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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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Daisy had her hind leg removed 4 days ago. What is normal?
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Member Since:
11 August 2011
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14 August 2011 - 8:34 am
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My 4 year old Daisy had her hind leg removed 4 days ago.  She doesn't want to be around me and lays in her cage.  Before the surgery she loved to be outside and lay in the grass.  Now she doesn't even want to do that.  The only time i can get her out is if I force her to go outside to use the bathroom.  Is this normal?  What can I expect this next week and so on?  Is there a normal progression or is it different for every dog.  




Madison, WI
Member Since:
5 December 2009
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14 August 2011 - 10:40 am
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It can be quite different for each dog, but abnormal is normal this early for sure!  Usually you see them getting back to their old selves when they've got less meds in them.  The painkillers are great - essential - but they can do a number on a dog's personality.  Some more than others.  At least that's my experience from the two amputation recoveries I've been through and from reading other peoples' posts here.  

While it's hard when they don't want to be around you, it's a good thing that she wants to spend most of her time resting.  Dogs that are restless or even energetic right after surgery (which happens too) are a handful and can do themselves damage and slow their recovery that way!

My recommendation would be not to hesitate to double-check with your vet if you're not sure if something is a warning sign of a real problem or not.  After all, you probably just paid a ton for the surgery, right?  You deserve to get to bend your vet's ear as much as you want - this was MAJOR surgery.  And you don't need any more stress from wondering if things are ok or not.  But I'm sure others will chime in with good tips here too that will hopefully set your mind at ease some as well!

Good luck and welcome to Tripawds!

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at:

Dayton, OH
Member Since:
9 January 2011
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14 August 2011 - 12:02 pm
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Steve and Daisy -  Gerry's mom is right on when she writes that "abnormal is normal" this early on.  While I've read several postings about dogs that are "running" 1 or 2 days after surgery, there are many more that take weeks to slowly get back to their old way of doing things.  As long as Daisy is being quiet and simply recovering I agree that you're probably a lucky one.  Some seem to have quite the outright struggle after surgery.

As for Sylvia - She had her amputation on 11/09/10 and we actually set up an entire special "recovery" room for her, put up a gate to keep the other dogs from getting her excited or upset, and reveled in the time she spent just sleeping.  My husband and I even took turns sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to her for at least a couple of weeks, as I remember.  And I recall that she didn't want to snuggle at all.  Before surgery, if one or both of us were on the floor, we couldn't keep her away!

From what we'd read, we just planned to take things very, very slow.  It seemed to work out fantastically!  By Thanksgiving, she was getting around the house well, but we still took her outside with a sling under her belly.  Sure enough, when she was ready to get up and down the porch steps on her own, there was no doubt about it!

I know it's hard not to worry - especially when there's a personality change - but try to stay rested, calm, and positive for her.  From our experience, four days post-surgery was the time our dog was still on lots of meds and her doctor expected us to keep her quiet.  I think you're in good shape right now!

- Karen and Sweet, Silly Sylvie

P.S.  Sylvie's definitely a snuggle-aholic again!!

Sweet Silly Sylvie, the Old English Sheepdog

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma 11/04/2010 at almost 7 years of age * Left hind leg amputated 11/09/2010 * Chemo on 12/10, 12/17, 01/10, 01/31

Sweet Sylvie's earthly journey ended on Nov. 3, 2011, one day short of a year since her diagnosis and 6 days short of her one-year ampuversary.  Her family celebrates her life as a sheepdog – ever the puppy, ever silly, ever sweet – and are grateful for our 7 years together.

Orange County, CA
Member Since:
2 January 2010
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14 August 2011 - 12:27 pm
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It's a natural instinct for many dogs to remove themselves to a quiet place when injured or sick. It's an protective reflex from the times when dogs roamed in packs that might turn on a weak or injured member. Obviously that's not a danger with her in your home, but in spite of the fact that Daisy's only "pack" is you and your family, the instinct remains. Don't worry about it for now. Let her do as she wishes if it helps - the most important thing Daisy needs at the moment is sleep. Watch over her, let her know you love her, but let her be after that. Karen's suggestion to simply be nearby is a good one - Daisy will know you're there, and she can come to you when she's ready. If it's only been four days, you have about four weeks to go before things get back to a semblance of normal. Grit your teeth and bear it - just know that it will pass.

Member Since:
11 August 2011
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14 August 2011 - 2:14 pm
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Thank you everyone I am very thankful of your replies and for this site.  I feel like i am kind of lost.  I am a single guy and its just her and I .  I want to do everything I can to make it better for her.

Leicester, NY
Member Since:
23 August 2010
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14 August 2011 - 2:30 pm
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1st-welcome to Tripawds!

2nd- Great name !winker

I agree with everyone that has  posted-she just underwent major surgery and 4 days is a short time, especially when she is still on meds.  Does she have cancer or was the amputation for another reason? How about a picture of Daisy? 

We are all here for you so feel free to ask, she will be up and around in no time.

Daisy earned her wings on Oct 22, 2011 at 14 years old

She is now the official greeter at the rainbow bridge

Everyone is guaranteed a welcome sniff and Dalmatian smile

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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14 August 2011 - 2:33 pm
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Steve, welcome.

Keep in mind that four days is not a lot of time. While every dog is indeed different in how they recuperate, most dogs need at least two weeks until they start to show signs of feeling better. the best thing you can do is try not to dote too much and help her get back to her normal routine. be a strong pack leader and remember that she will pick up on your energy. If you believe she will do great, she WILL!

