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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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Climbing Stairs?
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Forum Posts: 11
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15 January 2010 - 9:31 am
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My dog Peggy was born with three legs - she is missing a front leg.  When we first brought her home she would run up the stairs, which was quite a sight since she was only 8 weeks old and barely 3 lbs.  She only went up for about 2 days, she must have fallen and gotten frustrated.  She's now 5 months old and 8 lbs.  She makes me carry her up every single time.  I'm wondering if it's a developmental thing and she'll do it eventually, or if I'll be stuck carrying her up forever.  She has two big brothers and she sees them run up and down all the time.  She's also not jumping on the furniture, but she's recently started jumping off of it so at least that is progress.  My stairs are wood. She can climb from the second to top stair onto the carpet on the 2nd floor, and she can sometimes do the stair before it.   She also refused to go up on carpeted stairs at my parent's house so it's not just the texture.  She'll go up the 2 stairs in the backyard to get outside no problem.  Just wondering if any of you have similar problems. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 January 2010 - 11:49 am
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Hi Peggy and Shaylih!

What kind of pup is Peggy? We'd love to see a photo!

Stairs can be scary to small dogs, but it sounds like maybe Peggy has just gotten used to expecting you to carry her? I know that's easy to do because of her size, but it sounds like some focused training on that issue might be useful.

When we brought home Wyatt Ray, he wouldn't go up stairs. Mind you, he's a big boy. He had no problems jumping over things or jumping up onto the backyard deck, but something about stairs really freaked him out. It took lots of treats and enthusiasm to get him to go up, but he finally got the hang of it. Now we can't stop him!

Here is some great advice we got from our pawesome friend Sarah Wilson's dog training community, My Smart Puppy, when we were trying to figure out how to help Wyatt. Hope this helps!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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krun15
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15 January 2010 - 12:26 pm
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Hello,

Sounds like you have a small pup- what kind?

My Maggie is a small pug, about 16.5 lbs now, and a rear amp.  She has trouble going up stairs and getting up on the furniture.  I have a step up to the couch that my other pug uses but Mag won't.  Right after her surgery she would do several stairs, or even get up on the couch using the step- but she just baerly made it.  I think she wiped out a few times too because eventually she would not try to do the stairs. She can get up a stair or two into the house, and she goes up curbs.  But she is so short that the curbs and stairs are at chin level- so I think that is what makes it hard for her.  I live in a one story house, but my Dad has a split level and the dogs spend a lot of time with him.

I think the limiting factor for going up stairs, especially for a dog missing a front leg, is how tall they are.  Depending on Peggy's height she should be able to go up.  She could probably go down too- but dogs take 60% of their weight on their front legs so I would monitor that.  Maybe someone with a front amp dog will post with their experience.

Another consideration for you since you are not also dealing with cancer is the long term health of Peggy.  I am less inclined to let Maggie go down stairs now on her own or jump off furniture, which she will do, because she is almost 11.  She has made it longer than anyone expected so now I am thinking about joint wear and tear.  I do give her joint supplements to help her body cope.

You should post some pictures of Peggy when you have a chance, we like pictures!

Karen and the pug girls

Las Vegas, Nevada
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15 January 2010 - 12:46 pm
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Comet would have me carry her too if I let her all the time.

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.

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15 January 2010 - 1:53 pm
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Peggy is a coton de tulear.  Here she is with her brothers.  The smaller one is her real half brother and the super fluffy one thinks he's her dad.  He never stops cleaning her!

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and here is a closeup of her sweet little face

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I'll definitely try some of the tips since this weekend with her.  Her big brothers are getting groomed tomorrow, so we'll have some time with her by herself.  Treat training her on the stairs with her big brothers around would be a disaster!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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15 January 2010 - 2:05 pm
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OH my!  They don't get any cuter than that! 

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.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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15 January 2010 - 4:10 pm
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Wow, Comet can motivate!

Maybe Peggy is afraid her brothers will cause her to fall running up the stairs?  I have to be really careful and make sure Duke givea Trouble plenty of room getting out the door, for example.

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.

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15 January 2010 - 4:28 pm
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Personally I think if you don't mind carrying her I would continue to do so.  Steps put a lot of strain on the joints.  If it hard to always carry her that is a different matter.  With her brothers out of the house I would use treats on each step as a motivator and lots of praise and encouragement.

Good luck with it.

