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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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Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
9 July 2019
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5 August 2019 - 1:05 pm
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Hi All!

My boyfriend and I have just adopted a 10-month old black lab named Phoenix from a pet rescue that found her injured in a rural Alabama shelter. She is a very sweet and snuggly little pup. We have a black lab already named Riley. She is very well-behaved and a great new big sister for Phoenix.

Phoenix was found with a left front left injury that resulted in muscle atrophy around the shoulder and she was dragging the leg. The vet at the rescue did an amazing amputation that has since healed beautifully. She adjusted to life on three legs very quickly and is full of puppy energy!

Phoenix also had a left eye injury when they found her. She has been on eye drops since a few days before we picked her up (~4 weeks) to help, but the vet said it is glaucoma and are recommending we have the eye removed. The pressure level in her eye was 46 and they said the normal for dogs should be 15-20, so i know my poor baby is in pain. She can still see a little bit out of the eye and the drops are helping to bring the pressure down, but it is slow progress. She absolutely hates the drops and it is a struggle every day to get them in 3 times a day. It took 4 of us to hold her down to get the eye pressure test at the vet, and she is only 36 pounds! 

Our options are eye removal or keeping her on those eye drops for the rest of her life to keep her pressure levels under control, or having the eye removed. I am hesitant to have the eye removed since she can still see a bit out of it, but those drops are a nightmare.

We had no experience with a tripawd before her and so far it is all going very well, but we also have no experience with a one-eyed dog (let alone a one-eyed, three-legged dog). Wondering if anyone has any tips/tricks/suggestions? Any issues with the amputation and eye removal potentially being on the same side?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


The Rainbow Bridge

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5 August 2019 - 2:23 pm
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Hi Katelyn, Phoenix, Riley and Dad! 

Sounds like you have a fun pack and things are otherwise going great. Yeah! When I started reading about what’s happening with Phoenix’s eye I immediately thought of Merry Myrtle. She is not a Tripawd but Sally has had very recent experience with what you are going through. See:


It’s 15 pages of discussion to go through so if you want to Private Message Sally directly (benny55) I know she would be glad to share her experience with you.

I also know we’ve had one-eyed Tripawds join us through the years, like One-Eyed Jack the Trikitty.

Animals always surprise us humans with their adaptability. I think we overthink things, and they just go on living life as always, with some minor adjustments. Try not to panic, I’ll bet Phoenix is going to blow you away with her resiliency!

Keep us posted.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 18229
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5 August 2019 - 3:30 pm
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Awww….what a lucky pack you have!!   I know Phoenix has won the Pupoy Lottery, that’s  for sure!!!

Glad Jerry gave you links to Merry Myrtle’s “glaucoma  journey” and I hope it helps.  

I can completely  ten million percent relate to not being able to get eye drops in a large dog who will not cooperate!!   No one would ever know how IMPOSSIBLE  it is unless you’ve experienced  it!!

Couple of suggestions.   First of all, have you taken Phoenix  to an actual Animal Eye Care Specialist?  I know they are somewhat of a “rare breed” and it may require  a bit of traveling  to find one.  Yoi wamt yo make sure there is no evidence that this involves the other eye also.  While my Merry Myrtle was first treated as a “scratch” in one eye, it quickly (seemingly) went to “glaucoma”.  Like you, it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to give her the drops as needed to keep the pressure down.

Anyway, she ended up being blind in both eyes due to glaucoma.   The Eye Specialist attributed  it more to predisposition pf rhe breed (Bull Mastiff).

Loke uour Phoenix, the eye pressure  resulted in pain that could not be controlled.

Do use a harness instead of a collar to avoid any extra pressure  in the head/neck area.  Murtle’s harness says :  Blind Rock Star on it😎

So do your research.  Try and get to a Specialist  if at all possible.  I opted for a procedure that stops the fluid build up.  I believe it’s  called:

    Intravitreal Gentamicin Injection 

Feel free to PM me and I’ll be glad to help in anyway I can and explain why I went that route as opposed to the other.  No right or wrong, okay?  Both procedures  stip rhe pain!!

Here’s a good link from an Eye Clinic Specialty  Clinic


Here are some  things you can do to help prepare her should she become blind in that eye, and, probably will never happen, but just in case she becomes  blind jn the other eye.  Use a clicker or hand clap as you guide her to the kitchen or to the bed, or to the outside, whatever.  As you go up and down steps with her, tap the step and say step.  Tap the water bowl and say water, etc.  You get the point.

And yes, Merry Myrtle is a four legger, but I doubt the adjustment would be any different for a three legger.  Can’t  remember the name, but I do know we had a senior tripawd who was blind and handled three just fine,  all thi gs considered 

Extra hugs 

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!

Forum Posts: 4
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14 January 2020 - 8:07 pm
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Hi all!

I apologize for not posting an update sooner, but would like to share an update on Phoenix’s journey.

