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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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vehicle shopping
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Richland, WA
Forum Posts: 6
Member Since:
27 November 2009
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18 December 2009 - 1:17 am
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Hello fellow tripawd families! I wrecked my car the other day…yes, we’re all just fine…but my car looks like it is totaled. So, we’re car shopping. And now that’s where you come in…I’m looking to keep Zoe, our tripawd, in mind when car shopping. We have a four-person, one-dog family.

Zoe, a weimaraner, usually traveled in the way-back hatch space of our Prius. Believe me, if you don’t have one, Prius cargo spaces are much bigger than you’d imagine. She barely fit, but barely fit comfortably, if that makes any sense. She could turn around, lay down, stand up, etc….just had to keep her head slightly down a bit if standing, and she learned to get her bottom out of the way before the hatch shut. No smaller than a crate would be, for sure…much bigger actually.

Anyway, now that she’s a tripawd (as of two weeks ago), I’m wondering if life on three limbs might make car travel more difficult, balancing around corners and all that. Environmental concerns are very important to us too, as is the comfort of our dog. I’d never dream of going smaller than the cargo space of the Prius for Zoe, but certainly we are open to bigger, especially if that means help with her balance. And we’d like to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible at the same time.

Right now, we’ve narrowed down our choices to another Prius, a Subaru Outback (I had one years ago that I loved), or a Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI clean diesel.

Any thoughts on cargo space and tripawd-ness, or other travel issues of which we should be aware? She’s a rear leg amputee.


Any thoughts on

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Forum Posts: 3754
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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18 December 2009 - 5:06 am
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My concerns with a vehicle for a tripawd center around ease of getting in and out.  Obviously, Zoe is taller than Trouble and that may not be such an issue for her.  As Trouble ages, and the arthritis settles in, she is reluctant to jump into a vehicle anymore and is spooky of ramps or stairs, so I've resigned myself to lift her in and out.  We manage ok, but I wonder as I age about the safety of picking up a wiggly pit, for me and her!

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Forum Posts: 930
Member Since:
26 November 2008
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18 December 2009 - 9:23 am
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Kristina and Zoe,

I used to carry my two white Standard Poodles (liter mates) in the hatch area of a two seet 280ZX, so I can relate to what you are saying.  Like you, I am very environmentally concerned and have added solar to my house and now actually generate more electricity than I use.  If only I could get the electric company to actually pay me for the extra electricity.Confused  My understanding is that the latest Prius is actully larger than the earlier versions, has a larger engine, and gets even better milage.  Also, Toyota just announced that they will be introducing their plug-in version of the Prius by Spring.  I have a diesel pick-up for pulling our RV and it gets great milage and does not emit the soot normal to diesels.  I have heard mixed reviews of the VW clean diesel technology (not too reliable yet) and diesel fuel is not 10 to 15% more expensive than unleaded.  If only we can get COSTCO to sell diesel.

Cherry is a front amputee and I always lift her into the truck/car (a Hoda Accord Hybrid).  The RuffWare harness that they sell from this site, as proven to be a big help.  So, after rambling for a while, each of the ones you have mentioned would do very nicely for a TriPawd.

Good Luck,

Bob & Cherry

Livermore CA
Forum Posts: 684
Member Since:
24 January 2009
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18 December 2009 - 10:01 am
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I agree with Shanna that ease of getting in and out is of the greatest concern (after the environmental ones).  It will be harder for Zoe to jump in, so she's going to need some help.  Cemil has figured out that lying down when the truck is moving is the only way to travel so I don't have to worry about his balance in turns and such, but he's never fallen on the rare times he does stand.

Cemil and mom Mary, Mujde and Radzi….appreciating and enjoying Today

Cemil's blog

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28747
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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18 December 2009 - 10:05 am
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Kris, we are so sorry to hear about your accident! So glad that everyone is alright.

We had a discussion about cars for tripawds a while back that might help.

As for your choices, I think the Outback is the most practical, and is certainly low enough to help a Tripawd in and out of. I do like Volkswagens though, they run forever.

Good luck, and be safe out there!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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New England
Forum Posts: 59
Member Since:
17 September 2009
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18 December 2009 - 3:18 pm
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I am in the same boat. My minivan just crapped the bed. I cannot afford a new car (or even a used one, for that matter) at this time. My live-in boyfriend’s pick up truck is an unacceptable means of transportation for my dogs. I used to take Peanut and Bubba on adventures every day. Now they’re stuck to where Peanut can walk/hop, and to where Bubba can run (he’s my running buddy) until I can manage something at tax rebate time.

Anyhow… I agree that the main concern is Zoe’s ability to get in and out of the car. I purchased both a telescoping ramp and a RuffWear harness for Peanut, just for these situations. But she does not use either. She still hops in and out with no trouble. But those may be some products worth considering for Zoe. I’ve noticed no change in Peanut’s ability to stand or move in the car while driving,so I don’t think that would effect car selection.

I would say just pick the car you like best, or that most fits your budget and needs (although I agree with Bob about the diesel). Then you could help Zoe adapt to it with a ramp, harness, or the like.

Good luck!
-Melanie, Peanut (tripawd), Bubba.

~*~*~ Peanut is strength, love, and happiness. ~*~*~ 11/30/03 – 12/26/09

Portage Lake, Maine
Forum Posts: 1019
Member Since:
8 December 2009
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9 January 2010 - 6:38 am
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Late in this discussion but thought I'd post a reply anyway.

I have a Honda Element – awesome doggie vehicle in that it has no rugs and large area once back seats are taken out. But that may have nothing to do w/ Tripawd life.. I purchased a telescoping ramp as well…it works well and I used it alot at first after Maggie had surgery as she was so weak due to surgery and due to her being “down” for so many months prior. Now, I use her Ruffwear harness and help her in (rear leg amputee) – she starts to jump(she has jumped in a couple times but once missed so I don't allow her to do that anymore), I hold handle and then put my arm around her waist to lift up the rear of her. Coming out is easier…hold handle of harness and take some weight off her as she jumps out.

The Element is low to the ground so I can do this…Maggie weighs 63# just as an FYI.

For my husband's Jeep, however, this doesn't work…it's far too high…we use the ramp or he picks her entire body up.

Tracy, Maggie's Mom

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09

Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13


Tucson, AZ
Forum Posts: 35
Member Since:
11 December 2009
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9 January 2010 - 1:26 pm
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I’m always a huge fan of VW, they always run and are low enough to the ground that it shouldn’t be a problem for you dog. I don’t know much about the other cars you are talking about, but I have a close relative who has a Honda Element like Tracy and it would be an ideal car just as she stated. I’m actually thinking of getting one in a few months. Right now my partner and I have a 73 VW superbeetle and a Ford Ranger. Neither are the ideal dog car, although Lucky has no trouble jumping in and out of either for the time being.

Lucky Amputation 10/29/09 Adoption 12/5/09
Jedi Amputation 12/18/09 Adoption 02/04/10
"I am not afraid, I was born to do this." Joan of Arc

4 March 2010 - 7:10 pm
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We just got a Honda Element (“so that Milkshake could have more sq footage” – her papa) and we LOVE the spaciousness!! It even comes in a dog-friendly version that has dog bone flooring, a ramp, travel bowls, matching leash/collar, etc.

Eco-friendly? Nooooo, we’re only ave 22 mpg (auto, 2WD)…

But!!! Take the seats out of the back and you’ve got room for a crate, bed, AND bags!!

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28747
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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4 March 2010 - 10:41 pm
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OH pawesome! Yeah, we've heard great things about that Honda from other dog people, you can't go wrong with it. Congrats Milkshake, you scored!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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