpy with me trying to lift him or putting a harness on him but we will work on that as we build more trust. He isn’t the biggest fan of me right now because I’m the “mean mom” who forces him to go outside and do bathroom business when it’s raining. I don’t take it to heart because he is playful with me in the morning when we get up 🙂
We have an acupuncture treatment scheduled in mid-December with my acupuncture vet. The acupuncture vet has a full veterinary practice inland (Philomath, Oregon) but he comes to the coast once a week to treat patients at a veterinary practice that allows him to have use of 2 rooms for the entire day. He is booked solid for the entire day, so to be able to get a session with a new patient that soon was awesome! He’s actually doing an hour long session so that we can do both the cat and Dudley back to back.
Now that it is raining a lot, we haven’t gotten in as many regular walks on a daily basis. He is super resistant to going out in the rain but doesn’t want to wear a rain coat. However if he is with his weekend dog buddies, he is all “what rain?” I am starting to see the “C shape” becoming more pronounced. I will start doing the stretches that we can do inside to keep that from becoming a problem. His tail really leans to the left and when he’s excited and running, he really contorts his body. The one problem about being inside is that I live in a small 29 feet trailer. He still gets his daily midday walk with my mom and also gets to hang out over in their little cottage with them. Jerry, as someone who does a lot of traveling in an RV, do you have advice for those rainy/cold situations? I get him outside, but it isn’t as long as I would like. I’m worried that he will turn into too much of a couch potato! It seems like his remaining back leg is getting a little muscle wasting and I want to work on building that back up.
It’s a fine balance figuring out how to keep him active but also let him just settle in to the fact that he has found his forever home. At some point, I am looking to invest in one of those rain jackets for when it just starts pouring for days and is cold and windy. He has some issues with the rain from when he lived in Texas and was living with his foster family dogs who taught him some behaviors that I have to train out of him. A lot of “I’m scared, Mom” and then being lovingly coddled. His foster mom was amazing but I was informed that she had a tendency to baby her dogs. I think that might be where the slightly defiant teenager attitude comes from…ha ha! As soon as I can get him used to wearing a harness, I think that will be a big help. I got the Joyride harness but I think I will be looking at the Ruffmaster when I can afford it! I had a harness that was kind of like a saddle for my 110 lb GSD and it was amazing for when he needed guidance up and down stairs, etc. Dudley doesn’t pull when he’s walking but when he locks his front legs because he doesn’t want to go forward, I feel that a harness would be better for moving him. I’m still learning a lot of what he is ok with involving body handling. The growling is more a warning and he hasn’t really snapped at me but I want him to feel comfortable and trust me if I need to hoist him up. That will take time. He is definitely a boxer/pitbull breed heavy mix. I keep those characteristics in mind when working with him.
He has also started growing longer hairs at the end of his “meat stump”…my affectionate term for the amputated side. It was interesting to see how much hair has started growing back, I assume in response to moving to a colder climate than Houston Texas. Going from a GSD/Malamute mix double coat to a Boxer/Pitbull mix has been a learning experience!
I really want to say thank you to everyone who has commented on my post. I appreciate your insight and observations so much! Dudley was not one of those amputees who bounced back right away. He went into a really deep depression which is why I take so much time with coaxing him beyond his comfort zone. I do little pushes with him but also pay attention to his body language. Although when he has been holding his urine/poo for over 12 hours, he gets the “mean mom” I will walk him a little ways down the road across from us and get him into the grassy fern brush areas to encourage him to do the deed. I keep reminding myself that he hasn’t been a year into being an amputee yet. Lots of learning to do for us both <3
Well happy birthday to you! Sounds like a fun pawty and a great day with your #1 guy. Best present ever! So is that acupuncture visit. Two in one on the same day is such a bonus. The universe is looking out for you guys.
He is super resistant to going out in the rain but doesn’t want to wear a rain coat. However if he is with his weekend dog buddies, he is all “what rain?”
Of course! Well it shows that you will be able to work with that behavior, and help him see that going out with you in the rain is still a good time. I would try without the rain coat at first, even though it’s a total pain to have a wet dog inside the RV.
