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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Trying to make decision about amputation for Flat Coated Retriever
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Member Since:
26 March 2023
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26 March 2023 - 3:29 am
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We're in the UK.

Our 8 year old Flat Coated Retriever has just been diagnosed with a malignant melanoma on one of his front paw pads. 

We saw a specialist oncologist vet this week who explained the options. Surgery will apparently involve amputating the leg. There wouldn't be enough clearance around the growth to just remove the paw pad.

We haven't yet had a CT scan, so don't yet know if the cancer has spread, but we're trying to make our decision on amputation in principle at least (then we need to have the scan as part of that assessment). 

Our dog seems really happy and healthy apart from his poorly paw.  Flat Coats' average life expectancy is 10, so for his breed he's getting old, but even the vet said he seems great for his age. 

I would be super grateful to hear from anyone who has experience of a Flat Coated Retriever (or perhaps other Retriever breed) who has had to lose a leg. They're quite big dogs, so I'm concerned about that, but then he has such a happy disposition - I don't know if his happy disposition would better equip him to manage or mean it's more of a trauma. 

I'm just reading Jim and Rene's book  'Be More Dog ' after reading about it on this website and can see there are various pros and cons of amputation, so my thoughts are now swirling. 

Any advice on similar experiences gratefully received.

Thank you 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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26 March 2023 - 1:56 pm
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Hi Stephanie, welcome! Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away.

I'm sorry you might have to join our club. It's good though that your dog is otherwise healthy and happy, and it sounds like a good candidate for life on three legs. Much bigger dogs here have done really well so I wouldn't worry about his size being a hindrance. We've had many Retrievers join us over the years. Not too many Flat Coated ones but here are some links to check out:



What I would want to know from the oncologist is, how much of the leg can be saved? If they can save at least to his elbow, he could be a good candidate for a prosthetic. If you are able to put the time and energy into training him to use one, as well as the financial aspect of paying for one (and future prosthetic tune-ups), an artificial limb can make a huge difference in quality of life for a Tripawd, especially as they age. They aren't for everyone but for the right dog and pet parent, prosthetics are a game-changer. 

Thank you for reading our book, we hope you are enjoying it!

Member Since:
26 March 2023
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27 March 2023 - 1:37 pm
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Thank you so much for the response and sharing the links. I will read with interest.  

30 March 2023 - 3:33 pm
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I myself adopted a 3paw legged  flatcoatmix. He was hit by a car when he was nearly 1 year old. He misses a front leg. I adopted him as he was 2,5 years old. Now he is 8,5 years old. He is still doining it very well. The walks are shorter now or more resting during the walks. I started with physiotherapie about 2 years ago. ( preventief) and he does it well after each treatment. 

If you want to know more, let me know

With kind regards


The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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30 March 2023 - 6:50 pm
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Hannie thank you so much for sharing! We are thrilled that your pup is doing so well!

We would all love to know more and hope you'll consider joining as a member. You're a great Tripawd parent!

31 March 2023 - 3:43 am
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I’m also based in UK. My Vizsla Poppy had her front right leg amputated 8 weeks ago (3 Feb). Her CT results showed no mets spread, histology result confirmed osteosarcoma and fortunately her lymph nodes were clear. She sailed through the op and was up and about straight away without any side effects. She is also undergoing chemo treatment - her second is due next week and once again sailed through her first treatment so fingers crossed this continues. Her blood works are good with exception of liver enzymes (due to also suffering from Cushing’s disease). 
I’ve just started her on Turkey Tail mushroom powder to complement the chemo and to hopefully give her some liver support. 
Like everyone else I was worried about everything but our fur babies prove to be so resilient and they have no idea how bad the situation is. They just get on with it. Best wishes x

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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31 March 2023 - 9:50 am
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Hi Jacqui! Thanks for sharing and offering your support! We hope you'll consider joining us as a member so we can follow along with Poppy's life on three! Best wishes to you both. sp_hearticon2

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