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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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Can Tripawds swim? I have a dog with only 1 front leg
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Member Since:
6 February 2012
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15 February 2012 - 11:42 am
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I am planning some warm weather activities for my new Tripawd. Can your dog swim? I would love to take him to pools, rivers, canoe trips...I will have a Ruffwear Harness for him and a dog life vest as a safety precaution. But I can't comprehend how he will be able to swim with only 1 front leg. Boo is one year old and a very strong American Pitt Bull mix, so assuming he likes the water, it will be so much fun to have him do summer weather outdoor activities.

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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15 February 2012 - 12:27 pm
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Can't answer that as Daisy just likes to wade in to cool her paws.  I sure wish she would swim!  I have read about other tripawds on here that are able to swim.  Hope Boo's recovery is still going well.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

knoxville, tn
Member Since:
12 February 2010
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15 February 2012 - 12:32 pm
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they sure can.  as we remember, jerry loved to swim (he was front amp), as did jake, tate, fortis, rusty, mackenzie..  and many others.  gayle was not 'keen' on the pool, but she didn't swim before her amp either...  if you do a search on the forums, there are many videos and stories about swimmers (rusty has a video shot underwater, showing how his legs work during the swim, it's great).  a ruffwear life vest is a good idea, just for safety.


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


Edmond, Oklahoma
Member Since:
7 January 2011
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15 February 2012 - 12:35 pm
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Yes-- front leg amputees CAN swim. We have a pool, and Scout loved to get in and do a lap or two after his nightly walk.  He did tire easily while swimming, so I wouldn't recommend long sessions.  He also enjoyed going to the lake, but that was more wading than swimming. Good idea on the life jacket; we never used one, but most of Scout's swimming was in the pool.  Our vet actually encouraged swimming as it is excellent therapy; she just told us to keep the chlorine levels really low (which we do anyway).

Scout: January 31, 2002 to November 7, 2011

Scout's diagnosis was "poorly differentiated sarcoma"; amputation 1/11/2011.  Scout enjoyed 9 fantastic years on 4 legs and 9 glorious months on 3 legs.  If love alone could have saved you…

New Zealand
Member Since:
6 November 2011
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15 February 2012 - 12:41 pm
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The first time we took Kayla (also a front amp) swimming it was ummm interesting when her other front paw would have stroked her head dipped underwater slightly, you couldn't help but laugh watching her. she now has the hang of it but we will definately get a float coat to help her out once she has finished growing so yeah long story but yes Tripawds can swim. There as some cool videos of Jerry swimming somewhere on the site too.

Good luck

Sarah and Kayla

Peoria, IL
Member Since:
7 November 2010
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15 February 2012 - 12:59 pm
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Gee, yes, they can swim! We purchased a very nice vest with a handle for Sammy, who was a front-leg amputee. When we arrived at the beach, after carrying the darn thing a mile to the beach, someone threw a ball into the water and away Sammy went. We thought he might swim in circles, but he swam like a champ!

Sammy also swam after the ball every day for four months at the lake in Michigan. We made him stop periodically to rest, and he hated that. To spite us, I suspect, he started digging in the sand with one front paw — which scared the heck out of me. He looked like a steam shove!

I came to believe there was nothing a tripawd couldn't figure out a way to do if they wanted to bad enough. They are amazing!

Beth and Spirit Smilin' Sammy

Smilin' Sammy, March 16, 2004 – Dec. 5, 2011
Golden retriever, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2010 — right front leg amputated November 2010. He fought valiantly to stay with us; but a second diagnosis of osteosarcoma, this time in his left front leg, was more than our golden warrior could overcome. He loved his pack — and everyone else he met.

We loved him even more.
Thanks for the pennies, Sammy. They helped.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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15 February 2012 - 3:14 pm
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gemstone272 said:

I can't comprehend how he will be able to swim with only 1 front leg...

We thought that too, but you will likely be as surprised as we were when we saw Jerry swim!

