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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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new member daisydogger seeks advice
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Vancouver, BC
Forum Posts: 20
Member Since:
22 January 2011
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22 January 2011 - 4:22 pm
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It's my first weekend home as well. Daisy cam home on the same day but we're happy about it that way we can all cuddle. Phantom pains haven't started but I am nervously awaiting them. We fought a year long battle with several surgeries to keep her leg and in the end amputation was the best choice. Daisy already has her moments of playing and running again but easily tires. I don't want her over doing it but want to keep her happy. Any advice anyone can give me would be much appreciated. At least the crying isn't as constant but still comes and goes. This site has been a major help and I don't know what I would have done without all these stories.


Thanks everyone


Daisy and her mom

Here and Now

Forum Posts: 12472
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25 April 2007
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22 January 2011 - 6:06 pm
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daisydogger said:

Phantom pains haven't started but I am nervously awaiting them.

Follow Daisy's lead and try to more pawsitive. And please share more about her story.

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.

Welcome, and thank you for joining the club nobody wants to join.

Madison, WI
Forum Posts: 616
Member Since:
5 December 2009
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22 January 2011 - 6:20 pm
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Hi Daisy's mom!


I've been through two amputations with two different dogs.  You'd think I'd feel like an expert after both - but nope!  The second one reminded me what already becomes pretty clear from reading posts here, recoveries can really vary.  Still, after both, I ought to be able to offer SOME piece of mind for you.


Daisy may not get phantom limb pains at all!  Both mine did - I think (it's not always clear and some vets will try to tell you dogs can't get phantom limb pain - pphaw!).  But I know from reading other people's stories here, some dogs never go through it.  So, if you can, don't waste your energy dreading them.  And if she does get them, call up your vet and ask about getting some gabepentin (sp?) and that has done the trick for every dog I've read about here who have tried it.  Hopefully you know about phantom limb pain, because your vet is one who won't argue over whether phantom limb pain in dogs exists or not.


The constant crying - yay that it's getting better! - is common and hopefully your vet told you that it's a common side effect of the pain meds (well, depending on which kind Daisy got - I think it was supposed to be the Fentanyl patch that made my Yoda whine pretty constantly the first 1-2 days home) rather than a sign of pain.


If the incision hasn't healed yet, you probably want to discourage the running and playing til the stitches/staples come out.  But hurray that she already feels good enough to want to!!!


And the best advice for you is to get plenty of sleep!!!  That is so hard when they're recovering and it feels like there are a million things to worry about going wrong and you want to watch her 24/7.  But think of it as setting a good example for Daisy and get rest! big-grin   And if you should eventually find something truly wrong, you don't want to be too exhausted to drive her to the vet, right?


Welcome to you and Daisy!!!  Hang in there and enjoy all the pawesome advice from the others that is sure to follow.  They're all so cool cool

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:

Forum Posts: 696
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22 January 2011 - 7:00 pm
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Hi Daisy and Mom,

 My dog Tasha did not have any phantom pains, but she did do a lot of low crying. She had two really uncomfortabledays around days 4 & 5 where the vet had me increase her pain meds, then on day 6 she was able to return to her regular amount of pain meds. Tasha stopped taking her pain meds on day 9 and at that the time she stopped all the low crying that she had been doing.  I know now that most of her crying was due to a side affect of the meds.

  The first two weeks can be so hard to get through but once the stitches come out then things just seem to get better and more amazing everyday!

  I hope Daisy continues with a speedy and uneventful recovery!


 Jo Ann & Tasha

Tasha 8 years old, First cancer diagnosis 6/26/09, Last cancer diagnosis 9/26/09, Amputation 10/01/09, Loving our girl moment by moment.

Tasha lost her battle and became my Angel on May 4 2011. Forever in my heart….

Northeastern PA
Forum Posts: 116
Member Since:
19 September 2010
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22 January 2011 - 9:46 pm
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Welcome, Daisy.

Zack also never experienced phantom pains. The first night we brought him home broke our hearts - his crying was nearly constant and sounded so pathetic & sad. But, he was much better each day, and started sleeping through by the third night. He would still whine (not really cry) after that, but that's because he was training us to be at his beck and call (ha!)

I know others have said it, but there will be ups & downs the first few weeks, but it gets a little better every day.

Zack, King of Dogs, 1996 to 2010

Zack lived a full 14 years, even to the end.

The joy and memories he provided us will last a lifetime.

Surviving him is his sister, Izzy, a 12-year-old boxer mix quadpawd.
And the latest addition, Zula, an 11-month-old pit bull mix tripawd.

Vancouver, BC
Forum Posts: 20
Member Since:
22 January 2011
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23 January 2011 - 12:52 am
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You guys have all been sooo helpful. I agree the first night was the worst. Daisy slept in my bed and between my worrying and her "crying" I got no sleep. I am so happy to say the crying has stopped. My vet has only given us metacam. I thought that would be enough as Daisy doesn't like drugs but reading everyone's post I'm going to ask for something more. She is very tough but I don't want her to be in pain. She seems to be doing better than I am. I still sometimes look at her and cry and have to leave the room as I don't want her to see me cry.  The guilt and upset I feel is horrible. I'm sure I'm not the only one there. 