I am starting to see the “C shape” becoming more pronounced. I will start doing the stretches that we can do inside to keep that from becoming a problem.
Yes there’s lots you can do to minimize the compensation. It will still happen, but by strengthening and stretching he will do it much less. Our Wyatt did the same thing, and the c shape would become worse when he was achy or pulled a muscle.
Jerry, as someone who does a lot of traveling in an RV, do you have advice for those rainy/cold situations? I get him outside, but it isn’t as long as I would like. I’m worried that he will turn into too much of a couch potato!
We also live in our RV 24/7, and Wyatt Ray grew up in our 27′ fifth wheel so I totally understand your concern. Keep in mind that for a Tripawd (and really many four-legged dogs), it’s not about the amount of physical exercise that makes a dog happy, but the amount of mental engagement that happens on a daily basis. So, balancing physical activity with interactive brain games is key to helping a Tripawd stay happy when the weather is bad and even when it is not. You can make your own or buy games, and other activities like nosework and trick dog training can even be done inside the RV.
It seems like his remaining back leg is getting a little muscle wasting and I want to work on building that back up.
Leg strength is part of it, but core strength is more important to focus on. These activities can be done in an RV too, and you can build him into his daily activity like how we put a K9 FIT Bone in front of Wyatt’s food and water station (and now our Nellie has to do the same if she wants to eat or drink).
It’s a fine balance figuring out how to keep him active but also let him just settle in to the fact that he has found his forever home.
Definitely! We are four months in with Nellie and I think she’s now understanding we aren’t going anywhere. As you build your bond you can overcome those coddling behaviors that are so not helpful to dogs.
I got the Joyride harness but I think I will be looking at the Ruffmaster when I can afford it!
Consider applying for the Kaiserin Pet Cancer Care Package! You can get a Ruffwear Flagline harness which is pretty awesome, and a little lighter which is good for a Tripawd who is a little leery of harnesses. The package is first come, first served and still no takers this month so hurry! And yes I love the top handle that allows me to assist Nellie and point her in the right direction.
I really want to say thank you to everyone who has commented on my post. I appreciate your insight and observations so much!
You are so welcome! That’s why we are here. Keep us posted on how he’s doing.
Jerry! Thank you so much for the information and the reassurance about activity levels, etc. I made sure to disclose my living situation to the rescue and let them know that we did have a fenced yard with a covered porch on the property as well as plenty of “country roads” right across from us to walk along. A lot of rescues will not adopt to smaller living spaces (understandably) unless they feel comfortable. Knowing that you all were doing the RV life with a large dog, I knew you would have good insight.
I didn’t apply for the cancer/amputation gear fund because Dudley lost his leg due to being hit by a car. I did, however, submit an application to the regular gear fund. I will also look into the Angel Exchange as well. When my GSD passed away, I sold his unused wheelchair to a family who needed it for $250 less than I paid for it. They were excited to purchase it and sent me pictures of their GSD with degenerative myelopathy using the wheelchair down on the beach! The family also messaged me pictures of her getting acupuncture at my acupuncture vet that I had told them about <3
I will steal that idea of getting the Fitbone and having him stand on it to eat or drink. He has an elevated food and water area so that works perfectly!!! He is very food motivated so I think he will do well with the balancing while eating.
I sent the information about your Tripawds Rescue Fund to the Corridor Rescue staff. They were very excited about it and said they would pass it on to the medical team for when they do amputation/adoption on Benjamin Buttons. I think that if they had known about the tripawd community, they would have been able to get Dudley adopted sooner but he was meant to be with our family <3
Aww you are so welcome! And I know how you feel, I wasn’t sure we would be approved for Wyatt Ray or Nellie when we applied but thankfully they saw that yes even people living in RVs can provide a safe environment for a dog of any size.
I’m so happy you applied for the Gear Fund! And I apologize for not mentioning it sooner, I really should have (and also remembered that Dudley isn’t an amputee because of cancer … duhhh, Monday!).