Be sure to check out the other amazing three legged swimmers in Jerry's Tripawd Dogs Swimming playlist from the Tripawds YouTube Channel...

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
13 June 2011
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15 February 2012 - 7:19 pm
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YES!! Bo always loved to swim and that didn't change when he became a Tripawd. We made him wear a float coat , although he didn't think he needed one. 😉

I loved watching Tripawd Bo swim. He didn't limp, hop, and wasn't slowed down a bit in the water. Good luck with Boo...I'm sure he will be great!!!

Monkeybutt-Bunny Vampire
15 February 2012 - 10:37 pm
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My tripawd front leg sister could swim!  Mommy and Daddy made her swim for exercise!  She even went to rehab and had to swim in a tank! 

Here's me watching her swim.  I'm so cute, I figured you'd rather look at me! 


(daddy and I have the same legs!)



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Monkeybutt-Bunny Vampire
15 February 2012 - 10:39 pm
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Mommy said I have to post this pic because seeing only me isn't very helpful.


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Calgary, AB
Member Since:
29 January 2010
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16 February 2012 - 11:01 am
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As everyone has already said ... ABSOLUTELY they can swim. Tai was a front amputee and she swam just fine. I did get her a float coat but she wasn't keen on it so I just watched her carefully instead. Tripawds are an amazing bunch of dawgs, they find new ways to do everything. Even with only 1 front leg she could not only swim but dig voracious holes and gnaw any bone like a champ. Stand back and prepare to be amazed.
Laura and Angel Tai

Tai – 9 yr old lab. Diagnosed Osteosarcoma Dec 18/09. Front right leg amputated Dec 21/09. Started chemo Jan 7/10. Lung mets discovered Sept 16/10. Valiant to the end on Oct 26/10 when cancer reappeared in a leg and we made the decision to set her free. Forever in my heart where not even cancer can take her from me.

Member Since:
6 February 2012
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16 February 2012 - 8:25 pm
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Thanks so much everyone. Can I just say WOW. It appears I need not worry!. Boy can they swim. I love the stories of your dogs and the videos were a fantastic learning aide. And it was so interesting to see the video someone filmed from underwater to show how the mechanics work. Thanks for mentioning Youtube. I am so excited to test this boy out! 

Member Since:
16 May 2009
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17 February 2012 - 7:36 am
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Yes - Sid can swim!  He has regular hydrotherapy sessions in a purpose built pool to help keep his back and shoulders loose and flexible. Being a rear-leg tripod (and a big dog) he has to twist his back at each step to get that hind leg underneath his body, so he can cramp up.


We started him in a float jacket with a 'necklace' (a u-shaped flotation collar to help keep his head out of the water) but now he swims in just a harness and he is a strong swimmer!  His stump moves too, when he swims, which I reckon must help to strengthen his back on the weak side. 


He loves it.  When he's lifted into the water he gives a few deep groans as he settles in, almost as if he were saying 'Aaaaaaaah, that's lovely!'.  Then he's off, steaming around the pool, changing direction, and occasionally throwing himself onto the hydrotherapist's lap for a rest.  He nearly knocked her over the first time he did that! laughing


I have some video of him swimming.  There's one here - this was a new hydrotherapist and she was a bit cautious about letting him swim on his own, so he was being a bit lazy. 


The black dog is my other greyhound Ranger who couldn't work out what his friend was doing in all that water.  I've tried him with hydrotherapy, but he just hangs (floating upright, with or without a flotation jacket) in the water and doesn't do anything - perfectly happy, but immobile.  whatever

Mesa, AZ
Member Since:
27 April 2009
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21 March 2012 - 11:02 am
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Chuy is missing his frt. left leg and also had to have FHO surgery on his left rear leg.  He went through a year of swim therapy to recover from the FHO surgery and did wonderfully!  You will be amazed at what a Tripawd can do, as they say, "I can do anything you can do,  BETTER!" 


Licks & Wags,

Chuy & Mom

Chuy, showing everyone that Tripawds do everything 3 times better than regular dogs!

Chuy's Short Stories

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