Daisy occasionally be fine than twitch and look at her leg but no whining and we are on day 3 so I hope this is it. 


I know I have said it before but I can't thank everyone on this sight for their comfort and advice. You all have truly helped embrace Daisy's new life as a tripawd. 


T shirts, aprons, and coffee cups are going to be coming to my house soon


Thank you everyone


Courteney and more importantly Daisy

Forum Posts: 707
Member Since:
14 April 2010
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23 January 2011 - 9:17 am
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Welcome to the family. If I had to say there are more dogs that don't have phantom pain than do. Gus had it, his started about day 5, and when his started you knew it, he would yelp at the top of his lungs, lasted about 4 weeks and was more of a small whimper by then, but I wouldn't waste time worrying about it, you are going to find out on this journey there will be ups and downs, so you ride it out and take each day as it comes, if it happens then you deal with it. Gabapentin was the med we used for it and had good results, it won't stop it, I think it helps dampen it. Sounds to me like your on a normal recovery so far, good luck, paws up, Spirit Gus and, If you get a chance for some sleep, better take it, these first 2 weeks the days sort of run together at timessleepyway-confusedway-confusedsleepy

My buddy Gus had a left front amputation on April 7, 2010 and lived a great life until July 26,2010

Snohomish, Washington
Forum Posts: 157
Member Since:
11 March 2010
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23 January 2011 - 9:25 am
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Hi Courteney - Lincoln didn't have any phantom pain , but he was pretty withdrawn and snooty while he was on the Fentanyl patch. I think the bottom line, is that each dog is going to be different. I prepared for the worst, and it really wasn't too bad at all (easy for me to say, as I didn't go through a surgery). Lincoln isn't afraid to whine or whimper when he's in pain, and we didn't get any at all.

He was up and around immediately, rolling in the grass within the week, and swimming the day his staples were removed.

I'll echo what everyone else has said; get some sleep when you can. As uneventful as Lincoln's recovery was, I still slept downstairs with him, and by the end of the two weeks, I was pretty exhausted.

Hopefully things stay calm for you. Best of luck.

Lincoln's Mom

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall – Confucius

Las Vegas, Nevada
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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23 January 2011 - 1:07 pm
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Welcome Daisy and mom!

First let me just say, what a beautiful little girl you have! 

I've gone though amputation but I just wanted to stop by and wish you a very speedy recovery.   The first few days are especially hard.  Everyone here has cried bucket loads of tears at first.  But your tears will disappear and she recovers.


Here is a video that I think will put a smile on your face.  It's our sweet Mackenzie who just recently ended her journey BUT gosh we had a lot of fun watching her throughout the last year!



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.

23 January 2011 - 1:16 pm
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Hello Courteney and Daisy,

Welcome to the club you never could have imagined you would need to join!!

She seems to be doing better than I am. I still sometimes look at her
and cry and have to leave the room as I don't want her to see me cry.
 The guilt and upset I feel is horrible. I'm sure I'm not the only one

I think if you read most posts here its us two leggers that have the hardest time with all of this.  My pug Maggie lost her leg before this site was in existence.  There were many times that I thought I had done the wrong thing for her.  But I finally realized that it was only me missing what she couldn't do anymore, and only me worrying about how she would cope.  She didn't care, she was busy being her obstinate pug self.

On the exercise- Mag was not too rambunctious, she was 7.5 years old at amputation, and while she was doing chemo she was kind of tired.  But she eventually built up to walking a mile or more on her own (remember- little pug legs!).

Remember that all pups heal at their own rate, and you know her best.  If she still has sutures or staples you should limit her a bit so the incision heals up.

Good luck as you get through this healing stage.  Daisy will amaze you everyday!


Karen and the pugapalooza

Forum Posts: 1216
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23 January 2011 - 4:56 pm
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I want to second what Karen said about it being us two leggers that have the hardest time with amputation.  Our dogs don't have the same emotional hang ups that we do.  In addition, they still have three remaining legs. or as Jerry describes it they have three legs and a spare.  

Bringing Daisy home on the first day of amputation was probably very hard,  I know that you wanted her home with you but I don't know how many of us are emotionally equipped to see our babies coming off the anesthesia.. Emily's surgeon said that the dog's often whimper while coming off of it.

Anyway, welcome to tripawds.  We will be looking forward to hearing about Daisy's progress.


Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.

Kirkland, WA
Forum Posts: 120
Member Since:
9 November 2010
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24 January 2011 - 8:48 am
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Sounds like daisy might benefit from more painkillers.  My Kess is only 3 months post amp but she has not shown any phantom pain .  Still tries to scratch her head w/non-existent leg, but that's all.


Kess was on 3 different painkillers.  Metacam, tramdol, and cephalex.  Allthough I think one of those was some sort of neuro blocker or something.  The first could of weeks are tough and I think most of the members here spent some time sleeping on the floor with their dogs in those early weeks.


Chin up . . . it will get better.  It's just like having an 80lb newborn for a couple of weeks.

Golden Girls
24 January 2011 - 10:00 am
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Welcome to Tripawds. Skyler never had the phantom pain , but she did cry alot the first night. After that she was ok, but was restless from trying to find a comfortable way to sleep. The first 2 weeks are the hardest, so make sure you get lots of rest. Can't wait to see more pics of your pup. She is beautiful!


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