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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 Tomorrow
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Member Since:
19 July 2013
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25 July 2013 - 1:22 pm
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Hello fellow pet lovers.  My almost 10 year old pitbull mix is having her front leg amputated tomorrow due to bone cancer. I know that so many of you have gone through this and know the anxiety, fear and sadness I am feeling today, her last day with four legs.  I am even more scared about the cancer. I feel that I am doing what is best for Angel; for both her quality and length of life. She has also had two herniated disc surgeries in the past four year. Please say an extra prayer or think good thoughts for us tomorrow.....I have read many of your posts and blogs, and they have been immensely helpful. If any of you have any suggestions on our first few days home, please let me know. I am most worried about taking her to potty. I live in an apartment, and the bathroom spot we have to take dogs to is about 75 feet away. Thanks bunches....

25 July 2013 - 5:32 pm
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Hi Tracy, welcome to Tripawds.  Your future posts will not require moderation.

I'm sorry you have found yourself here, facing cancer with your Angel.  Since you have been reading on this site you know that it is a place to find information, ideas, and most importantly support.  We have all been where you are now and understand.

You should read though Jerry's Required Reading List, and maybe download the ebook Three Legs and a Spare.  Both have lots of info from this site on what to expect with amputation, recovery, and treatment if you go that route.

The recovery period can be rough- full of ups and downs as Angel deals with lots of meds and gets used to her new normal. Sometimes you might think you made a bad decision choosing amputation- but don't despair!   Some lucky pups seem to sail though recovery- hopefully Angel will be one of those. But don't get discouraged if Angel is not herself for awhile, stay upbeat and positive around her and she will come around.

One important basic is good traction . Put rugs down on any slippery surfaces.  New Tripawds really need good traction to build confidence.  And you can make a temporary sling out of a reusable shopping bag- just slit it down the sides and the handles are built in.  That way you can help Angel get to the potty spot and back, and around the house if she needs it.  You should really restrict her activity the first couple of weeks though, let her heal and rest.

It might help to look at some post op pictures if you haven't already.  It can be pretty startling to see your tripawd for the first time.  If you know what to expect then you can be confident and positive when you first see her. You can see some pictures in the Photo Gallery, scroll down to the Surgery and Treatment pictures.

Good luck with the surgery tomorrow, keep us posted on Angel's progress.



Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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25 July 2013 - 6:51 pm
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Hi Angel & Tracy.  Sorry about Angel's OSA diagnosis.  We've all been there with the fear, anxiety, sadness over our pets losing a leg.  Karen gave you some good tips on how to prepare for Angel's recovery at home.

Those first few weeks will be rough but before you know it Angel will be back to her old self.  Those meds can really do a number on them.  Lots of panting and restlessness.  You'll be surprised at how well she will most likely be able to get around.  Daisy hopped out to greet me when I picked her up the day after surgery like nothing had ever happened!  It was funny because the waiting room was crowded and it was a few minutes before anyone even noticed she was missing a leg!  Of course she was still high on all the drugs they had her on.  She did crash the following day.  I think it all caught up with her and all she wanted to do was sleep for the next 2 weeks.

Also, we have a couple steps going out our back door and I was determined to use a sling so she wouldn't lose her balance but she would have none of it.  She had no difficulties getting up/down those steps or over to the grassy area in our backyard (which is only about 20 feet?).  She had no problems figuring out how to squat to do her "business".  She's pretty stubborn and likes to do things her own way.

Sending good thoughts to you and Angel.  Let us know when you can how it went.


Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

On The Road

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24 September 2009
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25 July 2013 - 7:46 pm
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Angel and Tracy, thanks for posting and sharing your story. We are so grateful for your support and are happy to be here for you now. We will be thinking of you tomorrow so please keep us posted.

Karen and Marla both had fantastic advice. What I will add to it is, remember to take things one day at a time, and try not to focus on the "what ifs." You'll see how well Angel comes through this surgery and just be amazed. Pitties especially are just so resilient. Have you seen Trouble's story? She was an amazing pittie who kicked cancer's butt for two years! I have my paws and fingers crossed that Angel is just as fortunate.

