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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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Hiking with a tripawd - looking for advice
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Forum Posts: 2
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13 February 2018
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15 February 2018 - 4:41 pm
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Hi all!

I'm wondering if any of you have taken your tripawds on hikes and any recommendations or tips you might have; I'm moving out to Seattle in the summer and am really looking forward to getting out and exploring the mountains and trails. I just adopted a tripawd border collie/lab mix and she's missing one of her front legs. I'm sure the experience is different for every pet, but I'm hoping she will be able to join me on some hikes without overdoing it! 

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15 February 2018 - 5:11 pm
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Hi Karlie! Thanks for asking a great question. Your Tripawd is lucky to have you, what's her name?

In general what you'll find is that while Tripawds are willing to go the distance and walk/hike until they are so exhausted they cannot move, that doesn't mean they should. They are not cut out to be long-distance hikers and runners (even more than a mile is a lot of work for them), because hopping on one front leg takes a tremendous amount of energy. In the long run, too much hiking and long distance walks can put any dog at risk of osteoarthritis and joint problems, even a high energy breed like a Border Collie.

Depending on how far out from surgery she is, you can try walking her on very short hikes of less than say, a mile, and see how she does. But if she ever sits down on a walk and doesn't want to go any further, that's a sign that she's overdone it. When that happens, it's best to allow for several days of R&R and then start out on walks again but 1/4 the distance of the last one. Then build up again, until you find the right distance for her where she doesn't tire out like that. Make sense?

Our own Wyatt Ray is extremely athletic, but I would never ask him to hike anything longer than 1.5 miles during his younger days. At nine, he's happy with a 1 mile hike at most. And he's a rear legger. Front leg Tripawds use much more energy to propel forward, so any kind of long distance walking is even harder on them. 

If you want to be certain about her capabilities, go for a consult with a canine rehab therapist. They can evaluate her and give you tips about how much exercise she can tolerate. The best part is the Tripawds Foundation may even pay for your first rehab visit !

Lastly, there's no need to leave her home when you want to go on epic hikes. Invest in a doggy stroller like so many folks have done, and she can go anywhere you go!

I hope this helps. Let us know how the move goes, we'd love to hear more about her adventures.

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Forum Posts: 3
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22 February 2018 - 8:14 pm
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Hi... I have a tripawd Jack Russell terrier. He's certainly not the size of your dog but he THINKS he is (!) and lord knows Jacks have all the energy in the world. So I have had this happen way too many times... He lost his leg at 8 weeks old so he has no idea that he's different from other dogs. And he would run until he dropped if I let him. But he's young, athletic, active and his busy little mind is always looking for what else is out there. After a rigorous course of rehab and strengthening, I thought he was ready for leash walks and he loved it. But no matter what, no matter how slowly I tried to build up his strength and endurance. it was always the same... he ran and played while I monitored, and the next day he could barely move. I live in California and had dreams of hiking with my dog but he just can't. So I got him a cart and that's what I would recommend for you. They make really rugged durable ones, they will let your dog rest comfortably. What I do is let the dog walk for a while to get some energy out and then settle him into the stroller to keep going. He loves just checking out all the sights and smells, and people are always friendly and interested. Check it out.

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