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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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Newborn golden retriever pup born with 3/4 of a front leg
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
9 May 2020
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9 May 2020 - 4:07 pm
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Hi everyone.  This is my first time posting.  I had a litter of golden retriever puppies born 3 days ago.  One of the little puppies was born with three quarters of a front leg which means that this leg is shorter than the other front leg.

After she was born I took her to the vet to be put to sleep and the vet looked at her and said that she was a big strong, lively puppy and to give her a chance of life.  But I am worried about what the future holds for her.  In my nearly 30 years of breeding this has been the first time that there have been any deformities.  There were 12 puppies in the litter.

Does anyone know if this puppy will be able to learn to walk?

What can I do to protect her deformed leg when she is trying to learn to walk?

What is the minimum age that this puppy could have her deformed front leg amputated?

Im really nervous about all this and I want to be able to help this puppy all I can.  Im looking forward to hearing people’s advice.  Any help and advice will be much appreciated.

Many thanks

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28747
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25 April 2007
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9 May 2020 - 8:34 pm
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Hello Chance and puppy, thanks for joining us. I’m so glad you posted and even gladder that your vet is so awesome. 

It makes sense that you are concerned since you’ve never been around a Tripawd before, but prepare to be amazed…

Yes, the puppy will be able to learn to walk. A puppy born with a limb difference has every chance in the world at living a great life. I’m so glad you want to help her do that. Will you be keeping her?

First, don’t expect to amputate that leg just yet, until you speak with an orthopedic vet surgeon who can evaluate her. She sounds like an ideal candidate for a prosthetic limb. Even if it hasn’t occurred to you to look into one for her, it would pay to just get the information so you know what her options are. If you are willing to invest the time and money into prosthetics , it can mean all the difference in her mobility and quality of life over time. As a prosthesis designer once told us, dogs do great on three legs, but they do better on four. So, honestly, it would be a good idea to have her evaluated. I can pass along some surgeon referrals if you’d like, just let me know what city you live in (You can Direct Message me if you’d like).

As for learning to walk. A young Tripawd will have some coordination issues at first, because she didn’t get to develop normal motor skills that four-legged dogs do. So the best thing you can do for her is to get her to a rehabilitation therapist, who can show you how to help her get strong and stay injury free. Rehab therapy is so beneficial, that our Tripawds Foundation may even pay for your first rehab visit ! Just click on the link for more information.

I need to run now. But meanwhile I encourage you to check out our e-book, Loving Life On Three Legs , which has lots of advice about raising a young Tripawd dog. I’ll try to remember to come back here tomorrow and share some more links with you OK?

Thanks again for joining us. Welcome to the community!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 59
Member Since:
10 December 2019
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10 May 2020 - 8:33 pm
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Hi Chance,

I have a 13 year old kitty that I have had since she was born with the same condition.  Her paw on her back leg never formed correctly and so she was born a tripawd.  I worried that she would have problems, but she never did.  She is amazingly strong and gets along just fine.  We thought that we might need to amputate the leg at some point, but we never did.  You will be amazed at how well you sweet little pup will do.  I have a golden retriever, Indy, who is 9.  Goldens are amazing dogs!  Best of luck with your sweet pup!


17 November 2020 - 6:26 am
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I wonder what happened to your pup in the end? My daughter was born with a limb difference and we are looking at getting a golden retriever – one with a limb deformity would be fine by us 🙂

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28747
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17 November 2020 - 10:07 am
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Hi Fliss, great question. Bummer that @chance028 didn’t return to tell us! I can tell you that dogs who are born with a limb difference can enjoy great lives on three legs. The only thing is that as a pet parent of a Tripawd, it’s in the dog’s best interest for you to keep up with the dog’s needs like making sure the dog stays slim, gets appropriate exercise, and developing a relationship and regular check-ins with a canine rehab therapist who can educate you about the dog’s physical needs in order to avoid injury and arthritis as the dog ages. All these things can ensure the Tripawd puppy enjoys the best life possible, for as long as possible.

Here’s a story about Spree, a Tripawd puppy who passed away last year but enjoyed a long healthy life thanks to her mom’s amazing care!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Read my story here.

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