Breathe, don't be in too much of a hurry to decide things, focus on the here and now and getting through recovery and you'll do just fine.


Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
1 February 2013
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25 July 2013 - 9:16 pm
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Welcome Angel and Tracy-

This is such a scary time and we know how you are feeling. Just know we are here to listen, offer a shoulder to cry on and smile at the triumphs.

Being a front amp, I highly recommend an elevated dish. It is so much easier for Shooter than having to support himself with his head all the way down.

It sounds like you are doing your best to prepare, but most importantly just give Angel lots of love and support. You will be amazed at how the bond you have now will be so much bigger.

Take care and get some rest for yourself too.

Luanne & Shooter

Spirit Shooter was a Miniature Australian Shepherd who was diagnosed with a MCT and had a LF amp 1/28/13 at 13-1/2 years old. 

Shooter crossed the Bridge on 8/28/13, his 7 month ampuversary and two weeks from his 14th birthday.

Southwestern Ontario, Canada
Member Since:
22 November 2012
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25 July 2013 - 10:02 pm
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welcome to a great, informative, friendly, helpful, allow you to vent and scream, and "we will cry with you" site!!  Angel will be fine.  It's us pawrents that are worse I think!!  I'm sending you many good vibes for tomorrow!!

Keep us posted.. 

Christine..... with Franklin in her heart ♥

Franklin, he was the Happiest Dog on Three Legs! Diagnosed 09/26/2012 with Osteosarcoma, amputated 12/4/2012.  Had a wonderful 5 1/2 months painfree until he ran for the Bridge on 5/15/2013.  Always in my heart, and always a guardian angel of my pack...   You can follow his Tripawd Adventures, before and after, in my blog, Frank'n'Farter!


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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25 July 2013 - 10:36 pm
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Angel is a beautiful girl. I'm sure her name is an indication of what a loving, gentle, swwet girl she is.

You have already made a decision on o e of the hardest parts of the journey for most of us. Itis frightening, it is scarey, it's unfair and it's also one of the best decisins you could make for your girl! The pain from one cancer will be gone!

Once recovery takes place....and it can be pretty tough for the first two, three weeks...yoj will be amazed t how haph and joyous Angel will be! You thinkyou have a bnd now? Ha! Oh my goodness! Your connection will be deeper than you could ever imagine!!

You can make a sling out of a towel--or canvas bag-- to help her to her potty spot. Maybe "they" would make a little exceptin for your Angel and let her pee and poop a little closer! And we love first pees and poops around here! We celebrate anything!

You will be amazed at ow quicky Angel adjusts to three legs! There may be a face plant here and there at first though! Just praise her and act like it's o big deal!

Remeber Angel doesn't kow se's sick and dlesn't give a rip aout any old diagnosis! She just k ows she likes being spoiled and being loved and waggng her tail! Be her cheerleader--applaud everything she does! When you pick her up, don't even look at the incision...just look i her eyes and show her how happy you are to see her and how proud of her you are!!
We are here walking by your side every step of the way. You are not al e! Welcome to your new extended family!

Now relax, ear ice cream, suck down some chocolate and get a good ight's sleep! Angel is!

Surrou dig you with serenity and calm,

Sally and Happy Hannah

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!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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26 July 2013 - 6:35 am
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fourminipups said
Being a front amp, I highly recommend an elevated dish. It is so much easier for Shooter than having to support himself with his head all the way down.

Luanne & Shooter

Thanks Luanne, I was going to mention this but forgot. Since all dogs carry so much weight up front, even smaller dogs can benefit from the boost.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Lancaster, PA
Member Since:
17 May 2013
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26 July 2013 - 6:37 am
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I agree with Luanne and Rene, I have a smaller front leg amp and he was having trouble eating and drinking until we got an elevated dish. It really made all the difference. 


I don't have anything to add, so I will just say that you're in my thoughts :) Best wishes and good luck on your journey. 


