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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Amputation on Tuesday, 2/7 - still unable to walk without sling
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Member Since:
9 February 2012
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10 February 2012 - 7:38 am
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This is my first post on the tripaws website, but my Golden Emma recently had her back leg amputated on Tuesday. She is a bigger girl weighing 92 lbs before amputation. She has no previous problems with her hips or arthritis.

They have kept her at the animal hospital because she has been putting her other back leg out to the side instead of under her trying to compensate for the missing back leg. When she is in the sling she gets along great. We thought we would be able to take her home today but the vet thinks it would be better to keep her at the hospital over the weekend to make sure she doesn't fall and hurt her incision and keep on working with her. Someone mentioned they are trying to get more money but I seriously doubt that. This is a highly prestigious hospital and they have staff there 24 hours a day.

Everything I have read said their dogs came home 1,2, or 3 days after the surgery. My vet said he has never had a dog that could not walk on 3 legs but I am worried because I don't want to have to use the sling forever. I knew it might be something we would use during her recovery, perhaps until her stitches are removed.

I am discouraged but one hand I think she might do better at home, but then what if she falls and hurts herself?

knoxville, tn
Member Since:
12 February 2010
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10 February 2012 - 9:13 am
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welcome, sorry you are here, but it's a great place to be when you find yourself with a tripawd pup.  every pup is different, so there's really no normal....  it does take some time to get that 'single' leg to find it's new best position.  gayle was a front amp, and it was several weeks until i saw that 'centered' stance that she maintained going forward.  also, your pup is under heavy pain medication for the surgery, and that will definitely wack up a pup.  tramadol, especially, seems to throw many of them off.  if the vet is 24/7 and they want to keep emma a few more days, then i'd consider it.  have you gone to see her yet??  maybe seeing you would get her motivated to stand. 

we used the opened cloth grocery sack for a sling, and it worked very well for the several days we needed it. 


good luck, and let us know how emma progresses.


charon & spirit gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends


Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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10 February 2012 - 9:36 am
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Emma what a sweet face!  I'm sorry you're having a time of it trying to figure out your balance.  Daisy is a front amp.  Hopefully Emma is just loopy from the pain meds.  She is still in the very early stages of recovery from major surgery.

Fingers and paws crossed that Emma is up and about on her own in no time!  Keep us updated.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

Member Since:
9 February 2012
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10 February 2012 - 9:46 am
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Yes, We are able to visit her every day. Today I am going after lunch and bring her a rotisserie chicken from Publix to help assist in getting her appetite back. I know she is no longer on IV medicine but I am sure they are giving a bunch of oral medications to help with the pain. There was a huge improvement of when we saw her on Wednesday and Thursday with her demeanor. Thank you for the reassurance that nothing is wrong with our sweet girl. We are anxious to get her home.

Rock Hill, SC
Member Since:
28 November 2011
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10 February 2012 - 9:47 am
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Welcome!  Sorry Emma is progressing slower than expected, but try not to worry too much yet.  I totally agree with Charon that seeing you might make her more motivated to move around.  A visit might be just what she needs!

By the way, we recently met a new amputee mom here in our town (that we, of course, referred to this site).  Embarrassingly, I can't remember her name and checked your profile to see if it was her that signed-up.  I saw that you are from Greenville, SC, which is my hometown!  Nice to see you here.  It is a GREAT group of people and they will be immeasurably helpful to you in the coming weeks!

Good luck!


Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...

Dayton, OH
Member Since:
9 January 2011
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10 February 2012 - 11:25 am
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Hello Emma and family - We've been away from the site for awhile so I'm doing some catching up and read your post today.  I, like others, are happy that you found the site even though the circumstances that brought you here are difficult.

I didn't find the site until some time after Sylvia's diagnosis and amputation (also a rear leg), so didn't have any sense of what we "should or shouldn't" expect.  Being a nervous new tripawd pawrent, I didn't even have any expectation that she would get around O.K. on three legs for quite some time.  Hence, we used her sling for at least a couple of weeks, as I recall - maybe longer.  Granted, we have steps from the house to the yard, and last winter was very icy.  But I guess my point is that she ultimately adjusted just fine, and even got to the point where she could outrun us.  I guess in my blissful ignorance I expected she'd need some help for longer than she really did, and I never felt like hurrying to get rid of the sling.

The pain meds are definitely gonna have an effect.  And it is a big adjustment that some dogs make really quickly and others take more time with. 

Sylvie's surgeon gave us a sling, and then a friend loaned us one that he'd used on his Dobe when she'd had an amp. ( . . . really nice, heavy-duty with sheerling).  It was a great feeling when we could stop using it and return it!!

We're sending positive thoughts your way for Emma (and you!) to enjoy good, consistent progress in recovery!