That’s such a sweet story about your pup’s wheels. There is nothing better than passing along the things that helped our dogs do so well when they needed assistance.
As for the Fitbone, right now you can even use a couch cushion or firm pillow, 3″ foam, anything to provide an uneven, unstable surface. I can’t wait to see Dudley giving it a try.
Thanks for spreading the word about the rescue fund!!!
18 October 2009
Hi and a late welcome.
My current Tripawd is a little rear amp Pug mix named Elly. She lost her leg after being hit by a car at 7 months old, I adopted her when she was 10 months old, I was her fourth home. We just passed our 7th gotcha day, she will be 8 years old next month.
His foster mom was amazing but I was informed that she had a tendency to baby her dogs.
This made me laugh a little- that is laughing in commiseration! Elly’s foster mom brought her to my home and in exchange I agreed to take her to her last eye vet appointment, she had bilateral cherry eye surgery right before I adopted her. Anyway- we had a good first visit and we decided to keep Elly for a two week trial period (yeah, right!). On her way out the door foster mom said “oh, by the way, she doesn’t ride great in the car so I let her ride on my lap”.
Thus began our odyssey of getting Elly comfortable in vehicles. It also turns out that Elly has severe separation anxiety related to vehicles- in hindsight it wasn’t a good idea to have foster mom drop her off. It happened to her 4 times- she was taken somewhere and left with strangers… no wonder she doesn’t ride well in cars!
I can share more later… but I wanted to at least say hello!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy
Hi Karen and crew <3
It’s always an adventure figuring out what our adopted pets went through before us. I’m very fortunate that the last 2 1/2 years of Dudley’s life was spent at the rescue I got him from and they have been very communicative with me. They have a facebook page and I spent hours going through their timeline looking at videos and watching the transformation of Dudley over time. He went to so many adoption events and was always such a sweetheart. The staff loved him but he just couldn’t find his forever home. And this was before he had his amputation. He is basically ready to met everyone with tail wagging, people and dogs alike. Unless you’re the person picking him up after a 2 day ride in a van full of barking dogs, ha ha!
I just think that we were meant to be together. I didn’t want to adopt from out of state…but when I kept looking at his profile on the petfinder site, I kept thinking that he was perfect for the dog I needed to have. His mobility issues were actually a plus for me. Having gone from a 110 lb elderly GSD who eventually lost complete use of his back legs as well as an abdominal mass to a 3 legged boxer/pitbull super mutt was perfect. Dudley is really just the happiest boy but I am figuring out the little triggers for him, what gives him hesitation. My GSD was the same. He bonded really close with me and was my Velcro boy until I had to say goodbye <3 Dudley is more aloof but he is letting his naughty side and his silly side come through <3 He really is an awesome dog but is a very sensitive soul. The rescue said “he basically has the personality of a cat” which was fine because I am a total cat person as well. My late husband was very much “you must be the alpha, don’t talk to the dog, etc.” After he passed away 3 years ago, my relationship with our GSD changed and it is probably why Kota was able to make it to the age of 12. Kota needed the emotional investment as he aged and not the structure. My husband loved animals but he was of that old school mentality about training, which works for some breeds but not so well with others.
22 February 2013
Awww….thanks for sharing more about Dudley and Koda too. You have such insight jnto understanding each individual fog, their needs, their personalities, etc.
Love following Dudley’s journey
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!
Some adoptions are just meant to be.
I was putting up pictures of a doggo called Lobi to help my overwhelmed rescue vet find him a home. I loved, loved, loved him from the picture but hadn’t met him… long story short he ended up being adopted by….. me!!! And I still hadn’t met him until he was brought to my home.
He’s called Toby now and after no one wanting him even my Mom says she’d take him in a heartbeat! He’s a giant lap dog. He’s in good health and exuberant spirits but after a tough street life he has a few scars, healed broken legs and the odd limp. His exuberance can be a bit much but his face just makes me smile.
Oh and he owes me 3 new coffee cups!
