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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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Hardwood floors/stairs/harness advice?
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Forum Posts: 42
Member Since:
20 January 2009
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2 February 2009 - 2:00 pm
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Hi. So we expect to be “going tripawd” in the next few weeks. We have a 2 story townhome with hardwood floors, tile in the kitchen, stairs are carpeted but already have baby gates for our toddler.

Im wondering if anyone out there has advice on where to get the best type of carpet runners, etc for the house? We need at least 2- 3 and Im wondering if we need to just put a big area rug in our kitchen – at least temporarily? How long do most dogs need the extra traction ? Our thought was to get the cheapest most workable solution for the short term. If she needs them long term we will invest in something nicer down the road. (how long do we wait for that ? 3 mos? 6 mos? just depends on the dog?)

Im also wondering when, on average, people have allowed their dogs to attempt stairs? Im guessing at least 2-3 weeks? I think we may always have to help her down, but im thinking she will eventually learn to get upstairs on her own (assuming we allow it by opening the gate for her. we will have to close the gates when she is home alone) – she will be losing her left front leg.

Regarding the harness, when do we start using it? We will order it when we schedule the surgery. The surgeon said a harness would work better than a towel or sling from the very first day because a towel will rub on the incision. On the other hand, ive heard people here talking aboutusing the harness after the incision heals. Whats the going theory on this??

Thanks to all who read this for your time and your compassion. We love our pup dearly and this has been a rough road already so far…but we have high hopes!

Here and Now


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2 February 2009 - 5:31 pm
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Our local home improvement center had decent, affordable carpet runner available by the foot. Try checking Home Depot or a carpet store. And get something you can live with, because you might want to just leave it down indefinitely. While your pup will definitely regain strength and learn to maneuver on three legs, she will always have less traction with one less leg.

I carried Jerry down the stairs for a few days until he let me know he could handle that. After that I used a towel to provide extra support, or just walked down close by his side, until the surgery wound had healed. He quickly learned to lean against the wall and slide as he walked!

This is what we tell everyone who purchases a harness

“We recommend not using the harness until the surgery has completely healed and stitches or staples are removed. We have heard of no specific cases where any harness has hampered healing, but we believe direct pressure from the straps may irritate the wound. Please consult your veterinarian with any concerns.

We suggest using a soft towel slung under the belly if additional support is required in the meantime. A reusable canvas shopping bag slit down the sides also makes a handy sling.”

I'd really be interested in hearing your Vet's thoughts about the harness. I just know the pressure of the straps would cause pressure on the incision site of front leg amputees, if lifted for support. And I believe they could catch on staples or open stitches.

Forum Posts: 42
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2 February 2009 - 5:44 pm
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WOW- i love the shopping bag idea! I hadnt thought of that but I bet that will work great for the short term. I think Ill plan on that until she can wear the harness. I found that our local home depot has the best prices on carpet runners, though you are probably right about leaving it down indefinitely. Whether she needs it long term or not, convincing my husband to buy a more stylish one later when we have a perfectly functional horribly ugly one would probably be a losing battle! LOL!

Thanks so much. I dont know what Id be doing right now without all the advice from this website!

Forum Posts: 41
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24 February 2009 - 10:08 pm
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I know this is a little late but I figured I would throw my 2 cents in anyway…

When my Leo had his surgery, we went to Target and got the rubber stuff that goes under runners and area rugs to keep them from slipping. They are super sticky and we put them over our wood floors to help Leo. 4 weeks after his surgery, I had the rubber off the floors to the floors could be cleaned and Leo walked right over the floors with no trouble so I stored them in the garage just in case. He has not fallen on the wood floors so I have not had to put the rubber padding back down. I admit, they were a little ugly but it was all for Leo and I knew they would not be permanent. They are also a LOT cheaper than purchasing area rugs and runners for those of us who need to save money where possible.

I can't give advice on the stairs because we have a ranch.

Hope your baby's surgery goes well!

Sheri and Leo 

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 February 2009 - 4:01 pm
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Never too late Sheri, thanks!

Those rubber mats are exactly what we used in our house too. It was waaay cheaper than buying runners for the entire house, and after a while, I got the hang of only walking where I knew I wouldn’t slip. We only needed the runners for a month or so.

And hey, who doesn’t need to save money? We sure do!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 42
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25 February 2009 - 6:20 pm
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thanks for the idea (unfortunately we already have the carpets – though i dont think we will need them for long!)

 Another money saving tip: we bought convoluted bed padding at a medical supply store and cut it in half, stacked it up, covered it with a waterproof crib mattress and an old crib sheet and made a cheap yet comfy dog bed w/disposable components in case of accidents (rather than an accident requiring the replacement of the entire bed) no accidents so far, but it has worked out and was WAY cheaper than a 4″orthopedic bed !:)

Here and Now


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25 February 2009 - 6:24 pm
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What a great tip for making an affordable effective tripawd bed, thanks!

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