- Karen and Sweet Angel Sylvie  

Sweet Silly Sylvie, the Old English Sheepdog

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma 11/04/2010 at almost 7 years of age * Left hind leg amputated 11/09/2010 * Chemo on 12/10, 12/17, 01/10, 01/31

Sweet Sylvie's earthly journey ended on Nov. 3, 2011, one day short of a year since her diagnosis and 6 days short of her one-year ampuversary.  Her family celebrates her life as a sheepdog – ever the puppy, ever silly, ever sweet – and are grateful for our 7 years together.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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10 February 2012 - 12:32 pm
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Hi Emma,

I just answered your post in Treatment and Recovery, so please read it here.

In the future you don't need to post the same topic twice in our Forums, we'll be sure to see it in just one place.

Again, welcome.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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10 February 2012 - 1:16 pm
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To be honest, I think she would be ok if you brought her home. Maybe you'll be able to better judge how she's doing after today's visit. I'm guessing some rotisserie chicken will definitely be a hit with her!

Our pup was quite young and thin and a front leg amp, so she was up and walking on her own fairly quickly, although we did use the sling on the stairs and getting in and out of hte car for several days, but I've noticed others with back leg amps sometimes seem to take a bit longer to get their balance. She is still really only a few days out from pretty major surgery, so it sounds like she's doing ok. The first two weeks are pretty rough, but once she's got the stitches out and is off the meds you will most likely see a great improvement in her!

Really, you don't want her walking much at this point anyway, other than to go outside to potty, so you could assist her outside with the sling so she doesn't hurt herself and then help her back in. I hope the vet thinks you can spring her. It would be nice to have her home!

Keep us posted and welcome to the club. Once she is fully recovered, she'll amaze you and you'll see how awesome it is to be a tripawd pawrent!

Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

10 February 2012 - 1:55 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds! I think it is very normal for Emma to not be able to walk on her own quite yet. She will have to learn a new way of balancing herself and build up her muscles to be strong enough to hold her self up. My Dog Valentina had a hard time at first. She was quite big because she was a Great Dane and 150lbs. The vet kept her a couple of extra days also. She was there about 5 days I think. They said that she was having trouble learning to balance too and they wanted to make sure she could walk a little better before I took her home because of her being so big. My husband is gone alot and I had to be the one to take her outside and I weigh 110 lbs so we really needed to make sure she could walk good enough for me to be able to handle her on my own. Even after I brought her home she still needed my assistance with a sheet that I used as a sling for about another week. Being on the pain meds does make them weak and tired and they are somewhat disoriented at first too. Each day will get a bit better. She will likely sleep, sleep, sleep and sleep some more. Valentina slept so much and when it was time for her to go outside I really had to coax her to get up. She really didn't want to. Valentina was a front amp and I have heard that the rear amps can take a little longer to get adjusted. I think everything will work out just fine. It just takes time. It's still very early. There are some stories on here about Dogs that are up and running around right away but it wasn't like that for me so don't think that something is wrong if Emma takes her time to get used to things. Praying for Emma"s full recovery so the two of you can get back to enjoying each other.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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10 February 2012 - 2:43 pm
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Welcome Emma!  What a pretty face you have!   I hope you get the walking resolved!  I'm sure you will!

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

Member Since:
18 January 2012
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10 February 2012 - 8:06 pm
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Welcome Emma and humans!   Baby (my 155lb mastiff) stayed in the hospital for almost 5 days.  She just wasn't interested in doing anything for the vet or techs that were working with her.  They kept her because they thought she wasn't thriving if she didn't get up for them. They gave her lots of attention, but she only really responded when we took her home. When we got home and took her out to the front grass (trying to help with the sling, of course) she just sat down and looked at us.  When we let go, she trotted (hopped) off and did her own thing just fine.  Some dogs really prefer to do things themselves.  I have no idea if Emma will react that way... but it's possible.  If not, the rest and love you give her will let her find her strength and balance when she's ready.  We worry much more than our dogs do.  They just take it a moment at a time.  Chicken..yummm!

Wishing you all the best

Judy and Baby

Member Since:
14 December 2011
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12 February 2012 - 12:00 pm
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Emma- You are so cute!  Take your time, we all need to adjust at our own pace.  I agree, the meds are probably getting you more confused.  Lucy is a front amp, 75lbs at the time of surgery, and she didn't move too much the first couple of days at home either.  I think we both felt so much better at home.   Let us know on her progress!

Mary, Lucy's mom 

Lucy's front right leg was amputated 12/19/11. Thankfully there was no tumor, but her nerves were found to be degenerative.  Life as a tripawd is Lucy's new adventure!!

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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12 February 2012 - 2:45 pm
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Interesting - I posted to this earlier. Wonder where it went?

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.

Leicester, NY
Member Since:
11 February 2011
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12 February 2012 - 4:31 pm
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Welcome Emma and family! Hopefully she will be up and around after a few days at home.

Spirit Samson was Spirit Tripawd Daisys four legged "brother" and ruled as the self proclaimed head of the Monkeybutt Federations East Coast Division. Lady Chunky Monkey stayed from Oct 2011 and left for the bridge in Apr 2012. Miss Perdy is left and has some big pawprints to fill.
Do you have what it takes to be a Monkeybutt? Find out more at the Monkeybutt Federation

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