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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I found this site while doing some research on a decision we need to make in the next couple months. We live in Ontario, Canada. A good friend recently adopted two wonderful dogs from Cuba – a mom and her 9 month old son (they live in Vancouver, 5 hour flight away). Mom Stella was pregnant and had 8 beautiful puppies. The first born is small, with an underdeveloped front leg and paw, and we are considering adopting her. We have first choice of the litter and this little one has pulled at my heart.
My question is – in looking through all of the posts on this site, most are about dogs who started with 4 legs and due to injury or disease, require amputation. Can anyone direct me to any posts about pups with congenital issues that lead to only three legs? The pups were born March 14, so most are getting mobile and I see the struggles she is having.
Any direction or links to other posts would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Carolyn, welcome! You came to the right place.
I moved your post here so you could see that there are many dogs who have joined us because they were born with a congenital issue. Here are just a few forum posts for you to browse:
Here are some more (the above results might be repeated here):
One of the challenges that a dog born with a missing limb has, is that they will not develop their balance, proprioception (awareness of one’s body in space) and gait in the same way that a four-legged one does. This makes learning those things challenging. It’s not impossible for them to overcome and a canine rehabilitation therapist can help you help the dog to do that.
A Tripawd can go on to live a relatively normal life, but you can expect to have a greater responsibility in managing the dog’s activity level over time than you would a four-legged one. Most Tripawds will experience joint and muscle issues as they age, but again, you can do lots of things to mitigate those issues.
An advantage that a dog born with a malformed limb has, is that this pup may be a candidate for a prosthetic if the malformed limb is kept intact. An orthopedic vet experienced in prosthetics can tell you for certain. Check out the link to learn more. If they are a good candidate and you are willing to invest the time and money in a prosthesis, the result is life changing. I’m so glad to read you are giving this a lot of thought.
Our e-book, Loving Life On Three Legs , can also give you a ton of insight on life for Tripawds, such as fitness, nutrition, aging, etc.
Let us know if this pup gets to come home with you, keep in touch.
Yes, I will update when we decide. My friend is flying here June 8 with our puppy, so there is a lot to consider. My friend who adopted the mom dog could also end up keeping her, and he is not expecting us to make any decisions right away. It is potentially a lot to take on. Our previous dog Molly died last May, and she was a rescue dog with a lot of issues that made her a high needs dog, just not in a physical capacity. So for our next dog, we were intending to get a puppy where we knew the whole history and, truthfully, was easier. And here we are thinking about adopting a three legged dog 🙂
I don’t know if this will help, but meet Ivra
Ivra is a Tripawd due to amputation but she has been like this since very early puppyhood, we picked her up as a rescue where she ended up after living rough for a few weeks, at this point she was about a year and a half and had already been a tripawd for a good while, she was fully healed and used to her situation. We can’t be sure but we think she must have lost the paw in an accident at a very early age, or her paw was malformed and was amputated. But I digress.
What I wanted to do was hopefully reassure you. Ivra is now around 9 years of age and has while living with us, gone on hikes, road trips, scent training courses and been training competition level advanced obedience. She has been the scourge of squirrels, cats and fish as well as the official ratcatcher in the house. Many are the times I have had to either stop her from climbing trees or had to fetch her down from a perch she really had no business being able to reach in the first place. Yes she has given me multiple heart-attacks when she looks like she might have overdone it and we have a programme of exercise, nutrition, and care in place to proactively manage that she is now getting older and her joints are under more stress than the average dog, but nothing outlandish that a dog with 4 paws and a perfectly know lineage might not need as they get older as well 🙂
I will say this, Ivra’s stamina is not the same as a “normal” dog, especially not now as she is getting older, but unless you are looking for a dog that will run a marathon with you, a three-legged companion will not hamper your lifestyle at all Also missing a front leg means the cuddles are especially snuggly!
Hope this helps,
Thanks everyone! And yes, we are officially adopting our girl, Stevie 🙂
You can see her left paw/leg is essentially unusable. She will be visiting a vet in the next week or so with her 7 siblings for their first shots and my friends will get an opinion as to whether her leg can stay, as-is. They don’t know if it is innervated, as it is very floppy. She is getting around great on three legs though!
Awww what a sweetie! And wow with that “chicken wing” leg she looks like a terrific candidate for a prosthetic limb. Check out our OrthoPets videos about prosthetics, I would definitely talk to an orthopedic surgeon before making the amputation decision. For the right dog, prosthetics are life changing.
So, interestingly, my husband is a mechanical engineer and designs 3D printed items sometimes. We have come across some plans and models of a 3D printed prosthetic for dogs – the advantage being you can print new ones as the puppy grows and the expense is lower. We don’t really know yet if her leg/shoulder are strong enough, the leg is pretty floppy, but it might be a possibility!
I think it’s super cool your hubby can do that kind of thing! But I just wanted to give you a head’s up about DIY prosthetics for dogs. Orthopedic vets have told us they can do more harm than good. Please check out this OrthoPets article that talks about that subject.
22 February 2013
CONGRATULATIONS ADORAVLE STEVIE!!!! YOU JUST WON THE PUPPY LOTTERY!!
So excited to follow uou kn sll rhe adventures you have with your loving hoomans! And we must have lots of pictures of your adorable self!
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!
How is adorable Stevie doing? Is she all adjusted to her new pack?
I forgot to tell you that we had a member named Steve the Pretty Tripawd Kitty, and she was also a girl!
Hope things are going great!
So Stevie just arrived two days ago! Her sister left our house yesterday so this is the first day at home with us and our two cats. So far so good! I think we may need to get some rugs for our slippery kitchen tiles though. She is getting around really well, but she does seem to faceplant a lot when she gets going too fast. We are still adjusting!
25 April 2007