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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:
8 September 2012
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11 December 2012 - 2:39 pm
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I adopted Nolan back in September and he's just been a complete joy to have in our lives. He's about a year old Beagle/German Shepherd mix. That being said, he's a very active pup with a great sense for adventure, but unfortunately he's VERY clumsy. Whenever he runs and plays (especially with other dogs), he often trips and falls flat on his face or tumbles and flips over on his back. He also loves to run around our home and jump all over the place, up and down the stairs, all over the furniture. He's a puppy, what can he say? Anyway, I'm a worry wart and I'm afraid that he is going to seriously injure himself but I also don't want to make him stop playing because I know he would be miserable. Is there any way I can help him maintain balance or a step I should take to ensure his safety while he's playing?


P.S. I use DermaPaw and glucosamine to help with his paws and joints. But any other recommendations to help prevent arthritis and other future problems is greatly appreciated!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11 December 2012 - 7:19 pm
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Hello Nolan and family, welcome! Thanks for joining us, your future posts won't require moderation and your posts will appear instantly.

Well, it sounds to me like this could be partly an issue of him just being a puppy, and part of it could be that he's overdoing things a little, getting tired and then not having enough energy left. I'm not a vet, this is just a guess, so take it for what it's worth. As a Tripawd pawrent (you are pawesome for adopting him, by the way!), it's our responsibility to monitor their behavior to make sure they don't overdo things. So, when he's playing you'll need to make him take breaks by putting him on leash and requiring a rest period of a few minutes during each session.

The great news is that there are indeed things you can do to help him with balance and strength. Check out these California Animal Rehab videos and interviews about life on three legs (not all will apply to your situation, scroll through to find ones that are), and also check our Gear Blog for posts about balance (again, scroll through for applicable ones). You'll find lots of ideas there.

We can't wait to hear more about Nolan. Do you know how he lost his leg?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
8 September 2012
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12 December 2012 - 1:40 am
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The shelter told us that he was born with a deformed leg that kept tripping him when he tried to walk and run. His quality of life is much better without it!


Thanks so much for your help! I'm a new pawrent and wanna make sure I give my tripawd the best care he deserves. :)

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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12 December 2012 - 6:06 am
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Nolan is adorable.  If he had a deformity, he is likely accustomed to life on three legs.  The amputation just took the leg he hasn't using out of the way for him. It will be hard to minimize his activity until he develops and adult brain. For now he is just a happy little guy enjoying life.

Wishing the two of you the best, and hoping that adult brain develops quickly. winker

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.

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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13 December 2012 - 12:16 pm
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He's adorable! I also have a Beagle/German Shepherd mix. She was also VERY clumsy until about 14 months old. This is my post-tripawd dog though - she's a four legger. Still, even on 4 legs I was worried about her. I got pet insurance for her (something I never had for a dog before - sure wish I'd had it for Abby!). She managed to survive puppy-hood (she's 18 months now and much less clumsy!) with only one minor soft tissue injury. I know it's a bit more worrisome with only 3 legs to go on, but it's hard to slow down a puppy.

Wish I had some good advice. Try to get her to take it easy - at least not jumping up/down/off of things too much. Our Abby (also a pup while she was a tripawd) seemed to know instinctively to take it easy when getting down off of the sofa and whatnot. Hopefully Nolan will learn that too!

Jackie, Angel Abby & Bunny Rita'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!

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