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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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Forum Posts: 11
Member Since:
9 January 2013
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10 January 2013 - 6:24 am
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I also want to ask a question and get some support. My dobbie got his leg amputated last Friday (cancer). He was moving along fine when we got him home Sunday thru Tuesday. Yesterday and today he REALLY seems in the dumps. He refuses to play tug of war-chew his ball and when I take him outside he just SITS. Is he depresssed Or the MEDS have him? It is breaking our hearts. I think he knows he now has three legs. My daughter this morning is questioning the family decision to have the surgery. I think it was the right thing to do

Columbia, MO
Forum Posts: 483
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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10 January 2013 - 7:15 am
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What you are describing sounds perfectly normal.  Your pup just had major surgery a week ago and his body is recovering.  They also start using their muscles in different ways than ever before to compensate for the missing limb and get tired really quick.  It'll be at least two weeks (usually when staples/stitches come out) before you start seeing their personalities come back.  They are doped up on pain meds when they come home and sometimes act pretty spunky at first and then crash.  Ups and downs are normal.  I couldn't get my Daisy off the couch for the first week or so other than going out for potty breaks which was ok since the vet didn't want her to have any other activity for two weeks. She had zero interest in anything.  I even had to hand feed her on the couch. She refused to eat her regular food so it was a steady diet of boiled chicken and hot dogs in the beginning.

Trust me that we all questioned whether we did the right thing during the recovery.  Just remember you took away that awful pain from his cancerous leg.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

Forum Posts: 11
Member Since:
9 January 2013
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10 January 2013 - 7:19 am
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Thanks I feel I did  and my spirits are good I am feeding him by hand too, thank you. this is a great site for support. God knows we need it

Orange County, CA
Forum Posts: 1185
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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10 January 2013 - 9:13 am
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Yep, the meds could definitely be affecting his mood/personality, along with the fact he just had a major surgery.  Every dog is different.  Our Max took about 4.5 weeks before we saw his "normal" personality come back.  Good luck and come back frequently for questions, we've all been there!

San Diego, CA
Forum Posts: 2503
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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11 January 2013 - 3:33 pm
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Our Abby seemed SO depressed for a while after her surgery. She didn't even want to be with us in the same room. (this from a dog that was always by my side.)

Once your pup is off the meds you should see a big improvement and his old personality coming back!

Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Rock Hill, SC
Forum Posts: 875
Member Since:
28 November 2011
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11 January 2013 - 5:16 pm
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Ditto to the posts above.  Although Zeus never seemed truly depressed, we didn't see our boy return to normal for about a month after surgery.  He tweaked his back about 1.5 weeks after amp and we had to keep him on the pain meds about two weeks longer than normal.  Once he recovered from the strained back and we weaned him off the meds we saw a big difference.

It's not unusual at all for the dogs to crash a few days after they come home.  I think when they first get home they are running on adrenaline (not to mention the IV pain meds that the dogs get at the vets - which are way more powerful than what they come home with - are still in their system).

Keep in mind that this is HUGE surgery.  As much as all of us talk about how quickly the dogs recover (and it IS quick considering how long we as humans would take to bounce back after an amputation!), it isn't instant.  Try to celebrate the baby steps and before you know it things really will be back to normal.

Good luck with the rest of recovery!


Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...

11 January 2013 - 5:53 pm
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My little pug Maggie had me questioning my decision to amputate.  She was really unhappy for about 4 weeks, spent most of that time in her bed.  No medical complications, just an obstinate pug. She came around on her own time line.

I think the average around here is two weeks for a bounce back to their old selves.  Some lucky pups bounce back faster. There seems to be quite a turn around when the stitches come out and the pain meds are done, which often coincides with about 2 weeks.

Remember- not only was this a huge surgery, but tripawds expend lots more energy getting around, and new tripawds aren't used to the extra exertion.

We would love to see some pictures of Baron.


Karen and the pugapalooza


Forum Posts: 200
Member Since:
18 October 2012
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13 January 2013 - 6:49 pm
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Just like everyone said above, this is normal for most dogs.  I think the first couple of weeks during recovery is when most people doubt the decision they made.  Cadence was our shadow prior to the amp.  The first few days she was like her old self then she crashed. Cadence would go in to another  room and just want to be by herself.  It was hard for me not to follow her in there, but I gave her the space she needed.   In our case, it was the medication she was on.  Once your Baron is off the medication,  you will see the pep back in his step.  I know right now you are thinking it wont happen.  But take my word for it, once Cadence was off the pain killers she was back to her spunky and silly self.  The hardest thing is the waiting, but it will be well worth it.  Baron will adjust to life on three legs and you will once again be smiling.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.” ― Milan Kundera

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