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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 Tripawd Mommy Here And I'm Terrified!
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Norene, TN
Forum Posts: 1072
Member Since:
21 October 2014
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21 October 2014 - 7:15 pm
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My Harmony became a Tripawd today. Not only did she lose her front foreleg to MCT, but also her spleen.

I’m absolutely terrified. Terrified to bring her home. Terrified of her pain and suffering. Terrified that I’ve maimed this creation of God and loyal companion. Terrified I won’t or can’t live up to the support she’ll need to get back on her feet, I mean paws.

Chemo is to follow, but right now I only want to get through the next few days or weeks and get my girl back to some semblance of normalcy.

I don’t know when we (the hub-a-dub and myself) will be able to pick her up, but I do know, I’ve got to get a handle on things so that I can be the rock of support she needs (and deserves) from me.

. . . (deep breathing) . . .

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

Livermore, CA

Forum Posts: 4009
Member Since:
18 October 2009
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21 October 2014 - 8:04 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

You have not maimed Harmony- you have given her a chance for more quality time with you and your pack.

The mast cell was in her spleen? How about lymph nodes and bone marrow?  Be sure you get the mitotic index from the tumor removed with her leg.

I unfortunately have lots of experience with black dogs and MCTs.  My pug Maggie lost her left rear leg to a MCT, and had several more cutaneous tumors.  Mag’s little sis Tani has had many cutaneous MCTs, I stopped counting at 11.

You can read about Maggie and her treatment in her blog- the links are in my signature below.

Deep breathing is a good place to start.  I know well how scary and devastating the diagnosis is, most here do.  We will help any way we can.

You can start answering your questions with Jerry’s Required Reading List or download one of the E-Books Available Here.  

Remember, you are doing these things FOR Harmony!


Karen and Spirit Maggie

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

Forum Posts: 781
Member Since:
1 February 2013
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21 October 2014 - 8:31 pm
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Welcome Harmony and family-

Sorry about all that is happening, but know that everything you are doing is out of love. Karen has asked all the questions I had. What type of chemo are they going to use?

We all know what you are feeling and second thoughts are the norm. Know that we are here to help you and support you. 

There are a few of us on here that have dealt with MCT so can hopefully answer most questions.

Take care and keep us updated.

Luanne and Spirit Shooter

Spirit Shooter was a Miniature Australian Shepherd who was diagnosed with a MCT and had a LF amp 1/28/13 at 13-1/2 years old. 

Shooter crossed the Bridge on 8/28/13, his 7 month ampuversary and two weeks from his 14th birthday.

Madison, WI
Forum Posts: 616
Member Since:
5 December 2009
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21 October 2014 - 9:03 pm
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The first couple weeks can be really really rough, but if all she’s missing is a leg and a spleen, she’s going to get around just fine!  You gotta make a deal with yourself not to panic or judge yourself for the decision to amputate for at least the first two weeks.  Wait until that incision is healed!  And as far as supporting her, it is going to be a learning experience.  The fact that you CARE enough to be FREAKED is the hugest most important thing working in he favor!clapclapclap

Gerry has been lucky so far with MCT (knock wood).  It’s not how he lost his leg – that was injury – but he had a grade 2 tumor removed a couple years ago from his belly.  We may have a second one currently, same general area on his belly.  First appeared last week, but didn’t raise my alarms until last night (had been flat like just a little skin irritation, but last night it was a bit raised).  The vet aspirated it today and couldn’t find any mast cells when she aspirated, but she was still very concerned by the look of it and the location.  She doesn’t get like that normally (Gerry gets all kinds of lumps and bumps – most benign), so we’re getting the little bump removed asap – this Thursday.  How dare I be nervous about that little thing with all these new pups facing amputations and the like?

Kick some cancer butt, Harmony!!!

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:

Los Angeles, CA
Forum Posts: 3554
Member Since:
13 June 2013
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21 October 2014 - 9:14 pm
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My girl, Shelby, lost her spleen first, started chemo and then lost her leg. She had a different kind of cancer but she did great! Until it was her time but let’s not go there!!! 

I know how scary this whole journey but we are all here for you. The recovery might be rough but be prepared for that. Harmony will read your energy so if you are positive and upbeat, she will be as well! It’s hard (I know) but try and stay strong! It really helped me and Shelby … truly! 

Ask us any questions … this nation will 100% support you and there is a collective wealth of wisdom here!


Alison with the Spirit of Shelby fur-ever in her heart (and little Jasper too)

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife


Forum Posts: 20099
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21 October 2014 - 10:02 pm
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Beautiful name and beautiful dog!!

Yeah, let’s start with the B R E A T H I N G. B R E A T H E…….B R E A T H E………B R E A T H E………good job!

Chunk everything down right now, okay? Don’t worry about follow up treatments right now. Lets just take it one day at a time, okay?

Youwill be amazed at how quickly Harmony adjusts to being a tripawd! Yeah, you have a double whammy recovery going on…pretty major surgery. I would assume Harmony will be pretty drugged out for a few days and not feeling a thing…..seeing a few pink elephants though!!