To learn what to expect, please see our Required Reading List &/or our e-book, "Three Legs & A Spare," where we answer tons of questions and share the community's knowledge about life on three legs.

How come she had her leg removed?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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14 August 2011 - 2:39 pm
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Hi Steve and Daisy, Abby was exactly like you describe Daisy for quite some time after her surgery. She very much "wanted to be alone" and would go out and "hide" in our yard behind a big potted plant. I didn't see her really starting to be her old self again until about 10 to 14 days in. But after that she was ready and raring to go!

Definitely come here when you need support or have more questions. Lots of great people on the site with good info and everyone knows what you are going through!

All the best,
Jackie, 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!

Member Since:
27 May 2011
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15 August 2011 - 10:38 am
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Sleep for me 4 days in would have been great Dizzy was restless and altough coping well in general moving around the nights were hard she just wouldn't settle. She did snuggle with us but each dog is different but if she can safely do things for herself she should we were very aware of not wrapping Dizzy up in cotton wool. Give he a week or so and she will be snuggling again. Very glad you found the site as to me it has proved invaluable, there is always someone willing to share their experience.

If you feel the need ring the vet or go see them they have more knowledge of what is normal after the surgery than you do.

Dizzy diagnosed with osteosarcoma 24 may 2011 amputated same day doing fine hopping around on three legs giving the neighbourhood cats what for

Golden Girls
15 August 2011 - 1:04 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds! Previous posts here all have excellent bits of advice. I just wanted to also encourage you that Daisy will improve each day. Make sure you get lots of rest, and just be there for her. Please keep us posted on her recovery, and post some pics when you can. We are all here to help you (except for that out for him...LOL)


Member Since:
19 June 2011
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15 August 2011 - 1:27 pm
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I echo what everyone else has written.  Hope was so high on drugs and her pain patch that she couldn't even get up or walk on her own for a few days.  The meds also messed up her "plumbing," so she also had a few accidents in the house (keep a pad under her, just in case).  After the patch came off and she was off meds, she looked like she felt better and has been improving a little bit every day since then.  Her amp was on 6-17.

This group has been a huge support system for me--they've "been there, done that," and their experience is invaluable.  When Daisy is resting, take some time to read blogs, check out the discussion groups, or join the live chat; you WILL find comfort there.  This is the most compassionate group of people you would ever want to meet and so very, very willing to help you.

Member Since:
16 January 2011
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15 August 2011 - 6:48 pm
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Hello Steve & Daisy -

I have to agree with everyone else - Daisy's behavior is pretty much normal when it comes to major surgery and mega drugs...

Dogs don't understand the pink elephants in purple tutu's dancing in front of their eyes that burst into flames when they see zebra's doing cartwheels...

Most of the pain relievers also cause huge depression in the dogs too which they don't understand either....Don't take anything Daisy does too personally - once she is off the meds - she will be back to her old self again.....

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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15 August 2011 - 7:02 pm
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It is hard to anticipate how each one will react to the recovery and to the medications. Many have bad reactions to the medication that makes them really not themselves. Generally they are weaned off the meds somewhere between 10 - 14 days and life starts to return to normal.

Unless Daisy seems to be in pain, has an infection you can see, runs a fever, or otherwise seems to need veterinary attention, just be patient with her. She will come around.

Also don't hesitate to consult your vet if you aren't comfortable. He/she should be able to put your mind at ease.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

15 August 2011 - 9:59 pm
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Hello. Sounds normal to me. My Valentina was still in the hospital at 4 days but I did go and visit her and she definitely was not herself. She was very very tired and seemed very drugged up. I think she was happy to see me but I think she was just too wiped out from the surgery. When I got too close in her face she would back away and even kind of jump. I think the meds made her weirded out. The vet kept her for 5 days because he said he wanted her to be up and walking around well before I took her home. He wanted me to be able to handle her ok because she is a 150lb Great Dane. She did loads of sleeping for the first few weeks. I would keep going to her throughout the day and sitting next to her for a few minutes and petting and talking to her. And then I would give her some space. I did sleep on a blow up mattress next to her at night for a while just to make sure everything was ok. It did take alot of coaxing at first to get her to get up and go outside. My husband and I both had to almost hoist her up. I eventually would just pat her butt and say "Get Up!" and somehow she understood that and started to get up. Goin out was very hard at first. She fell to the ground many times. She just wasn't strong enough to hold up her big body at first. We did use a sheet to help her and it was still hard with me and my husband holding her. She even fell right in her poop a couple of times and peed while lying down!! And our neighbors were watching us struggle to hold her up while she tried to squat and would just sink to the ground. Sometimes she didn't even want to get up for 10 or so minutes after she laid in the grass.  Each day she got better at that though. It was a hard road but worth it. It just takes time. Hang in there. It will get better. Daisy just needs lots and lots of rest. What kind of dog is Daisy? Praying for you and Daisy for rest and healing!!   smile

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 August 2009
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15 August 2011 - 11:05 pm
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Welcome Daisy and, of course Steve!



Sorry you find yourself here but what the heck happened???????!!!!!  What kind of dog are you?  Maybe you can get your dad re-upload your pic in the avatar and this time use the "alternative upload" button instead!  Right now, you are solid black and not that we aren't all partial to black because it makes us look thinner, but a pic of yourself would be nicer!

Let us know YOUR STORY!


In the meantime, sending you lots of healing wishes!

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

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