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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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Member Since:
28 February 2024
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15 May 2024 - 8:35 am
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Does anyone have suggestions for helping a dog with rear amputation ride in a car? My dog Suebee's favorite thing used to be riding in a car. Now she is anxious. I have tried using a car seat but she is too long and it causes her to be more unsteady as she likes to stand up. She used to stand on the console between the seats with her rear legs on the back seat. This seems dangerous to me with only one rear leg so I block off the console. Now she stands with her nose at the vent, smelling the air. She tries to stand up and smell the air from the window, but again, she is so unstable that I don't roll down the window anymore. On short trips she seems to do ok but I travel 30 minutes to go see a friend and she is anxious the whole time. I praise her, hold her harness on turns, do what I can but this is such a job. I'm beginning to resent her being tripawd.

She used to be my service dog and help me but now the table are turned and I am exhausted with trying to make floors safe for her, trying to take her in the car, help her in and out of the car, etc. When we walk, she has lost her manners. She has become so needy. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'm beginning to wonder if she would be better off with a different home.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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15 May 2024 - 1:14 pm
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Hi Joyce,

It's so good to hear from you. Suebee sounds like she is doing pretty well, and energetic too, that's awesome.

We totally understand your worries about her being a Tripawd, and all the energy you are having to put into keeping her safe. Here's the thing: maybe you can pull back just a little, and let her do her dog thing. She is more resilient than you think, even on three legs! You've done everything to keep her safe and now it's time for you both to just enjoy life. 

Also, remember that no dog can stay 100% strong and healthy forever. Eventually she would have needed assistance getting around as a senior dog. If we are lucky enough to be the parents of a senior dog, it's our job to help them navigate the world. You are just getting a head start.

When it comes to leash walking, Tripawds will always walk faster than four-legged dogs. That's not her losing her manners or being disobedient. That's just her trying to keep her balance and momentum. Leashes make that tough to do but unfortunately they're necessary in most places.

My guess is her anxiety signals are coming from her concerns about your anxiety. Dogs mirror our emotions. She knows you are worried and exhausted. Please don't feel like you need to rehome her. You are doing great, and now it's time to breathe and remember that she needs to feel your belief in her. She believes in you, and we do too. 

As for a car suggestion, have you seen a car hammock? These are awesome and while they don't guarantee 100% crash tested safety, they're better than allowing a dog to roam in the car. She may try to stand up in it but will soon realize she has no choice other than to sit or lay down.

Here's a recent forum discussion about hammocks, and it includes links to other ones. People love them!

Member Since:
28 February 2024
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21 May 2024 - 9:48 am
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Thanks for the suggestions. If she slips and falls on the floor I feel its up to me to buy rugs for her security.  A car hammock is so restrictive. A car safety harness that will still allow her to look out the windows and smell the air might be better. I have to lift her in and out of the car (steps don't work). How can I not be anxious when so much of her safety now depends on me?

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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22 May 2024 - 11:39 pm
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A dogs safety always depends on us, that doesn't change even when the lose a log. The hammock should allow her to stay securely in the back yet still sit up and look out the windows.

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