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.
JUMP TO FORUMS ↓
Join The Tripawds Community
Learn how to help three legged dogs and cats in the forums below. Browse and search as a guest or register for free and get full member benefits:
What does it mean to Be More Dog?
Find out in Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now by Tripawds founders Rene and Jim. Learn life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Get the book and find fun gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.
4 July 2020
Just rescued a darling female pup, Lily days ago. It wasn't until hours after we brought her home we noticed a strange lump on her hind, left hock. We rushed her to the emergency vet thinking she possible broke her leg playing too rough with Grayson, our 2 yo pup. Long story short, she had apparently broke her tibia weeks ago and it healed untreated, fusing her good joint and giving her a "new joint" where it didn't belong. She walks on it pretty good unless she's on it for awhile which is why we didn't notice it when we first got her. Anyway, the ortho said watch it and keep her activities limited (impossible with having a puppy and another active dog) , fuse the "new joint" leaving her hock (ankle) immobile and still possibly be painful or amputate it if it's limiting her. Obviously we were hoping for some sort of surgical procedure to fix it completely. Unfortunately, that's not possible. Needless to say, we are devastated and looking for any guidance or uplifting words to help us through this unforeseen situation. We adore her already and are so happy we found each other. She need us and we just want to give her the best quality of life possible. I should add, we are planning to schedule another ortho consult for a second opinion.
Thanks in advance
24 September 2009
Welcome and best wishes for Lily! She's lucky to have found you.
Have you consulted with a board certified orthopedic surgeon? Are you near a veterinary teaching hospital? Lily may be a candidate for a prosthetic. You'll find many articles, videos and podcast interviews about prosthetics in the Tripawds News blog .
While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you're sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!
Please keep us posted. Your future forum posts will not require moderation. Meanwhile, start here for help finding all the helpful Tripawds resources and assistance programs.
25 June 2020
I think there would be a lot of different opinions on this, and I definitely think a second opinion is always a good idea. I admit, I tried to explore every possibility for avoiding amputation myself. That said, a bit part of my hesitation with amputation, personally, was that I don't know how long my dog has left and I didn't (don't) want him living out his final weeks healing from surgery. We ended up taking that crapshoot. But if I'd had reason to believe he'd live years longer... It does seem like most dogs have great quality of life as three-leggers. If there is another option vets think might work, I might be inclined to try that first as long as complication rates for that other surgery are very low and I had the money to afford it. If the other surgery has higher complication rates I might go straight to amputation. If low complication rates, my thought would be, why not? We try it. If it works, great. If not, then we amputate. That would be highly dependent though on if I could ultimately afford both surgeries if it came to that.
27 July 2014
How old is darling Lily?
It sounds like you got some good advice from the ortho and it may be worth exploring a prosthetic as Jerry suggested.
There has been a number of puppies who've had amputations. Here are a few:
Here is another inspiration - Trey who was born with 3 legs: https://tripawd.....ty-member/
And Trey doing wheelies: https://tripawd.....-wheelies/
Trey also became a therapy dog.
Let us know how it's going with Lily adapting to whatever option you choose.
18 October 2009
Hello and welcome to you and Lily.
What kind of pup? How big will she get? How old is she now?
Keeping the leg would be the best is there is a way to fix it and she isn't in constant pain. Also- if there is a surgery I would want to know the success rate and how long she would have to be on restricted activity.
Second I think would be looking into a prosthetic if she would be eligible, you could afford it, if there is a location close enough to you and then if you can commit to the training time to get her used to it.
If you do get to amputation then depending on how old she is you might be best to wait a bit- that's a conversation to have with the specialist.
My current Tripawd is a little Pug mix (about 15 pounds) who lost her back right leg at 7 months old after being hit by a car. I adopted Elly when she was 10 months old, she is now a bit over 5.5 years old and she can do pretty much anything a dog her size and age can do. I keep her on the lean side and she is very strong and fit. We work on core strength, balance and over all strength just about every day through trick and obedience training, food puzzles and games and exercises (different things every day). We don't do long walks and I try to limit her walk time on concrete. I also avoid activities that require repetitive 'burst' or 'explosive' movements. Otherwise Elly is free to be a dog and if I do say so she lives a pretty good life!
Oh, we also do the sport of Nose Work which is a great activity for Tripawds since it challenges the brain, engages the hunt instinct, can be tiring and is easy on the body.
Good for you for keeping her! Let us know how the next consult goes.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
15 July 2016
Hi, I'm sorry your learned Lily has such an injury as a puppy. I got a similar diagnosis for my Nyaya (she has since passed) when she was 10 weeks old that you did for Lily . Nyaya's injury was a severed nerve (she could not move or feel her leg from just below the shoulder down). The first hope was for the nerve to grow back, if that didn't work then fusing the joint, then amputation. The nerve failed to grow back and we learned the injury damaged growth platlets in the shoulder so amputation was our only option. We did that when she was about 4 months old Nyaya lived 14 and half years as a 3 legged dog. She had a active happy life (fetching ball, playing Freesbie, swimming and frolicking in the snow), but it would been better if she had been able to keep her leg. She was just shy of 15 when we let her go (failing liver and debilitating arthritis).
I suggest you do what you can to help Lily keep her leg as it is for as long as possible, then progressively do the least invasive option needed to delay doing something that will negatively impact her mobility for the rest of her life. Resort to amputation only if/when there is no other choice. But if you get to that point rest assured your dog's life will not be ruined by having to have it done and that a 3-legged dog can live a long happy and active life.
Take a long view on Lily's life. Think about how what she does today will impact how she feels when she is over 10. This will mean balancing the immediate benefit to her in the now against out the impact of that activity on her in the long term. Playing is a must, but you will need to step in and call a time out when she starts looking exhausted. Instead of playing hard for an hour break it up into three or four 10 minute periods. Consider crate training her as when she is in the crate you know she is not overdoing it. Nyaya loved her crate and it was a way we could control her activity when she was a puppy (she was fed in it and always got a treat after entering, it became her safe place).
Take her swimming regularly if that is at all possible. Strong muscle compensates for weak joints and swimming is a wonderful exercise. You can let her swim for as long as she wants/can keep her head above water. Commit to keeping her in shape over her life. Extra weight is not good for damaged joints.
If it is a front leg try to prevent her from pounding the remaining front leg. I tried to prevent Nyaya from doing things like running down stairs or leaping out of the car. I carried her down the stairs and then put a baby gate up to prevent her from running up and down them through the day while I was done. I did let her run down hills and leap from the couch when the door bell rang as those things are necessary for a happy dog life. But I put an old cushion from a recliner on the floor below the couch so she would be leaping onto it before hitting the floor.
Given I was moderating Nyaya's activity I didn't 'use up' her active time on dull walking through the neighborhood. I drove there or pushed her in a cart to the park so 100% of her active time was used for 'fun stuff'. If you like biking you can get an attachment that will let you pull Lily with your bike. In the park we visited there was a man who had trained his dog to jump into the cart before they got onto a the road and jump out when there were in the park (these carts have zippers if you dog is not so obedient).
You said watching her activity level was 'impossible'. It is not impossible you just have to be creative and diligent. I have imagined that having a dog that I didn't have to constantly monitor and manage to prevent them from injuring themselves must be pretty cool. But needing to do so is not that big a deal and I am thankful that I did everything I could to make Nyaya's life fun and active for as long as it was.