Heather & Barret

Barret was diagnosed with Hemangiopericytoma May 16, 2013. Front left leg/scapula/pectoral muscle was amputated on June 11, 2013 and we've never looked back. Follow our story on and read my column on That Pet Blog

Member Since:
23 July 2013
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26 July 2013 - 7:03 am
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My dog is scheduled for amputation on Monday so I don't have any advice.  I just wanted to let you know that I am right here in your shoes and will say a special prayer for you today.  I certainly can relate to the emotions you are going through right now.  Please keep us posted, I will be following you closely since you are just a few days ahead of us. 


On The Road

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24 September 2009
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26 July 2013 - 7:09 am
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tanksmom said
My dog is scheduled for amputation on Monday...

Welcome and thanks for joining Lisa. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Best wishes for Tank's speedy recovery. Please consider starting a new topic or blog to share his story.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
23 July 2013
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26 July 2013 - 8:26 am
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Hello Tracy, and Lisa, I too am really new to this my Cocker Spaniel Taffy just had his front leg amputated on Monday 7/22, and I too was very scared. Most vets keep the dogs 1 or 2 nights, mine went home the same day. I was also scared about pottying him, and we have a two story home, so he's on the first floor, but first night he peed all over himself, time, and time again. We just kept cleaning him, and keeping all the areas clean. Keep lots of old blankets on hand. You could go on Craigslist in your area, and post under free, and ask for old clean blankets, or maybe friends could help. If you read my post under 15 yr old Cocker Spaniel, and the replies, I'm sure this will help both of you. Taffy is now 4 days post op, and like people say, it is amazing how quick they adapt. There will be nose dives, but keep your spirits up, because animals are really quick on catching your feelings, especially your own animals, so stay positive. My biggest concern was Taffy going #2, and he still hasn't, but so many wonderful people, and their wonderful Tripawds have reached out, and advised me that this is natural, I also read that when they finally go, it's such a happy moment. If the bathroom area where you live is too far, then just let him go on the floor (bathroom, kitchen) Another helpful thing is before Taffy went in for surgery, my daughter cut his nails, and buzzed all the hair on his paw pads, this will help with traction , and Taffy has had no problem on tile floor. Taffy has had many surgeries in the past 9-almost 10 weeks, and if he can do it, so can your loves. I wish you all the best, and they will be happy Tripawds soon, by the way, Taffy already wags his tail, and has barked a couple of times. Bless you both, and your doggies, and we are all in this together. smileykiss Read my story, along with all the others, it will help you through this!



My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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30 July 2013 - 6:31 pm
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Tracy, how about an update on Angel.  I've been thinking about you guys.

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.

Member Since:
19 July 2013
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31 July 2013 - 4:18 pm
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Angel Update: She came home the day after surgery, so this is day 5. I think her recovery is going okay. She eats and drinks great, and she finally went poop yesterday, which was party time for us! She doesn't get around much, as she is not great with the hopping thing yet, but she gets up to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, and sometimes just stands. She always licks her other leg when she sits down, which seems odd, so of course I have to worry about that. A huge worry I had was that the place dogs are supposed to potty in our apartment complex is pretty far from my apartment, but my manager said it was no problem for Angel to go in the grass nearby for a few weeks. Whew....thanks for all of the support, and I would have been even more of a nervous wreck if not for the wonderful information and support of the Tripawds crew.big-grin I have some pictures on her blog at

31 July 2013 - 5:00 pm
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Hi Tracy,

Thanks for the update.  I added a link to Angel's blog to your post so others can go there.  When you have time and know your way around the site you should consider adding a signature block with a link to your blog.

My pug Maggie didn't poop until day 6 or is a loooooong wait big-grin.  It's good that Angel isn't doing much- she needs to rest and recuperate.  It really does help the healing process if our pups stay quiet for a couple weeks.  Not always easy, but in my case I had to really encourage Mag to get out of her bed at all!


Sounds like things are going well, I hope Angel's recovery is uneventful.



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