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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 rear leg amputee question
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Member Since:
12 May 2009
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4 April 2013 - 8:55 am
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I just started fostering a rear leg amputee , he is 2 1/2 years old and had the amputation a week ago.  He is stays on the area rug always and when we want him to cross the sea of wood floor to eat or go for a walk he is afraid and lets not talk about him and the wood stairs.  I have a front leg amputee who has been 3 legged for 3 years and he gets along on all types of flooring. 

My question is - are rear leg amputees less stable on wood floors or is it just that he has to get used to his legs again?

Member Since:
2 April 2013
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4 April 2013 - 9:48 am
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This is a very great question. I just asked basically the same thing on another post. My baby girl (Haley) hasn't come home from a rear leg amputation. We are hoping to be able to get her this afternoon, but I live in a wall to wall hard wood floor home, and am hoping she is ok to walk on it.


Any advice is welcome here too!



On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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4 April 2013 - 9:56 am
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I think a lot of how well a Tripawd can do on hardwood floors depends on the dog's overall confidence, their physical stamina before the amp (does the dog have good proprioception (awareness of body in space)?, and how much fur is between the toes. More fur betrween the toes makes floors more slippery so it's always a good idea to trim it.

Slippery floors tend to make life more challenging to get around especially if they're arthritic. And one fall the wrong way can really cause problems. For safety reasons we just think it's better to be safe than sorry and lay out a good walking path of no-slip rugs, yoga mats, whatever, on the ground where your pup has his/her favorite routes around the house. Especially for a new Tripawd, that will build confidence.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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4 April 2013 - 9:57 am
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Hey Koda if the dog is available for adoption be sure to list him our rescue forum. We'd love to hear more, thanks for fostering!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
23 March 2013
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4 April 2013 - 10:48 am
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We have a recent rear leg tripawd and all hardwood floors, including stairs.  She does seem to prefer the area rugs for general lounging and scratching and such, but she has seemed to do fine with the flooring and zooms around, including down and up the stairs (down she mastered pretty quickly and is faster than our 4-legged dog, up she's slower, but is getting to the point where she actually seems frustrated that she can't hop faster).  

She was pretty coordinated and fit/in good physical health prior to the amputation.  No arthritis or other issues.  Also, I asked the vet to make sure nails were trimmed to an ideal length before we brought her home.  They trimmed the fur between pads, as well.  

Member Since:
26 February 2013
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4 April 2013 - 1:25 pm
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I told Kermit's rehab vet that we have a lot of wood floors & she said, "Well, you're gonna have to redecorate!" :P

Her opinion is that a dog walking on a wood floor is equivalent to a person walking on an ice rink, and a 3-legged dog on wood floors is like walking on an ice rink in high heels... It can be done, but there's a much greater risk of falls & potentially serious injury.

I lucked into a clearance sale on a roll of carpet runner at our local Lowe's store-'it was marked down from $3.49 a foot to .75 a foot... I bought 100' & put it everywhere! Makes me feel better to see him able to be confident & safe... And as a bonus it actually matches our decor!

But I had also found cheap runners at an Ollie's store when we were just past surgery & I don't know how he would have gotten around without them. Even now he slips & falls a lot when he gets off the runners & it's clearly painful & unnerving for him. (he is a front amp)

For a few weeks after surgery I'd consider rugs an absolute requirement. The dog is terrified of falling on his incision, sore, unused to using the muscles he needs to be on 3 legs, and needs some security underfoot to learn how to walk & run again. Re-learning to ambulate will be almost impossible for a frightened dog without a non-skid surface on which to practice.

4 April 2013 - 4:00 pm
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My pug Maggie was a rear amp and at the time of her surgery I had wood laminate flooring in the dining area and kitchen.  The only way outside for the dogs was through the kitchen.  Neither of my pugs could navigate the laminate very well on 4 legs, I knew three would be a disaster.  I made trails for Mag out of non-skid material and she never went off of them.  I replaced the laminate with tile and it was better (planned before the amp). She would venture off the variety of throw rugs onto the tile without much trouble, but she would only turn or pivot on the rugs.  I also discovered keeping her nails trimmed and especially as she got older the fur between her toes helped.  I also used Musher's Secret later in her life when she started slipping again.  It is waxy and it kept her pads supple which helped with traction .

I have a trex deck in the back- and that is probably the most slippery surface at my house.  I had a rug outside the back door/dog door and rugs on the two stair areas that Maggie used.  She could walk on the deck, but she would not go up or down the stairs if the rugs were not there.

I think it is safer to have good traction , but some pups seem to navigate all surfaces OK.  Maggie was a very cautious pug and was never one to run full out anywhere after she was about 6.  She had her amp at 7.5 years old.



Member Since:
14 March 2013
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5 April 2013 - 2:24 pm
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We have hardwoord floors and linoleum (sp?).  He hasn't seemed to have much trouble...then again our house isn't that big so he can't get going too fast :) . He is also 9 years old so he has calmed down quite a bit from his younger years.   He has no problem with the two porch steps we have outside.

I would probably suggest more rugs if you can get them...just to make him feel a little safer for the time being.  He may be scared if he already fell once on the wood...


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