We did end up having the left eye enucleation surgery in late August. The surgery went well and she is 100% healed now. There is very little difference in her lifestyle since having it, and she is very grateful we don’t have to give her eye drops anymore! There are a few things to note such as she always makes sure she is on the left side of me while going down the stairs so she can see me and knows where I’m at, and i have to make sure i throw her toys to the right side of her or she cant see where they went and gets very confused. The vet that did the procedure sewed the underlying tissue just underneath the eyelid together to prevent the skin from sinking into the eye socket, but when i brought her home she got a little too excited and ran headfirst into my shin just hours post-op. She bled from her left nostril for a few hours after that, and im pretty sure the impact broke the seal of the tissue because it sank in gradually as she healed. It is a purely aesthetic issue and doesn’t make me love her any less, but a little bit of a bummer for the vets hard work. Either way, she is living a pain-free and happy life with one eye and three legs!

Since we’ve had her we’ve invested in a few products that have made our lives infinitely better & i’d love to recommend them to others!

1.) Elevated food & water bowl. This has helped Phoenix so much!!  I found the one we use on sale at TJMaxx. Shes the messiest water drinker i’ve ever met but she loves not straining to eat & drink. She has a slow feeder in the food dish as she has some mild food aggression, but it was easily transferred to the elevated bowl. 

2.) Ruffwear WebMaster harness. I saw so many positive reviews on this and had to try for myself. WE LOVE THIS HARNESS. It has made everything so much easier from walks, to stairs, to controlling her around other dogs. She has a crazy crazy crazy amount of energy and absolutely loves to play with other dogs, and even jumps over our couch and runs across our endtables when she gets too excited (she’s a handful)! The handle on this harness is perfectly placed and makes it so easy to control & protect her when she’s active or out & about. I find myself recommending this harness to everybody!

3.) Ruffwear Polar Trex dog boots. These were not a cheap purchase but after awhile we talked ourselves into it as we get lots of snow & ice in winter and Phoenix loves, i mean LOVES going out in the snow. These can be a hassle to put on but I love that they extend a little further past the boot to protect a little more of her feet/legs. Luckily she doesn’t mind any clothes or booties so she lets me take them on/off pretty easily. Riley, however HATES boots and clothes and her boot dance is quite a sight!

4.) Musher’s Secret wax. I use this on both dog’s paws and can notice an immediate difference. We use it about twice a week, sometimes more when its snowy or theres lots of salt out. I also use this on their hot spots and it seems to help soothe them. 

5.) Apple Cider Vinegar/Water mixture. Phoenix is prone to mild belly rashes from time to time, not quite sure why. When she gets them i make a mixture 50-50 water & apple cider vinegar. I dab it on with a cotton ball twice per day, rinse, and dry, and it usually clears them up in a few days. 

I hope this information can help someone out there as much as you guys have helped me!

(p.s. still trying to figure out how to post pictures on here to show you the progress! sorry for the delay!)smiley10

The Rainbow Bridge

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15 January 2020 - 11:24 am
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Wowee what a GREAT PUPDATE! smiley_clapsmiley10 Phoenix you are amazing!

You guys went through a lot together and it’s wonderful to know that life is good. I’m sure the bleeding nostril right after surgery must have been so scary. I would have had a meltdown! Glad that the eye is all healed up. Function over form is what matters in the end! 

I’m so glad you decided to share her progress with us. I would love to include this in a blog post if you’re OK with that. Let me know! And do post some photos. Here are instructions for adding images . In short, this is how it works:

  1. Upload pics to a photo sharing site like or your own Tripawds blog
  2. Right click and copy the Image URL
  3. Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself if possible) in your post. It should automatically appear.

If you’d still like help with photos just Private Message me anytime. And give that rock star Tripawd of yours some extra love from us!

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Forum Posts: 4
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15 January 2020 - 9:54 pm
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The bleeding from the nose was definitely worrisome, but the vet that performed the surgery was awesome and responded to my email about it right away with instructions and things to look out for. We were very lucky that the rescue we got Phoenix from covered all costs and medication for both surgeries, so it was a huge stress reliever for us. We emailed them right away with any concerns and pictures and they would always respond to us within a few hours. That was the most helpful thing that got us through the first few days after both surgeries.

Also, I think I figured out the photos! I started a basic tripawds blog mainly for photos. It needs to be approved but the header picture shows now.

Here is the link:


Jerry, of course you can use any of the above information in a blog! Hopefully the information will help someone else going through something similar.

Here and Now

Forum Posts: 12081
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16 January 2020 - 9:52 am
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katelyn said
I started a basic tripawds blog mainly for photos…

Your blog post has been approved, and future posts and pages will not require moderation.

Now that you’re uploading photos to your Media Library, you can easily embed them here in the forums by pasting the image URL in your post. In most browsers, copying the photo and pasting it here will also work…nice harness! smiley16

Don’t miss the Tripawds Gear blog for many other helpful products to help keep this community online.

Image Enlarger


Forum Posts: 18229
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17 January 2020 - 9:23 pm
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Phoenix is adorable!  She wears her trioawds scarf like a fashion model!

Sorry about all the hurdles with the eye, nose, etc.  So glad to hear he’s all recovered.   Phoenix is quite the tuff Warrior!

Thanks for sharing  all the tips that have helped in this tripawd journey.   The first hand experience  of members is invaluable.  The apple cider “treatment” for a rash was quite interesting 

Gonna go check out her blog now.


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!

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