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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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Member Since:
24 June 2021
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25 June 2021 - 3:09 am
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Hi our 8 year old greyhound is one week post front leg amputation for osteo, we carry her out to the garden but she just lies there, we know she badly needs to pee so we try to get her to stand while supporting her with a large towel until hopefully she goes but when we hold her up she is so scared and she shakes and shakes and is so frightened she just wants to collapse down. She is only going about once every 36 hours, we are taking her out about 5 times a day and if the weather is good I sit with her outside for a couple of hours and she is content to lie on her bedding outside but never makes an attempt to even sit up, so we carry her back in but we're at a loss to know how to help her. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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25 June 2021 - 8:12 am
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Hi Kerry, I'm sorry to hear your girl is having a hard time. Please let your vet know what's going on. She should not need to go out 5 times a day, but she definitely should be urinating at least once every 12 hours. She may have a urinary tract infection, incision infection, or could need more pain control. These things sometimes happen and they are almost always easily treatable.

What kind of pain management is she getting?

Until you can get to your vet please watch the "How to Express A Dog's Bladder" video and gently try it with her. Don't press too hard or you risk rupturing her bladder, but if she hasn't gone in 12 hours it's worth a try.

Also see

How to Help a New Tripawd Urinate After Amputation

Please keep us posted!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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25 June 2021 - 10:09 am
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What's  your Grey's name?  They are such sweet dogs😂

Yeah, as Jerry said, this could be a number of treatable things going on, but she does need to be seen by a Vet.

Wjat pain meds is she on? Dose and frequency?  Is she eating and drinking?  Alert and engaged or still more blah?  Has she been mobile at all since she's been home?  My Happy Hannah would basically  just freeze up if I tried to assist her with a sling.  Thankfully she was mobile enough  that she could potty without  my help.

Also, massage up and down her spine, her neck and shoulder area.  Any signs of tension??   You can also put a warm towel out of the dryer and massage her before you try and take her out to help relax  tense muscles. 

Hang in there.  You're  still in the rough part of recovery.  I think a Vet visit  will clear things up for you and get her moving forward.


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:
24 June 2021
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25 June 2021 - 11:00 am
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Hi thanks for your replies.  Sorry I'm late getting back but we did take her back to the vet today, he checked her out and said she is basically okay but just really struggling to get the hang of adapting to 3 legs.  We live in Ireland and her name is Heidi.  She is such a sweet girl.  She came off her Tramadol and Gabapentin on Monday as she was so out of it and now she is just on Metacam in the morning.  She is eating small amounts and the same with drinking, because she is only lying down she finds it hard to eat, even though we are helping her and if we can't get her to take any water we use a little syringe to get some into her mouth which she doesn't mind at all. Thanks for that video that might help us a lot.  When we try to get her to even sit up she puts her right front leg out as stiff as a poker and when we try to get her stand with a towel or sling support she keeps wanting to drop her back legs down.  That's interesting about Hannah too as she does seem to freeze up but without the sling she'd just drop to the ground.  We take her 5 times or more if she hasn't had a wee and we just keep trying in the hope that on one of the visits out to the garden she will go.  This morning we carried her out and as she lay on her bed she just leaked urine non-stop as the poor girl hadn't gone for such a long time so that is why we keep taking her out in the hope that she will go more often but she gets in such a panic when we get her to stand that she can rarely achieve it.  

On The Road

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24 September 2009
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25 June 2021 - 12:55 pm
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I'm so glad you were able to take her and she checked out with the vet. Some dogs just need a little more time to adapt, that's not unusual at all. Greys are especially sensitive as you know, and I can see how the pain meds could make her wonky. Keep the Metacam going, it will really help with the inflammation.

Ok about getting her to wee. How far is it to the garden? If it's a pretty long walk, say more than a minute or two, she could be so exhausted that she just doesn't feel like going. Try not to take her out more than her usual times in an ordinary day. Did your vet give you any direction there?

Another question: when she tries to stand, is she standing on a slippery floor or on carpet? Traction is super important and will help her build confidence.

To get her to drink water, spike her bowl with no salt chicken broth, gatorade, pedialyte, tuna water, anything that will tempt her into drinking. Use care with the syringe because that could cause her to aspirate. When you do it, make sure to put it on the side of her mouth and not in her throat or on her tongue OK? And go verrrrry slow.

Does she react when you gently pet and massage her? Check out these pain signals and see if she's showing any.

Hang in there, she will find her sea legs and feel good again. It's still early. You've got this!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
24 June 2021
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25 June 2021 - 1:13 pm
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Thanks so much for the information and encouragement it really helps as we were feeling so lost. It is a bit of a walk to the garden so we carry her and let her lie for a while and then try to get her to stand, we didn't get any advice on how to go about it really. In the house we have carpet but so far she hasn't tried to stand indoors, we try to prop her up but she just wants to lie down. She has drunk a little better today and she had some steamed chicken too. The video showing how to massage her bladder was really helpful so we're going to try that gently. She does wag her tail when we stroke her unless we have been trying to get her to stand as by then she's a bit too traumatised but once she settles again her little wag is back. She is panting right now so going to give her some extra TLC. I really hope she can gain her confidence and be the happy girl she was. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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25 June 2021 - 2:55 pm
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You are soooo welcome, I'm glad we could help somehow. I know what you mean about not getting guidance for her after-care. A lot of folks are sent home without instructions. Here are some resources you may want to check out:

Jerry's Required Reading List

The Tripawds e-books library

Our What to Expect articles

The panting may be a sign she is hurting, it's one of the most common pain signals unfortunately. See if you can help her feel better with gentle massage on her shoulders, and heat and ice therapy. If it continues, check in with your vet and see if you can adjust the Gabapentin to a lower dose, given more frequently up to 3 times a day. That way she won't be as wonky but will have around-the-clock relief. I'm assuming the Metacam is once daily?

You are doing good by carrying her to the garden and it's great that you have carpet too. 

When she flops down, is there anything that gets her sparkle back? Have you tried bribing her with super yummy foods? Scrambled eggs? Stinky cheese?

One more question: Is her incision OK? Did your vet look at it? Sometimes an internal infection might be the cause of feeling so crappy. 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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