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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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When Friends and Families Disagree About Amputation Surgery
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The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28790
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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18 January 2017 - 3:33 am
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When your vet suggested removing your cat or dog’s leg, was your entire family on board? Unfortunately it’s not uncommon when friends and families disagree about amputation surgery. That makes the amputation decision even more difficult, and causes those in favor to second-guess their choice — especially during the critical post-op days. Fionn’s pack is one of thousands who can tell you all about that scary time!

disagree about amputation
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Fionn says “Yes, a great life is pawsible!”

Did your Pack Agree or Disagree About Amputation Surgery?

Amputation surgery is a huge decision to make for our pets, and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. The decision varies because all animals have different health histories, families have varying levels of income to contend with and perhaps the biggest factor of all is a person’s idea of what “quality of life” means for the animal. 

Until recently, amputation wasn’t even an option for most pets. Many of us were brought up to believe that “handicapped” or “disabled” animals are suffering. Society taught us that any animal who was “different” from the norm was not a happy critter and should be euthanized. Even senior animals were, and still are, put into this category by lots of people. Pet parents of specially-abled pets were viewed as selfish.

Most of us were probably blissfully unaware that our friends and family members even felt this way. Typically these strong feeling only come to light when we tell others that our vet recommended amputation for our beloved dog or cat. That’s when most of us discover out the truth about how our closest packmates really feel.

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It’s hard enough to consider this decision on our own. But when others have a say (or think they have a say) in the amputation surgery decision, the situation is agonizing. Through the years we’ve watched many families struggle with the amputation decision. One member will advocate for the surgery, while others will try to tell them why it’s a bad idea.

I don’t think my husband was totally on board with me having our dog’s leg amputated but he knew I had my mind made up. — Penny4Weims

If you ask us, only the people closest to and caring for the potential Tripawd should have a say in the amputation decision. And even if an outside family member or friend has been through the amputation journey with their own animal, their opinion shouldn’t be part of the equation. After all, every animal is different and no two situations are alike. Your animal is one-of-a-kind.

How to Decide if Amputation is Right for Your Dog or Cat

If you’re caught up in a struggle about whether or not to amputate, here’s how you can reach a decision.

Get multiple opinions from veterinarians. If your family vet says your animal isn’t a candidate for amputation, go to an orthopedic or oncology specialist for a second opinion. If the specialist gives a green light for amputation surgery but your family still disagrees, get a third opinion from another specialist. We’ve witnessed many situations where a third opinion made all the difference for an animal who ended up as a hoppy Tripawd.

Show family members the Tripawds community. Give them a tour of our three-legged dog and cat videos, the Tripawds Photo Gallery and watch our inspirational Tripawds Community video. Many times their opposition comes from not having seen how pawesome these animals can be on three legs. 

Call the Tripawds Helpline. Our trained volunteers are ready to answer questions about what being a Tripawd mom or dad is really like, both during recovery and after. 

Last but not least, jump into the Tripawds Discussion Forums and Tripawds Chat room. Ask questions and talk to people who’ve been in your paws and understand the dilemma you’re facing. They never hold back, and will always be honest with you.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. We will never tell you that amputation is the best thing to do for your animal, because it’s not always the answer. But we do promise give you the information to help you decide for yourself. 


It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 121
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20 January 2017 - 12:59 pm
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Aww that’s my Fionn!

Great post Jerry! I’m sure all of us has had to deal with people who criticize and question our decision to amputate. Even my regular vet who was not a supporter in the beginning changed his mind when I brought Fionn in a month post op for lab work. Anyone who questioned my decision has now been thoroughly SHUT DOWN now that they can see how well Fionn is doing. His ever-smiling face says it all. Yes, the financial burden is hard and I have had to make sacrifices to afford treatment, but guess what? It’s MY money and MY sacrifice so there!

Fionn’s Pack

Nancy- mom to the FABULOUS Fionn. He rescued me in 2015 when he was 6. 

Right front leg amputation at age 7 for osteosarcoma 10/6/16. Taken too soon 6/12/17. Read about our journey here:

Durham, NC
Forum Posts: 406
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20 January 2017 - 8:39 pm
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This is a great post! I totally agree (not surprising). When I was making the agonizing decision about Izzy’s surgery, I spoke to lots of people about her situation … I took longer than I wanted to sort out what to do, but I will never forget my mom offering to drive Izzy to the vet to be put to sleep. She’s not much of a pet person and that was tough to hear (and frankly, made me a kind of mad). Now that we are 16 months post amp and I can have a sense of humor about the whole thing, I playfully tell my mom, “When you bust a hip, just keep in mind that you told me to put Izzy down when she broke her leg!” hahaha

Momma to the world's most beautiful American Bulldog, Izzy!! Lost her front leg to OSA 9/18/15. Diagnosed w MCT in June 2016. Celebrated her 1 year ampuversary with knee surgery on 9/18/16! MCT recurrence in Dec 2016. Happy & hungry til nearly 14, earning her wings on 7/31/17.

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