We understand the sheer fear, the second guessing, the panic and uncertainty! We also understand the need to maintain a strong confident pack leader status with Harmony. So you come here and ventnand scream and cry all you want! We get it and wenjave all done it! By leaning on us, it helps you stay steady and calm fro Harmony.

You are, most likely, going to have a pretty rough couple of weeks. Recovery for just the amputation al o ne is no picnic. And thennyiunjave the spleen surgery on top of that. It was almost three weeks before my Happy Hannah started getting her sparkle back. It’s already bee said, but its worth repeating….. REMEMBER, you are doing this FOR Harmony…not TO her!

As Karen said, Read Jerry’s e-books and prepare yourself, and y our house as best y ou can. If you hardwood floors, yo u’ll want to pt down scatter rugs to prevent slipping.

And store up on lots and lots of CHOCOLATE! It is a requirement!!

Let us know when the vet says you can bring her home…….we’ll be right here to supportnyou! You are not alone, okay?

Wrapping you up in hugs! And sending you somez zzzzzzzs…..get sleep now….you may have a few restless nights when Harmony comes home!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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!

Forum Posts: 354
Member Since:
18 June 2014
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22 October 2014 - 4:54 am
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Sorry you are here but….there is no better place on earth.   Just remember that when you see Harmony for the first time, look in to her eyes, ignore the amp.  You will see that she will guide you through this journey.  You are stronger than you think.  Keep us in the loop and rest up while you can.


Martinsburg, WV
Forum Posts: 923
Member Since:
3 June 2014
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22 October 2014 - 7:07 am
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Welcome Harmony and her pack!

I’m sorry that Harmony is having to go through this but this community is very supportive and full of advice from people who’ve been through this journey. 

First off in no way did you “maim one of God’s creatures”…Harmony’s loving spirit is still intact, she’s just missing a limb that had this awful cancer in it.  She’s still the same sweet girl!!  And she’ll learn how to maneuver herself with only 3 legs.  It may take a little time but she’ll get it…they all do.

I’d like to suggest the ebooks offered on this site (Three Legs and a Spare and Living Life on Three Legs) as they were extremely helpful for me and my husband to know how best to help our Leland when he came home and how to manage our human emotions regarding the amputation.  I think we all go through the guilt of “what have I done to my baby” when we first see them but that subsides once we start seeing them get back to their old selves and getting around.

Also, when she comes home stay on top of the pain medication.  There are several different ones used and not all dogs respond the same to them.  I think the main ones used is Tramadol and Gabapentin.  My Leland didn’t do well on the Tramadol (he refused to take and it was pretty much a fight to get the pill in him) so he was only on Gabapentin and did fine with it.  Sometimes Tramadol and Gabapentin are used together and sometimes NSAIDS like Rimadyl and Previcox are prescribed.  If you’re only sent home with an NSAID I’d ask about adding the Tramadol and/or Gabapentin as well.  I think one of our other members Sally has equated it to sending a person home with Ibuprofen after amputation.

Stay connected and we’ll help you through this journey.  Just remember the first couple week are usually the toughest with ups and downs but that’s normal.

Sending you and Harmony positive thoughts for a safe recovery!

Sahana and her Angel Leland


November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

Forum Posts: 83
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22 August 2014
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22 October 2014 - 7:32 am
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Hi Harmony and Family,

Everyone here is so wise, and has already given you tons of advice. Some things that I did and told myself over and over again to reassure myself of our decision for Theo…

1) I watched lots and lots of videos of awesome tripawds running around PAIN FREE and HAPPY!

2) Dogs don’t think in terms of why’s and what-ifs. They don’t get inside their own heads and wonder where their leg went. They just wake-up and realize, “Hey, I need to start walking a little differently, the old way isn’t working anymore, and I want to eat and play ball!”.

3) Bone cancer, as I imagine MCT is very painful. Sometimes so painful that no amount of drugs will bring comfort. And that is what did it for me. I wanted Theo living pain free as soon as possible!

After his amputation, he had a pain patch and never seemed in pain, even once it was taken off 5 day later. I think he had a few nerve spasms that caused him to yelp, but they passed as soon as they happened.

It may take 3 days it might take 2 weeks, but Harmony will amaze you with her ability to move on and get back to being a happy dog!! The lengths some pups will go to just to chase their favorite toy will surprise you! Theo picked up his ball three days after amputation! But also, keep in mind that all dogs will be different in how long they recover, so be patient!

We are here for you guys on this journey!

Rachel and Snaggliest Angel Theodore

Westminster, MD
Forum Posts: 1398
Member Since:
31 August 2013
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22 October 2014 - 8:50 am
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Hello and welcome to the best support community in the world for this new journey you are starting with Harmony…..she surely looks like a sweet girl from your avatar. It is very frightening, we all know that for certain.  My precious Lab Polly, also lost her front leg to a different type of cancer, hemangiosarcoma. She also dealt with a mast cell tumor when she was a bit younger, and we were lucky enough to beat that one. 

Did Harmony actually lose her spleen to mast cell? I was surprised after reading this, I guess this is the first time I have ever heard of this type of cancer affecting the spleen. 

