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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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Newbie Questions - Ramps, Stairs, Dog Doors
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Member Since:
2 June 2021
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2 June 2021 - 11:51 am
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Our dog is a brand new front tripawd as of 24 hours ago. The most important thing for her is being able to come and go through dog door to the backyard on her own, so we are now trying to figure out logistics for once she's able to be mobile without help or supervision.

She is a hound mix, about 60 pounds, and we think 15 years old. Because of her age we went ahead with amputation to help make her remaining time as pain-free as possible. Now we want make her post-op life as close to normal as possible.

So a few questions for those with advice or experience. Thanks in advance!

1. What are the general odds she will eventually be able to do the stairs without assistance and without supervision?
(Our fear is she goes down too quickly and hurts her remaining front leg, or falls off the side without a railing. Despite her age, she likes to take the stairs quickly)

2. Any advice on resources for calculating the optimal ramp length and angle for a 3 foot rise? 
(In case the stairs don't work)

3. How likely is it that she will be able to use the dog door again?
(It's a fairly heavy door, and she often requires retraining to use after a big change like moving houses or being unable to use it after wearing a cone)

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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2 June 2021 - 1:31 pm
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Welcome! And best wishes for your pup. What's her name?

Every dog is different. The one common thread running through answers to all your questions is that proper rehab, conditioning, and weight management are important to improve strength and quality of life for all Tripawds. Once healed, consider finding a certified canine rehab therapist. Consult with a CCRT or CCRP and the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first visit from the Maggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab.

Yes, with the right rehab and exercise, she'll be managing the stairs well in no time.

Many dogs have difficulty using ramps due to the visual cliff effect they experience. Find helpful ramp training tips in the Tripawds Gear blog .

Search these forums and you'll find many topics with members discussing doggy door use, with some videos proving they can do it.

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you're sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Please keep us posted. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
2 June 2021
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2 June 2021 - 8:14 pm
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Thanks! And thanks for all of the great resources on this site!

Her name is Maggie.

I've read a lot about the pros/cons of ramps, and want to give it a try.  For us a ramp is doable enough to make sure we try all the options to see what's best for her.

This first day she has mostly slept or chilled on her bed. She learned how to stand up, lay down, and take a few steps on flat ground. Plus a few tries on/off the couch when we left her alone for a moment, with 50/50 success. We've been carrying her up and down the stairs to the backyard. 

It's been challenging to figure out the right balance of helping with a towel or harness vs. giving her some space to figure it for herself. ie. how much to protect her from falling at her age or how much to let her take some gentle tumbles so she can test out her new capabilities. 

She's had lots of water, but her only pee in the first 24 hours was an accident. No poo yet. 

She is a chill dog, and is not very food or treat motivated. So I think our main concern is that she makes the effort for herself to get up and figure it out, and doesn't lay back and give up.

Thanks again!


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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2 June 2021 - 8:54 pm
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Awwww....Maggie sounds like such a sweetheart, and certainly well loved sweetheart ♥️

Glad she's resting and taking it easy.  Slow pace is what helps her heal.

She just had MAJOR surgery, all while trying to adjust to three, and on pain meds!  For now, this early in recovery and at her age,  I would offer any assistance  she needs as far as getting up, hopping a few steps, etc.  And carrying  her up and down the steps for now a good idea  until she gets a little further  in her recovery.  

As Admin Guy said, a consult  with a Certified Rehabilitation Specialist  can help a lot with mo iloty, core strength,   balance, etc after she recovers  more.

And yes, she will probably  have a few face plants, but for now until she gets her sea legs and balance, and while her incision  is still so fresh, try to avoid any tumbles, etc.  And that feisty gal should not be trying to get in the couch on her own- It's mighty hard to keep a dog off THEIR couch though😉

Dogs have a difficult  time with depth perception so using a ramp for the first time, especially with no rails, may frighten  her at first.  Just take it slow and easy and stay by her side.

Glad she's drinking g, but concerns about lack of pee. If she's  only gone once in 24 hrs, let your Vet know.  Even if it's an "accident", most likely due to pain meds, it's still good to eliminate more than once.  Poop will happen.  That often takes several  days due to meds, etc.

What are her  meds?  Dose and frequency?

Keep us posted and let us know how things ste going, okay?  And try and get some rest when you can.  Gett to this poi is often more exhausting  for the hooman than the dog.


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and  Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!


Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Member Since:
2 June 2021
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3 June 2021 - 5:14 am
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Thanks, Benny. This is all very helpful!

She did finally pee again last night. She's normally like a camel with water and peeing anyway. 

Her drugs are regular gabapentin and carprofen, and a bit of tramadol for the first few days. I don't have the dosages handy. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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3 June 2021 - 9:38 am
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Happy day, Maggie peed! WHEEE!!! 

(only in this community! icon_lol)

Glad she is having a good morning. Yep, time is what's needed. I know it's sooo hard to see our dogs so tired! Recovery is hard work though, and she needs time to adjust. She will get there.

About the ramps versus stairs, I've seen more dogs use pet steps than ramps. As Sally explained, they hesitate on ramps a lot because dogs generally have poor depth perception and when they can't judge the distance to the floor so they can put their feed down, some panic. You can try them though if you have them, just be patient. Here's a few posts about ramp and stair training.

Let us know how she's doing. Feel free to start a new topic in Treatment and Recovery with all of your other recovery questions! Thanks for joining.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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