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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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Member Since:
27 June 2010
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27 June 2010 - 5:52 pm
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My poor 7mth old Aussie Shepherd had a tree fall on her 2 weeks ago tomorrow.  The initial concern was the fractures to her skull and the risk of odeoma, brain damage or possible death.  She showed great signs of recovery on the first day, so they thought she'd be fine.  The next morning she refused to stand on one of her back legs, so an additional x-ray showed 3 fractures in her femur.  They tried to pin the leg, but a few days later the pin had migrated out and more fractures caused lower down in her leg, so we were given no option but to amputate.  It has only been 4 days since her amputation and I had no idea what to expect from my bundle of energy who now only has 3 legs.

We picked her up from the vets and to our utter amazement, she was up and walking.  We were thinking that we would be coming home with a dog that would take weeks, if not months to learn to walk again, but instead we are struggling to restrict her activity until her wounds (including her head wounds) heal.  This is when I started searching for information on 3 legged dogs and I found your website.  As we still don't really know what we will and won't be able to do with our little girl, it is inspirational to hear everyone's stories and know that we will have a perfectly able dog.

Unfortunately, I found this website a couple of years too late for my old Shepherd x Kelpie, who had a tumour in his shoulder and we were given the option of amputating or just letting nature take it's course.  We decided that months of rehab and learning to walk again would be unfair and when we thought the cancer had gotten the better of him, we had him put to sleep.  If I had have known that recovery was this quick and that he wouldn't need to learn to walk on three legs (he was already limping on it anyhow), then my decision would have been a whole lot different.

So I thank you, for creating this space and making people a little more aware of what life can be like for our 3 legged friends.

Kirkland, WA
Member Since:
2 June 2009
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27 June 2010 - 10:33 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds!  Sorry about the accident, but isn't it so amazing how fast they seem to recover?!?  It's like they never needed that 4th leg in the first place!  VERY wise of you to restrict her dog is a front-leg amputee and he had a compression bandage.  He was too active and broke some capillaries and the bandage pushed all the blood to his abdomen which caused 2 more night in the hospital 🙁  And as far as what you will and won't be able to do, I'd like to let you know that Jack can do EVERYTHING he could before surgery (except shake with both paws...for obvious reasons).  He can run faster than ever, jump higher than ever, he explores inside bushes, jumps up on people, and will even stick his toes in the water when before he wouldn't even get near the shore.  We're here for any advice you may need, and again, welcome to the bunch!


<3 Laura and Captain Jack

Minneapolis, MN
Member Since:
23 May 2010
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27 June 2010 - 10:43 pm
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Welcome to the community! Since your dog is so young, her recovery should be a piece of cake. She'll not remember that she was any other way, and your "can do" attitude will let her know that nothing is beyond her limits! As far as limiting her activities, will she take her cues from you? With Daisy (who was going up and down stairs on day 3 post amp), if I lay down to rest, so would she. That type of thing had to be my priority during the early days for her sake as well as my own.


Keep in touch! big-blink

Daisy, 12 years young, had left forelimb amp on 5/19/2010 due to osteosarcoma. She left her body behind and joined the other spirit tripawds on 7/16/2010.
So grateful for each day with her!
Lexi (Daisy's momma)

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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28 June 2010 - 3:40 am
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Welcome to our little group.  I'm glad you've found good info here.  It grows daily and the support you get here is outstanding.  I agree with the others, the age of your pup should make recovery and the adjustment period pretty easy unless there are unforeseen complications.

Keep us posted on her progress and give a shout if you have any questions someone may be able to help with.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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28 June 2010 - 12:38 pm
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danni612 said:

I thank you, for creating this space and making people a little more aware of what life can be like for our 3 legged friends.


No, thank you! It is the stories from members like you that make this site everything it has become. Thanks for joining and sharing your experiences.

If you have not already, be sure to bookmark Jerry's Required Reading List for lots of amputation recovery tips and advice. You'll also find lots of helpful product recommendations in the Tripawds Featured Blogs.

That incident with the tree must have been scary! For a related success story, check out Lincoln's blog with chronicles how he overcame brain cancer surgery and has now recovered from amputation.


Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
27 June 2010
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28 June 2010 - 11:05 pm
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Thank you for welcoming us with open arms.  It's amazing how badly 'I' took the prospect of having a 3 legged dog (I don't recall having seen a 3 legged dog in my entire life and I spent much of my adolesence around an obedience school and associated canine events), but there's a whole world of people out there who welcome these dogs into their homes and their hearts (many of you seem to have taken on your friends after their amputation or knowing that the amputation was on the cards - you are truly inspirational and human kind has a lot to learn from you!)  It has also made me decide that I will have Skye out and about as much as possible to help raise awareness of the potential of our 3 legged friends, so that others will see that it is a realistic option should they ever find themselves in a position where they need to make the decision.

I will definately look up those links that you suggested!

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