Please know that you did the BEST possible thing FOR Harmony, not to her….most of us felt the same way a bit, but it was only our own fear that made us feel this way….speaking for myself and many others, our Tripawds did fantastic after amputation. It will take some time to heal and maybe get through a few rough spots, but otherwise Harmony will do great.

Keep us all updated on your girl, and remember that we will all be here for you.

Bonnie & Angel Polly

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28730
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25 April 2007
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22 October 2014 - 11:37 am
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Harmony and family, thank you for joining, I’m sorry you had to. As you can see this community will help you through your feelings, which are all totally normal and shared with anyone who has gone through this experience.

One of the greatest lessons you can learn with this experience is that it’s we humans who have the issues about amputation, cancer, facing a scary diagnosis….dogs and cats don’t care about how they look, they don’t have regrets, the don’t care about days on a calendar or the prognosis the doctor gives. All they want is to feel good and get on with life, living each day for the beautiful gift that it is. In the divine spirit in which they are created, they treasure every moment they have on this planet with people who love them.

Keep breathing, try not to focus on all the what-ifs. Take things day by day and focus on how you still have your beautiful girl with you. Envision her Loving Life On Three Legs and continuing on, and you will find that she believes it too. Your attitude has so much to do with the recovery experience. Be strong, and so will she.

Keep us posted OK? We are here for you.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Norene, TN
Forum Posts: 1072
Member Since:
21 October 2014
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22 October 2014 - 4:58 pm
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Holy granoly, what an unbelievable 24 hours. And what a truly wonderful response from you wonderfully kind people.

We picked up our sweet Harmony today. The doc felt she was bouncing back quickly and thought she was ready to go home. At the same time he was also calming my fears (just like you good folks). I can’t say enough about him; such a level-headed, kind-hearted person. Just the person I need to keep me balanced.

I read somewhere in the forums about taking time to look at the pictures in the gallery to ready myself when I first see her sans her leg and stapled up. I took the advise and I can’t tell you how much that helped. I cried pretty much the first 10 to 15 images. By the time I got to the last one I was so much better. In fact, I was able to keep my emotions in check when I first saw her. What I truly saw was all those puppies I studied last night. In fact I was nearly joyful, can’t explain it.

Harmony is resting right now (pain meds). I took the opportunity to get back here to report her status.

I’ll be back later when I get another break.

Harmony, Melody (her step-sister), the hub-a-dub, and myself (Pam) thank you from the bottom of our paws.

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28730
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25 April 2007
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22 October 2014 - 7:16 pm
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Oh goodie! You sound SO much better!! The photos aren’t pretty but they are real life and they help calm your fears when that first encounter happens.

Yay that Harmony is home, what a wonderful day for all of you. Holler if you need anything at all, we’re here to help!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 354
Member Since:
18 June 2014
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22 October 2014 - 7:58 pm
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So happy she is home.  I felt the same way when looking at the pictures.  I had to force (tough love)big-blinkmy husband and kids to look at them too.  Not abuse I swear…they are 15 and 20 years old.  Within a few days you don’t even think about the absence.  Rest when you can, keep the pain controlled, assure that she is hydrated…fresh water served wherever she is lying, ice cubes, treats, carrots and lots of love. Stay connected we will guide you.  BTW do you have runners on your tile wood or linoleum floors for traction ?  They aren’t pretty but they do the job.  As with most of us animal pawrents the animals are better cared for than the humans lol.  I went without an oven from May till August wanted to catch up on bills lol, but my dogs were Well taken care of. That is why we are here.


Southwestern Ontario, Canada
Forum Posts: 555
Member Since:
22 November 2012
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22 October 2014 - 10:03 pm
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Glad she is home.. glad you are breathing.. and glad you found us!!!!  

Everyone here has basically given such wonderful advice.. and this is certainly the place to stay connected and ask questions… one thing you should know here is that… we all understand.  Seriously.  None of us would raise an eyebrow at you or stare at you with that “deer in the headlight look”.  After all.. how could you see it unless we were on cam together.. lol

Throw rugs are a must when you have a tripawd.  I bought a bunch of those washable one and put them all over our laminate  Spent $200 in carpets one night so my Franklin would not slip!  Another thing with front amputees is that I raised our water and food bowls up about 7 inches.  I didn’t want Franklin straining down to eat.

And, even though they seem like they are doing fantastic a day or two after surgery.. you really must try to keep them confined to a room and spend lots of snuggle time and couch potato imitations with them.  My vet said that there are many blood vessels cut and stitched and you don’t want them to be over active and burst one!

We kept Franklin the tv room with his water and bed and watched movies for 4 days!!  lol  he was out to go do his business but no short walks till his stitches were out.

Keep us posted.. we love to hear about Harmony and hear of the successes.. as well as help you along this adventure.. 

Christine….. with Franklin in her heart♥

Franklin, he was the Happiest Dog on Three Legs! Diagnosed 09/26/2012 with Osteosarcoma, amputated 12/4/2012.  Had a wonderful 5 1/2 months painfree until he ran for the Bridge on 5/15/2013.  Always in my heart, and always a guardian angel of my pack...   You can follow his Tripawd Adventures, before and after, in my blog, Frank'n'Farter!

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