Carolina!!! I love your story of how Toby came to you <3 I used to be that person who was all “why adopt from out of state or from another country when there are perfectly adoptable dogs local?” I didn’t understand the situation until I started looking to adopt from our local shelter. There were dogs I was interested in and who would have been a good fit and I did have a potential older female large breed dog who had mobility issues that I was considering but she found a home with a couple who were better suited for her. I realized that even though I absolutely love my senior dogs, I needed to try and find a dog that I would have a bit more time to build a life with. My mom had just watched me go through the process of saying goodbye to my senior GSD and said that maybe I needed to look for a younger dog. Dudley is more of a family dog than just my dog. I chose him because he was younger and good with children so that he could be my nephews dog as well. My sister and her family live just a town away from us and we all spend time together on the weekends. I live with my parents who are in their mid 70’s with health issues and my mom walks Dudley on short walks while I am at work. She was just diagnosed with congestive heart failure and said that she noticed the difference after she started walking him in her chest tightness, in a good way. My dad is most likely experiencing vascular dementia and he absolutely adores Dudley. They will bring Dudley over to their little house to hang out while I am at work and he makes my dad so happy!
Dudley really is the perfect fit for our family. It doesn’t matter that he came all the way from Texas to Oregon for us. I love watching him have these new experiences and also seeing him realize that he is home… we are 4 car rides in and every car ride has ended in something fun for him! It amazes me how a lot of the street dogs know when they have found a good place. And also how accepting and loving he is towards everyone he’s met so far. The rescue I got him from gets dogs off the street outside of Houston from a 14 mile stretch of industrial waste land. I looked at the area on google maps and it is just the perfect dumping ground. They feed at least 100 dogs and cats on a daily basis and pull the worst cases as they have room at their rescue. The pictures of Dudley from when he was on the street were bad. Fortunately he had a buddy who protected him who is still with the rescue. Texas street dogs have heartworm, mange, wounds from dog fighting rings, etc. Not the ideal adoption picture but I love a scrappy underdog. I’m the person who would go into a shelter and adopt the worst case situation 🙂 The ironic thing with Dudley is that someone had covered his adoption fee. If a local person had adopted him, it would have cost nothing. All we had to pay was the transport fee, thank goodness. The rescue representative that I talked to said that basically “people in Texas have homes with stairs and a 3 legged dog is not ideal for them.” I interpreted that as “people don’t want to adopt a broken dog, whether in Texas or elsewhere”
11 January 2022
Where I live (New England), rescue dogs almost exclusively come from out of state. I’ve adopted three now without being able to meet them first. It’s definitely nerve wracking, but all three have been wonderful dogs! I’m not sure I actually know anyone who was able to meet their dog prior to bringing it home. Even my friends who have purebred dogs from breeders, they’ve had to travel out of state and in most cases the breeder has selected their puppy for them.
Honestly, the part of getting a rescue dog from out of state that bothers me most is the way the dogs get transported. It’s clearly a very stressful process spending days crated in a dark trailer with a bunch of other dogs who are also stressed and barking. After doing this a few times, I hope the next time I’m ready to adopt that I have the time/resources to pick up the dog myself. I think/hope it will be a less stressful transition for the dog.
Your Dudley seems a perfect match for your stage in life and he gets to be a service therapy dog for you and your family!!!! Dogs really do love to have a role and purpose in the family. Anyone with a doggo who has cried after hearing bad news knows what it’s like to be smothered in their efforts to comfort us. Your parents and family have given Dudley a real purpose and his days of misery are long behind him.
It’s awesome that you’re willing to rescue an out of state dog sight unseen! Poor transportation and even good long haul transportation can take a toll on a dog with health issues. This is one of the reasons I started to prepare special home cooked diets – I moved country and would not leave my elderly dog behind. She had a terrible time and did not bounce back very well. I changed her diet completely and within 3 weeks she was like a new dog!
Another transportation option, if it’s practical – find someone who’s driving that way to bring the dog. I recently used friends who were on telegram and whatsapp to find someone to transport my new sick rescue cat. It was great. He was part of our network, responsible, kind and wanted to help and I insisted on paying towards his fuel bill.