TRIPAWDS: Home to 19892 Members and 1995 Blogs.

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.

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:

  • Instant post approval.
  • Private messages to members.
  • Subscribe to favorite topics.
  • Live Chat and much more!


Be More DogWhat 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.

Please consider registering
Forum Scope


Forum Options

Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
Register Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon-c
Dakota facing amputation
sp_NewTopic Add Topic
Member Since:
16 February 2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16 February 2011 - 7:42 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Dakota got hit by a car today and severed her right hind leg.  No bones were broken, but her ligaments were severely damaged.  The vet advises that these wounds will take about 2 months to heal (ultimately may not) and then she will be faced with ortho surgery to repair the ligaments.  Vet has suggested amputation as the more humane procedure (quicker recovery and less pain).  I am so torn with what to do and would truly appreciate any advice that you seasoned Tripawd lovers can share.

Mount Pleasant, Ia
Member Since:
27 October 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16 February 2011 - 7:58 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

we are certainly sorry to hear of Dakotas accident. But you have picked a good place to come for encouragement and advice. Whatever you decide for Dakota will be the right choice, many of us here have already learned that amputation isnt as bad a word as it sounds at first. The dogs most all seem to do very well and adapt to it and I think most of us pawrents here have had a much stronger bond form with our furkids after the amputation. please keep us posted on how things are going for Dakota.



Coopsdad/ Kenneth Blackburn

the monkeydogs only THINK they have invaded the tripawd state

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16 February 2011 - 7:59 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Looks like we just missed you in the chat. Sorry to hear about Dakota, but we're glad you found us.

It is true, repair of ligaments and nerve damage is possible, but long and hard. Many people often put their dogs through multiple painful expensive suregeries trying to "save the leg" only to amputate any way, so we recommend following your vet's advice.

Dogs are extremely resilient creatures, and most bounce back from amputation quickly, and quite literally. You'll find lots of recovery and care tips in Jerry's Required Reading List, and for immediate answers to the most common dog amputation questions download the new Tripawds e-book Three Legs and A Spare.

Many new members have also found the book Without Regret to be very helpful in coping with the difficult decisions you face. Best of luck, please keep us posted.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Kirkland, WA
Member Since:
9 November 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16 February 2011 - 8:00 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

I wouldn't hesitate for a second.  My tripawd had a rare form of cancer in her hind leg.  She suffered in pain for 2 years, she's so happy now that she's pain free and you'd never know the leg was gone.  There are some considerations such as back issues and increased wear and tear on the remaining leg, but you would have similar problems with a leg that severely damaged and a MUCH longer recovery time.  Here's Kess just 17 days post-op  


Kess had her right rear leg removed.  Before the amputation she was a champion flyball dog, frisbee dog, and trained in herding and agility.  We still compete in frisbee and have just started back up with agility.  We have to be a little more careful in cautious in some regards, but Kess is still the crazy dog she was before.


I wont lie the first 2 weeks are rough.  As a mother I can say it's very similar to having a newborn baby.  I slept downstairs next to an x-pen with the dog in it, and occasionally slept in the pen with Kess.  I had to wake up multiple times per night to give Kess scheduled doses of medication, and to make her comfortable etc.  I didn't leave the house for more than 30min or so for the first 10 days.  I didn't start the blog until a bit after Kess's amputation so there's not much info on the first couple of weeks, but you can get an idea of how quickly she recovered

16 February 2011 - 8:07 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hello and welcome to Tripawds.

I'm sorry you have found yourself here- but since you are faced with this decision this is a great place to be.

Amputation is a big surgery with risks- most I know of have made it through fine- a few don't.  But it sounds like you are facing surgery no matter what you do so that is probably not a factor for you to consider.

I would suggest you look through Jerry's Required Reading list for info on what to expect with amputation and recovery.

From my experience, and what I know from being here awhile is that most dogs do just fine on three legs.  You may have to modify some activities, but you guys are not facing cancer which is a plus. 

How old is Dakota?  Maybe in a very young dog it would be worth trying to save the leg?  But if the vet is already suggesting surgery that might mean that the chances of saving the leg are very slim?  If you did try and save the leg how long would her activities be curtailed?  How would she handle being crated or restricted for several months?  With amputation Dakota would probably be well on her way to her old self in just a few weeks.

For many of us the first two weeks or so after surgery were difficult-
lots of ups and downs as our pups dealt with recovery, lots of meds and
learning new balance.  It varies a little- some seem to sail right
through and are back to their old selves in no time.  Some like my
Maggie took their time to adapt.  Maggie did adapt and thrived as a
tri-pug for almost 4 years.

You know Dakota best so you have to decide what is best for her.  We are here to help with whatever you decide.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Member Since:
16 February 2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16 February 2011 - 8:26 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Thank you so much for your kind words.  Dakota is 2 yrs old and a vary active dog.   I don't think she could handle the crating for too long, especially since her play pal, Cowboy is in the house too.  I will definitely read your recommended article and hope to gain some great tips on how to handle my three legged beauty.

Leicester, NY
Member Since:
23 August 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
17 February 2011 - 3:51 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost


We are very sorry to hear about your accident. Daisy too was hit by a car. We tried to save the leg but after 7 days the skin started to die off and we ended up amputating the leg anyway. In my case (and hindsight being 20/20) I wish we would have amputated 1st. She would have been on the road to recovery sooner. She was rolled pretty good and had deep cuts on her pads and her tail was broken but torso and head were spared. Please keep us updated.

Julie, Bob, tripawd Daisy and brother Samson

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

Member Since:
28 May 2008
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19 February 2011 - 9:50 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

I'm so sorry to hear about Dakota's accident crying but you have found the perfect place for support, information, encouragement, honestly and love.


I was petrified when faced with the decision to amputate. Zeus had cancer, so time was of the essence to decide treatment. After days of information gathering and soul searching and yes...conversations with Zeus, we amputated 6 days after diagnosis. I took pictures of him the day before surgery and 2 days after surgery and I truly had no idea how much pain he was in until I went back and looked at those pictures. It was so evident on his face and in his behavior. I found after my decision was based on doctor's advice and my heart and a leap of faith. I wasn't sure if he would live a "full life" and had it in back of my mind that if he didn't adjust to 3 legs, I could always let him go, but I wanted to try.


He amazed me in life and still does in my memory. The way he ran around and chased the ball on 3 legs...jumping in and out of the car, chewed sticks and did pretty much everything he used to do. I never expected him to be such a HAPPY dog on 3 legs. You wouldn't think it eh? Dogs are so resilient and live life so much in the moment, they just don't care about any obstacles...they just overcome. I would do it all over again - those 18 months were the most meaningful ones of my life so far - walking (or hopping in this case) that journey with him. I learned so much and loved so much. Gifts without a price.


You will be amazed at what Dakota can do on 3 legs and you don't have the cancer diagnosis to deal with. Listen to your heart and listen to Dakota. They will tell you what to do.We are here to support you every step of the way. Keep us posted.


Much love and many hugs,

Heather and Spirit Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

Forum Timezone: America/Denver
Most Users Ever Online: 946
Currently Online:
Guest(s) 87
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 1180
Members: 14830
Moderators: 2
Admins: 3
Forum Stats:
Groups: 4
Forums: 23
Topics: 17528
Posts: 244247
Administrators: admin, jerry, Tripawds
Moderators: betaman, krun15
Tripawds is brought to you by Tripawds.