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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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Recovery Plateau Advice
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Member Since:
26 April 2021
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5 June 2021 - 7:42 pm
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Our best little pal Rio had a traumatic accident six weeks ago today, resulting in his left rear leg being amputated half way down his femur. I haven't posted before but I've been reading the Forums and blogs to help navigate this sudden nightmare we found ourselves in, and I'm so grateful to everyone who is making all this information available. I'd have been lost without the wealth of advice in here - we faced a few pulled stiches, a draining seroma and an incision that began to open rather than heal - so THANK YOU ever so much.

My question is Rio seems to be hitting an 'energy plateau.' Every day since the incision finally healed up he's gotten a little stronger, more playful and his stamina is noticeably improving. I find that this week though, he's suddenly slowing it down a little. He'll wander the yard as always, then find a quiet spot to watch from instead. Or he'll 'ask' for a ride back to the house instead of zooming to the bottom of the stairs to await his ride up (he was clumsy going UP stairs even before his accident). Also, he's suddenly choosing to be lifted down off the bed rather than jump or use his stairs. 

It suggests to me that he's stiff or sore somewhere, however I've been giving him daily gentle massages and I don't feel any new muscle knots or tension and he doesn't react to pressing anywhere. He also still moves smoothly, no limping or favoring a side that I can tell. And his paws and pads all look fine. We have no other animals or children, so he hasn't been playing hard or overdoing it at all. Advice is most welcome.

Rio is a healthy 9yr old Mini Schnauzer/Wire Terrier mix, 28lbs and quite active with hiking and kayaking with us. And he's the absolute love of our lives.


Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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5 June 2021 - 9:32 pm
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Hello and welcome Mary and Rio, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

As he is becoming more active his new gait may be catching up with him.  My first rear amp TriPug lost her leg to cancer.  She was actually a slug for 6 weeks so hard to compare icon_lol.  But it did take her 6 months to work up to half the activity she was doing before her amp.  Back then I didn't know about the importance of rehab and core and leg strength.  Getting Rio evaluated by a certified rehab vet or clinic might be a good idea at this point.  We even have a program here that might reimburse you for your first visit.

My current rear amp Tripawd is a little pug mix who lost her leg after being hit by a car when she was 7 months old.  I adopted her about 2.5 months post surgery and she was fully healed but not at all strong. We started working on her core strength and balance and it really made a difference. To keep it fun we do a lot of food games and puzzles. 

Six weeks post op is still pretty early, especially since Rio had some recovery complications.  Be sure you keep your vet up to date but you sound like you are really in tune with your boy - you've made some great observations! Self-limiting activity can sometimes be a sign of pain. Is he eating, drinking and eliminating OK? It's possible he fell or slipped and you didn't see it- pretty common for new Tripawds.  Does he have good traction in the house? 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Member Since:
26 April 2021
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6 June 2021 - 9:39 am
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Thanks for the reply Karen. I'm in Northern Ontario so there's a 3hour time difference to the West Coast.

As for traction yes, thanks to this site the day after his surgery we bought lengths of carpet runner for the hardwood floor and put it all through the house - it's not pretty but it makes all the difference for our pal. He's eating very well, doing his business and sleeping fine, so no issues there. And when he sees a bird or chipmunk outside or we go to a beach, you'd never know he was recovering from anything.

I'm going to let him set the pace this week and if it continues or gets worse, I'll contact my vet. We have a new animal rehab facility here but it requires a vet's referral. I'll look into that if he doesn't improve. Does your program for the first visit cover us in Canada?


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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6 June 2021 - 6:02 pm
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Hi Mary, nice to meet you (sorry you had to join us!). It's good that Macy is doing so well overall, and you've been excellent nurses to him!

I'm going to ditto everything Karen said. Something that did stand out to me is:

I’m going to let him set the pace this week

Here's why. It's up to us to place limits and set the pace so our Tripawds don't overdo it. I'm sure you saw this somewhere (I'm so happy you found our resources :), but just wanted to reiterate how important is for us to manage activity. Not put Macy in bubble wrap, but make sure that he doesn't overdo things to the point that he is exhausted.

It sounds like somewhere he overdid things, and the pain signals he is giving are pretty common signs he's hurting. It is definitely worthwhile to let your vet know, just in case. And also as Karen said, the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit so I hope you'll take advantage of the program (yep, it's good in Canada too, eh!).

Right now I would scale back his activity way, way back, until he shows more enthusiasm throughout the day, to about where he was before this all started. Then restart his favorite games and activities ever so slowly. Watch for signs he's slowing down, stop, and end the activity. Lather rinse repeat 😉

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
26 April 2021
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11 June 2021 - 11:07 pm
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Thanks Karen and Jerry for all your advice. After a few solid days of rest Rio is back to his perky, engaged, carefully-recovering self.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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11 June 2021 - 11:39 pm
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Just catching up in time to say YAY for Rio!  Sounds like with some rest and cutting  back on activity  he's doing better!.   You already got great advice and insight  from Karen and Jerry.   

Clearly Rio is loved and adored♥️. Cant  waitmto see some pics of Rio kayaking  with you😎


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!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 June 2021 - 11:35 am
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Oh my DOG I called Rio "Macy"?! What the ???? Must have been a long day for me, I'm so sorry! smiley9

Super duper happy to know he is doing better, thank you for taking time to update. Don't forget the Tripawds Foundation will pay for the first rehab visit so please do take advantage of the program. Even fit Tripawds can benefit because it's more for our own knowledge than for them. Keep us posted on how things are going!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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