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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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Deuce may need amputation, scared mom!
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Member Since:
29 November 2018
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29 November 2018 - 8:45 pm
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Im new to the forum. Last week I got the most horrific call of my life. Someone had opened my locked gate, my three dogs got out, and my nightmare begun. My best friend Halo, a German Sheprard was killed, and my chocolate lab, Deuce was injured. They were both hot by a car ( the same car).  Deuce sustained severe injuires. Thank god he is still with us…. it appears he has irreversible neurological damage. The damage affects ra his front left leg. Deuce is a 23 month old, 98 lb. chocolate lab. He is one of the happiest dogs I have ever had. If the nerve damage doesn’t reverse itself, the only option is amputation. The part that upsets me is that my vet did say front leg amps on larger dogs don’t tend to be that successful and are hard on the dog. Deuce is not a overweight dog, he is just big. I’m reading other places that many dogs do ok at his size with front leg amputation. Can anyone lend some advice, experience, knowledge, support, and suggestions. I’m so scared and want to do what’s best for Deuce and his quality of life. Thanks 

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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29 November 2018 - 11:47 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m so sorry, what a horrible thing to happen.  I’m sorry for your loss of Halo.

It is true that a front amp is harder for dogs in general, but we have had many large and giant dogs do fine with a front amp.  My friend Cemil recently passed after more than 9 years as a front amp, he was a 150 pound Anatolian Shepard. Life is definitely different, and as a younger pup not facing cancer you will need to regulate Deuce’s activities to some extent.  Different doesn’t mean bad though!  There are lots of Tripawd friendly activities to keep a pup fit, engaged and happy.  Swimming, Nose Work, food games and puzzles, and Rally are just a few off the top of my head.  You don’t have to compete- you can do most all of these at home.

If you haven’t already you should check out our Size and Age Matters Fourm– lots of stories there on big dogs rocking life on three. 

I’ve only had rear amp pups, both of them together would weigh less than 35 pounds so I can’t help you with direct experience.  But stay tuned for input from other members who have had large front amps.

Best case would of course be that Deuce would make a full recovery.  Does he have other injuries?  If it is determined that the leg won’t recover than you should consider a consult with a orthopedic surgeon who could evaluate him as a candidate for amputation. It’s unfortunate that your vet told you a large dog can’t do well… it’s definitely not what we see here.

Keep us posted on how Deuce is doing, and with any other questions we can help you with.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Minneapolis, MN
Member Since:
23 April 2016
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30 November 2018 - 7:49 am
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So sorry – what a horrible thing you have been through and are still going through. A nightmare – I am so sorry you lost Halo in such a needless way due to someone else’s carelessness.

Pofi was a large, senior front amputee – he had a nerve sheath tumor which meant the front leg had atrophied and he was really not weight bearing.  He did just fine.  Deuce is a young dog and I am sure he will adjust if amputation becomes necessary- but you will want to be cognizant of keeping him trim and strong. 

Sending love to Deuce.  heart 

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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30 November 2018 - 10:12 am
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Oh my gosh my condolences about Halo, and I’m so sorry that you are dealing with Deuce’s injuries. How awful! I hope the people stopped to help at the scene?

Meanwhile, I would get another opinion from a different vet. 98 pounds is not the biggest front leg amputee we’ve ever seen here, some have been over 150 pounds! And they did just fine. As Karen said, their life was different but no less happier or fun. Find another vet who will advocate for your wishes, because judging a dog by their size in these circumstances is an outdated way of thinking. Let us know if you’d like help finding a vet in your area.

Also, you may want to consider an evaluation with a canine rehab therapist. We have been told by rehab therapists that a minimum of three to six months should be devoted to PT in this situation, to find out if the dog can regain mobility. So don’t jump the gun on amputation too soon. If you’d like help finding a therapist let us know. Oh and the best part is the Tripawd Foundation may even pay for your first rehab visit !

I hope this helps give you hope. We’re glad you joined us, and are here for you and your sweet Deuce.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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1 December 2018 - 9:58 pm
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Just want to add my best wishes to you and Deuce.  You’ve  had quite a stressful time, that’s  for sure.  I’m  just glad that Deuce is going to be okay….either as a four legger, or a three legger!

If amputation  does become necessary, we are here to help you through the recovery and onto Deuce livi6 a full and happy life!!!

Stay connected  and update when you can.


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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