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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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Amputation decision
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
4 December 2019
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4 December 2019 - 6:01 pm
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Tomorrow I will be faced with a decision on whether or not to amputate my 13 yo chihuahua mix’s hind leg. She has suffered from a severe paw injury, is slightly overweight, but otherwise in very good health. We know that at least two toes have to be amputated (the other two are questionable) and there will be intense wound care management for the rest of the paw for several weeks. Our vet has advised that this will initially entail anesthesia and bandage changes every couple of days. He hopes to give us a better idea tomorrow if he thinks the other two toes will survive. The other option is full leg amputation. I have my concerns about both options. The wound care management with anesthesia has me extremely worried due to the stress and trauma of potential long term care. I also question how much trouble this paw is going to continue to give her or if it will heal and function just fine for her. On the other hand, I have read a lot of good things about dogs recovery from leg amputation, but by no means is it an easy decision. I am concerned about how she will function without the limb. As mentioned, she is 13 years old and a little bit over weight. She has been hobbling on three legs for about a week now and seems to be getting along pretty well, so that makes me hopeful. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

The Rainbow Bridge

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4 December 2019 - 11:11 pm
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Hi and welcome. I’m sorry about your pup. What’s her name? Sounds like a pretty traumatic injury, I’m sorry you guys are dealing with this.

What does your vet think about her being a Tripawd? If she is otherwise healthy, she can lose weight and get on with life. Most dogs do well, even senior ones.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with trying to save the leg. But If you opt for wound care and a longer recovery to save the paw, is that something you and she can both handle? How does she do at the vets office? If she gets stressed out with simple visits, a long term treatment may be a lot to ask of her. Also, if complications happen, can you afford more vet bills? Did your vet give you any kind of ballpark estimates?

I wish I could tell you what to do, but I can’t obviously. This is a tough decision but at least she has relatively good health on her side to make it a little easier.

Let us know what you decide!

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5 December 2019 - 11:32 am
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Your pup is lucky to have such a caring advocate as her hooman.  What’s  your sweet pup’s name?

No one takes amputation  lightly.  It’s major surgery, as well as adjusting  to her new mobility. 

As Jerry said, no one can tell you what to do.  She asked some great quest that could help you decide.   

Based on what you’ve said, there is a lot of after care, and yes, lots of stress from Vet visits, anesthesia,  maybe a lot of  pain during all this, etc.

What we can tell you is amputation  is ONE surgery that involves  approximately  two weeks surgery recovery time.  And the fact that she is already  showing  you she can handle  three legs okay is a good indication  she will do well as a tripawd, especially after that painful  leg is gone!!

YourVet will do proper  work up before surgery to make sure she’s in good shape and a good candidate  for amputation.  Of course, with any surgery there are always risks, but we do the best we can with the Vet’s input.

We’re here to support  you with whatever path you take.  Should you proceed with amputation  we are here every step of the way to help you navigate recovery.


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!

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