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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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New mom to tripawd-what should I expect?
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Member Since:
10 December 2011
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12 December 2011 - 10:49 am
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I adopted a German Shepherd dog, Koen, who had his rear, right leg amputated at the hip about 7 weeks ago.  I also have a four-legged GSD, Molly, who is very active.  I try to include Koen in all of our activities (beach, park, walks), but he seems to get worn out before lunchtime.  At the risk of sounding like a complete moron (remember, I'm new to this!), I'd like to know if Koen will get to a point in his recovery where he can do everything (activities) that my other GSD enjoys.  I worry that I'm pushing him too hard, but do let him "chill" when it seems that his other rear leg is tired.  The vet says we'll know in a couple of months whether he "muscles up" well enough to keep up with all of us.  I'm not the most computer literate person in the world, so if someone can point me in the direction of info re: what to expect for the first year or two after amputation, that would be great!  Thanks!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 December 2011 - 1:12 pm
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Hi there, thank you so much for joining us. Koen is such a handsome pup! How did he lose his leg?

You are most definitely not a moron, you're super smart for asking about the best ways to take care of him. Seven weeks is definitely not a long time, it will take him months to strengthen up. There are things you can do to help, like canine rehab games and activities; scroll through these posts about canine rehabilitation for ideas and check out our Gear Blog for more. Take it slow though, his body is still healing.

It's smart of you to let him chill when he gets tired. We know from our own Tripawds Spokesdawg and GSD Wyatt Ray (who looks like Koen's brother!) that it took a while, almost a year, before his leg strengthened up. And while he will try to keep up with other friends (it's a dawg thang), when he looks like he's getting tired, we make him take a break. Being extra vigilant about not letting him jump to or from heights, playing too hard and just overall making sure that he's not doing anything to add extra stress to his joints is always a good idea.

I'm sure others will have lots of good tips, so be ready! And thanks again for joining, it's great to have you and Koen and his other GSD here!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Golden Girls
12 December 2011 - 1:40 pm
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Jerry just gave you some excellent advice! I just wanted to say hello & welcome you to our family here at Tripawds. Please post some more pics of your pack - would love to see them.

Sending you many golden hugs, and I look forward to hearing more about you.


12 December 2011 - 2:36 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds.

You are awesome for adopting, and you will be rewarded for adopting a tripawd!

On a completly different scale- my tri-pug Maggie was a rear amp, 7.5 years old at the time of surgery.  It took her more than 6 months to work up to walking a mile on her own, which was half the distance she could easily do before her amp.  Seems like it takes more time for rear amps to build up strength and endurance; it really is important to work on both.

Because of her pugness (a.k.a. obstinacy)  I never really had to worry about her trying to keep up with her sister or us, Mag expected all of us to come back to her laugh.


Karen and the pugaplooza

Member Since:
30 July 2010
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12 December 2011 - 3:46 pm
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Well if you want a 1.5yr post amputation story, I got one!

So my 10 yr old tripawd (back left amp) went on a hike with us, which was three miles long and lots of elevation changes.  (I had no intention of it being that long, but the person I went with claimed we would be going on a shorter walk, but we missed a turn for the shorter loop).  But good news, she made it the whole way! We did take plenty of breaks, but when we were actually walking she was in front trying to pull the whole time! It was about 1hour 45min total (breaks and walking)  If you work with Koen to build up strength in the remining leg, you can expect that after a year you probably wont notice much difference in activity level. They will still be limited somewhat (be careful with playtime), but let me tell you, I had no idea my dog could do something like that at her age and with her three legs.  A testament to her strength training and endurance building over the last year and a half.

Koen will get there, just patience, strength and core building!!!

-Chloe's mom

P.S. she had no problem falling asleep that night

Chloe became a rear amp tripawd on 7-29-10. Another tumor was removed on front leg 2-20-14. Found 3rd tumor on neck 2-2015, but she's still kicking cancer's butt at age 14. Chloe's blog

Caledonia MI
Member Since:
13 October 2011
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12 December 2011 - 5:47 pm
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My Doberman Levi is 8 weeks post op. He is a front left amp. He is really coming a long way. Each week I think he' doing great and then the next week his speed picks up or his endurance is extended again! The biggest issue I have found is that "on leash" he doesn't seem to do as well. It seems harder for him to pick a pace. I have another Doberman that is less than a year old. I was really worried about how I would keep them both exercised. It has actually worked out really well. I have quite a few places that I can bring them off leash. It works out great because Levi (my tripawd) walks along with me and Koa (puppy) tears around the field like his butts on fire! By the end of our walks they both got what they needed! Also, I am a big jogger and was just devastated when Levi wasn't going to be able to run with me anymore. I've since become very interested in trail running. The off-leash thing is great. Each dog can go at their own pace. We ran my favorite 4.5 mile loop on Friday and Levi did awesome! I didn't think he would ever be able to run with me again but he is really surpriing me. It's interesting because I can see his muscles developing again and other new muscles developing to make up for the missing leg. I can't tell you what to expect a year from now but I imagine they will continue to get stronger from here. Good luck and welcome to the site!

Levi was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma 7-7-11
Ampuversary 10-14-11
Lung Mets Discovered 1-4-12. Chemo seemed to not be working so we switched to Artemisinin and other supplements. In May, Levi developed a sinus infection and started having seizures. The cancer had moved to his brain. We let him go 6-26-12.

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