Debra  & Angel Emily

Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.

krun15
9
15 January 2010 - 4:32 pm
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Oh wow- see why we like pictures- they are CUTE.

That last post reminds me that Maggie's little sister accidentally pushed her down the stairs at my dad's house, the story is in her blog.  And Mag does tend to sit down when there are a lot of legs moving around her- dogs or people.  Maybe Peggy is a bit skittish in a crowd of legs.

Another thing Maggie trained my dad to do is pick her up even for a step or two.  I did the treat training with Maggie, and I knew she could do the couple of stairs up to the door, but she would get stubborn.  We had a couple of stand offs where she would sit outside for 20 min or more waiting for me to come get her.  She got the idea eventually.  Now if she won't come up the step I help her by supporting her back end, I DON'T pick her up.

I am still trying to train my dad not to always pick her up- but what do you do with a grandpa?Laugh

Traction is also big for Maggie.  My deck is timber-teck, a syntheic wood material that can be slippery.  So I have mats down on the stairs for her.  She will only come up the stairs where the mats are located.  I also trim the fir around her pads and toes so she gets better traction all over.

Good luck with training-

Karen and the pug girls

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15 January 2010 - 8:15 pm
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They are all so cute! We have a good friend with a Coton, and he has the sweetest disposition - I was sitting here thinking to myself that if he wanted me to carry him up and down the stairs all day I probably would!
Holly is a rear amp, and is bigger than Peggy (a Wheaten Terrier - about 30 pounds). Since her surgery she will go up and down the carpeted stairs but still won't do the wooden stairs. I haven't pushed it because I don't want her to slip and fall, and she's little enough for me to carry her pretty easily. I like the suggestion of trying to tempt her with treats - if anything would work that seems like it will!
Good luck, and please keep us posted!
Holly and Holly's mom

Holly joined the world of tripawds on 12/29/2009. She has a big little sister, Zuzu, who idolizes Holly and tries to make all of her toys into tripawds in Holly's honor. And she's enjoying life one hop at a time!

http://anyemery.....ipawds.com

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 January 2010 - 8:43 pm
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Peggy is seriously adorable! Thanks for the pics.

I also heard that smearing peanut butter on the wall might help. Messy, but might work?!

Good luck. We'd love to hear what's successful for the little gal!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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16 January 2010 - 9:13 am
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I've been trying the stairs on and off all morning while her big brothers are away.  I think she's physically too little.  She was trying but she kept using her nub.  She has part of her right leg about to the elbow and I didn't want her to hurt it or break the callus.  Carrying her isn't too much of an issue, especially since she'll only be about 12 lbs full grown.  We'll try again when she gets a little bigger.  

She's getting spayed this week so it's probably not the best idea to teach her to go up and down the stairs when I won't want her doing that while she's recovering.  I just thought I'd give it a shot since this is a rare opportunity to only have one dog.  

I don't think she's scared of all the legs running up and down the stairs, she's a beast when it comes to her brothers.  She beats them up nonstop.  If anything - she'd try to trip them!  Here she is pouncing Guy.

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The Rainbow Bridge



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16 January 2010 - 11:10 am
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You know her better than anyone else, you definitely don't want to scare her away from it or injure the little gal. Try doing it just a minute or two each day, I'll bet eventually she will get it!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Michael McD
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9 February 2021 - 5:51 pm
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Hello! I am a new owner of a tripawd! Just adopted him, he’s a good boy and has a lot of energy. He’s a 2 year old German Shepard lab mix, good shape, and good health. He is missing his front left leg. It’s apparently been like that ever since he was found abandoned and despite it he moves around very well. However, I am concerned because he loves to go outside. I take him on about 5-6 small 5-10 minute walks a day, and my apartment complex has a set of stairs (only 3 stairs) with no ramp. It’s the only way to get to my room. He seems to be doing fine but occasionally looks hesitant to climb them. I’m wondering if making him frequently climb the small set of steps is bad for him. I don’t want him getting injured or increasing his chance of arthritis! Thanks for any input. 

Here and Now


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9 February 2021 - 7:10 pm
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Welcome! Please consider registering, your posts will not require moderation.

This Tripawds gear blog post has some helpful trips you may try:

Three Tripawd Tips for Pet Steps and Ramp Training Success

All the shorter walks are great! but walks alone will not build strength and develop proprioception and confidence. Check out these starter exercises , or consider the Canine Rehab on Demand program. The Maggie Moo Fund can also reimburse for a consultation with a CCRT or CCRP .

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