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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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Newbie Stress and Heartbreak
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Member Since:
11 June 2022
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11 June 2022 - 12:20 pm
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Hi everyone. My baby girl Breeze is having her front left leg amputated on June 16th. She is a 90 pound chocolate lab pit mix. She is my world. I literally feel sick to my stomach whenever I think about it. (Of course I am always thinking about it). She has a high grade tumor in her foot, so this is the only way to save her life. I can’t even explain how guilty I’m feeling. She will go to sleep, when she wakes up she will be missing a leg. She won’t understand why. Ugh! Please tell me this stress and heartbreak eases up?

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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11 June 2022 - 12:48 pm
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Hi Breeze and family, welcome. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away!

I'm sorry you are facing amputation with her. It's a scary situation for sure, we can't blame you for being so worried. Anyone who's been in your shoes knows exactly how it feels (myself included). Here's what I've learned over the years since our Jerry lost his leg:

1. Dogs (and cats too!) just want to get on with life. If they are in pain, they want to stop hurting. She will not look back and be mad or blame you for anything. When she wakes up, she will be glad that the crazy tumor on her leg is gone. And once recovery is over, she will be happy that she can keep doing the things she loves. 

2. Dogs handle it way better than people. They do not have body shame issues or feel regret the way a human does. We are the ones who are burdened with so much emotion and guilt about this situation. 

3. Your attitude can make recovery hard, or easy. The more positive approach you have with the situation, the more Breeze will reflect that right back to you. If you are sad, she will wonder why you are sad and feel it herself. Dogs mirror our emotions. So when you start to get upset, remember she's watching. 

Around here, we like to say you aren't doing this to your dog, you are doing it for her so that she can start feeling better. As her sparkle starts to return after recovery, you will look back and wonder why you were so worried. She will amaze you with her resiliency and you will love her even more than ever!

Have you seen Jerry's Required Reading List , the book Three Legs and a Spare , and our What to Expect articles yet? Check them out when you can OK? Stay busy. And don't forget the Tripawds Recovery Shopping List so you can get your house ready for her homecoming.

I hope this helps! Stay tuned for feedback from others and ask any questions you'd like.

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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11 June 2022 - 2:04 pm
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Hi and welcome.

I'm sorry you are dealing with cancer in your girl, but I'm glad you found us.

My Pug Maggie lost a back leg to mast cell cancer.  I was devastated when the vets all said amputation was the best path forward.  Maggie had her amp before Tripawds was here so we went through amputation and recovery alone.  The vets said 'all dogs do great on 3!'.  Maggie didn't bounce right back- so I was sure I had the only dog that wouldn't adapt and that I had made a terrible mistake.  She had no medical complications and her pain was well managed, she was hopping on her own the day after surgery but she had no sparkle for weeks.  In hindsight it made sense, Mag had always been a stubborn Pug who hated any changes to her routine.  For example- she pouted for a month when I traded in my truck for a SUV and she couldn't ride in the front seat anymore!

Mag took her time but she did get her sparkle back and hopped happily through life for almost 4 more years.

One of the biggest mistakes I made though was to be 'down' around her.  She was grumpy, I was grumpy...we fed off each other.  I didn't realize until years later how big an effect my emotions had on her.  I think she might have got back to herself sooner if I was more upbeat around her.

This is a hard and stressful time for you, it's a big surgery and of course you are feeling a bit lost!  I don't think I had ever seen a three legged dog before Maggie had her amp!  But rest assured nearly all dogs recover and adapt and just get on with their lives.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Member Since:
4 April 2019
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11 June 2022 - 7:44 pm
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I'm so sorry to hear about Breeze. My choc lab, Brownie also had front leg amputation and he was also 90 lbs. I wanted to let you know he just did fine and he was three weeks from turning 12 at time of surgery. Brownie did do better after losing a few pounds.

We all understand what you are going through but once your pup recovers you will see she will do everything she did before just in a different way. 

Sending positive thoughts your way❤️

By the way I also have a half lab, half Pitt. She is smart, stubbrand and determined.

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!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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12 June 2022 - 4:35 pm
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Nancy that is so sweet of you to share Brownie's experience. Thank you for keeping all his lessons shared with new members!

You need to update us on your determined little sparkplug in Alumni soon!

Member Since:
6 June 2022
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16 June 2022 - 6:36 pm
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We just had our 100lb chocolate lab's front left leg amputated yesterday & brought him home about an hour ago. It's hard. I don't have much advice for you right now, but just wanted to let you know you're not alone-- same boat over here.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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16 June 2022 - 11:42 pm
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Breeze and fam how's it going? Hope things are better!

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