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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My dad-in-law has a 7.5-year-old Rottie named Conan, whom we all treat as the youngest child in the family. He recently started limping after a winter accident where he suddenly charged at the wheel of a car that was trying to get out of icy snow. The doctor said that he actually had a torn ACL, and it has probably been bad for some time. We all chipped in for his surgery here in Norway (USD 6300) to place nine screws in his hind leg. He was cautioned against walking too much, but my dad-in-law needed to take him out to do his business and eventually started walking him probably too early. 1 month after the surgery, his leg swelled overnight, and we rushed him to the vet for what seemed to be just a normal infection. But the doc has just confirmed that this bacteria strain is one that their antibiotics normally don’t work on. His screws have either been dislodged or broken as well- something we can’t wrap our head around because he did not seem to be in pain until the day the swelling appeared. The doctor says we can amputate his leg, but given his weight, he feels that his other leg will give in soon. His current visit and treatment of the swollen leg is something we are not even sure we can pay for as we had already used up his insurance on the first surgery a month ago. We are all crying and confused. We also don’t want our baby to suffer, and the doctor is giving us this feeling that amputating Conan is a lost cause and will not give him the quality of life he deserves. Are there any rotties here that have lived long after amputation and with an elderly owner?
Conan was sold to my dad-in-law as somewhat of a therapy dog to get him to walk after his quadruple bypass. He lives in a house that has two flights of stairs and has walked or ran with a funny wide stance ever since he was young. He was called a defective baby- having a very small extra toe (which I would never consider a defect). He is allergic to pet food (he eats cooked chicken and pork-so far the only thing he tolerates), and loves snow and full-body scratches. He is also a flirt when it comes to house visitors. We love him so much.
Hi Sarah and Conan, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so post away.
I’m sorry Conan is in such a tough situation. In cases where a vet isn’t confident about a dog’s ability to be happy on three legs, it’s always best to get another opinion from a credentialed orthopedic surgeon (even if your current vet is one, another set of eyes always helps). That really is the best way to help determine if he is a good candidate. Sometime even third opinions are necessary for a parent to feel comfortable deciding what to do.
What is Conan’s weight? Is it just that the vet thinks all big dogs don’t do well as amputees? If that’s the case, another opinion from a more progressive vet would definitely help. The best vets who practice modern medicine have told us that size nor age should not exclude a job from being an amputee candidate, as long as the pup is in otherwise good health.
Is Conan big because he is overweight? If that’s the case, he can lose weight! Many new Tripawds are forced to drop excess weight after surgery, it’s not impossible.
Regarding the stairs: how many are in the house, and are they carpeted or bare wood? Also, does Conan need to access stairs in order to go outside? A slippery stair case will be a problem for Conan and in the short term at least, he will be restricted to only living on the ground floor.
If Conan’s other cruciate does go out on him, recovery is so tough but not impossible. Read Petra’s remaining leg surgery for a good idea of what recovery looks like for a Tripawd. So, if that happens to Conan, your dad will likely need lots of help nursing Conan back to good health.
We have had many Rottie members join us here and go on to live good, happy lives on three legs! See:
8 February 2021
10 April 2020
Ziva has been thriving as a TriPwad for almost a year now. She runs, plays and does everything she did before the amputation. Sometime a little different but it has not slowed her down. Ziva just turned 8 on Jan 28th she is 85lbs and a joy.
The only thing slowing her down is her cancer, but the loss of a limb does not. I would find a second opinion and trust in your dog. My Ziva goes up and down stairs no problem, jumps in and out of the cars no problem. I always try and keep her from doing to much but I trust her to know what she can and can not do.
Our main reason for the amputation was to rid her on the pain. It worked I just wish it was as easy to rid her of the cancer. The group is here for you and you have our support and experiances. This has been a god send for me and Ziva when our crisis first hit almost a year ago.
4 April 2019
HI, Brownie was almost 12 at time of amputation. Front leg. I totally agree with Ziva. Being on three did not change anything about Brownie, but in the end the cancer did slow him down.
Your family knows Cohan better then anyone. You will make the right decision.
Nancy and Angel Brownie
My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019. With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer. I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud! He will live forever in my Heart!
04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020
I just want to thank you all that commented or shared your experiences. Sorry it took me a while to reply. We visited Conan at the vet ready to say our goodbyes because my father-in-law was set on letting go. We cried unlike ever before for Conan and saw how he responded – trying to fight against strong medication in order to comfort us and stay awake. The nurse on duty then asked us to wait overnight for the doctor to give his final assessment. By this time, my father-in-law also knew that if ever an amputation was to be put on the table, that we wouldn’t be able to afford another 7000 USD surgery. The next morning we arrived at the hospital again and after a long discussion, Conan’s vet offered to do the amputation surgery completely free! I cried out of happiness. Conan is now officially a tripawd, and it was a difficult first few weeks for my parents-in-law because of their stairs situation. We offered to help him recover at our place but our landlord didn’t allow it so we had no choice.
Conan is now slowly building his strength. He can’t jump like he used to, but he is still the clumsy and flirty goofball we love. Thank you so much for encouraging me. This forum also helped me convince my father-in-law to wait a while longer and give Conan a chance. Will try to figure out how to post a photo here! I love you all!
WOW! We are both so so so happy with how things turned out. Conan is so blessed to have so many people looking out for him! Your vet is truly amazing and so generous. And for your father-in-law to wait and give the idea of amputation a chance to settle in, well, that speaks volumes about your family strength. This is the best news, thank YOU for sharing with us, you truly made our week.
Yes we can’t wait to see photos!
This is how adding images to the Forums works.
- Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own Tripawds blog (https://tripawd…../supporter). Pictures and video have to be hosted (live) somewhere other than in the forums.
- Once the photo is uploaded somewhere, right click and copy the Image URL or just copy the image if you’re on a phone
- Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself) in your post. It should automatically appear.
If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know.
22 February 2013
OOOOMMMMMDDDDDD! Just catching up on Conan the Tripawd RockStar!! Quite a stressful roller coaster journey to get to this point!
The way things unfolded that lead to the am speak volumes about this was definitely thenpathnto take! Clearly Conan let you know, even through his pain meds, that he had a lot of fight in him. The Tech had you revisit your decision to give the Vet a chance to speak woth the next day. And then for the Vet to do the surgery at no charge. WOW!!!..
Conan. Is a very loved boy, that’s for sure! And the love and commitment your family have together focusing on jis well being is just beautiful.
So how long ago was the surgery? It takes a solid two weeks’ish to recover from the major surgery itself. Then it takes a solid month-ish to adjust to the new gait, maintain balance, etc. As far as not being able to jump, that’s not a bad thing. Jumping up and down can put a lot of stress on the joints of a tripawd.
Conan getting to be clumsy, goofy Conan again is the best news ever! Cuddling and spoiling a tripawd issu much fun!
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
PS. Many dogs benefit from a consult with. Certified Rehabilitation Specialist. And the Tripawds Fpundatio will pay for the first visit.
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!