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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 with hip dysplasia
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Member Since:
23 August 2014
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3 September 2014 - 1:28 am
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My lovely beagle boy Teddy became a tripawd on 22 August just 12 days ago. He slipped off the front seat of my partner's van while in motion and shattered his elbow on his front right leg into at least 9 pieces.

He is an 7 year old beagle who also has hip dysplasia. Teddy managed coming home real well from the vets until 3 days ago. Since then he has been crying/whining.

The vet checked him today and says the joints themselves feel fine but the muscles in his back end are terribly tight. I have tried applying gently heat but he cries and moves away. He has a Fentanyl pain relief patch and is also on Previcox anti inflam daily.

He is not hungry and refuses his food if he can taste/smell supplements so have to be quite sparing with them.

Am feeling that I made the wrong decision and should have never asked Teddy to walk this terribly painful road.

Would love to hear from anyone who has a tripawd with hip dysplasia who can reassure me.

Jill Gordon

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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3 September 2014 - 9:38 am
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Hi Jill & Teddy!  Sorry to hear about Teddy's accident.  My Daisy is also a front leg tripawd (left elbow joint destroyed by arthritis) with bad hips (dysplasia and advanced arthritis).

12 days is still pretty early in the recovery period.  Daisy wasn't back to being her normal self until 4 weeks.  They can tend to get pretty sore as they are using their muscles in different ways than before trying to compensate for the missing limb.  I am not a vet but the crying and whining could be the fentanyl patch or just the pain from his tight muscles.  It's hard to know since crying and whining can be caused by both.

Since Daisy suffers arthritis pain she takes Deramaxx once a day and Tramadol twice a day.  I always put a little topper of canned food on her kibble to hide the Deramaxx and Tramadol in.  That pretty much works for us.  Sometimes she fishes the pills out so I keep pill pockets on hand to put them in.  During her amp recovery she didn't have much of an appetite either so I kept hotdogs on hand to hide pills in.  Basically that was all she ate for the first few weeks -- cut up hotdogs and boiled chicken.  Eventually her appetite returned and she started back on her kibble/canned food.  Maybe you could try hotdogs?

Being a tripawd with issues like dysplasia and arthritis does make it harder on them.  Daisy had her amp in Dec. 2011 and her mobility was not particularly affected at that time but now she struggles to get around because of the pain in her hips (that is due to the advancing arthritis more than her hip dysplasia).  Plus she is a much larger dog than Teddy.  She was diagnosed with arthritis at 5 years old and is 9 years now.

Sorry if I kinda rambled on in my post.  Please don't feel you made the wrong decision.  I think we all have questioned ourselves while they are recovering if we did the right thing!

Marla and tri-dogs Daisy & Biscuit

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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3 September 2014 - 11:11 am
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Teddy is real l y, real l y cute....another one of those mugs that just melts your heart!

I questioned my decision to ampute for al.ost three weeks...and that was WITHOUT "other" issues....just a slow up and down recovery!

And yes, Daisy. Alonf with many others have had all sorts of "other leg issues. Hopefully Murphy's mom and Lexie's mom will see this and chime in too. I think you'll feel much better knowing dogs can do very well with the right treatment and balance of low dose p as in meds.

As Marla said, this is still early in recovery and muscles are sore with all thereadjustment issues. Teddy should still be just going out for short potty breaks and pretty much tak i ng it easy the rest of the time. He may have over done it a bit at first.

You may ask the vet about switching vrom the patch to Tramadol or Gabapentin. I think the patch can mess with their appetite too.

I KNOW this recovery process is scary and full of uncertainty and doubts and sheer fear. We understand like no others can! We also understand that Teddy WILL get better and WILL get his sparkle back consistently soon! Most tripawds here were already somewhat adjusting tonlofe on three legs as theywere limping off and on for weeks...or even months..before the actual diagnosis and subsequent amputation. Teddy had no "adjustment" time so going straight to three legs was harder on his muscles, tendons, etc.

Many have had good results with acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Check out all the links here for building core muscles too.

But for n ow, he really needs to take it slowly and just rest.

Oh, and about the pilss...yeah, once my Happy Hannah found out there was a Tramadol in her "special treat"...she would avoid that treat for months! The taste is sooooo bitter! If they even smell m it ony o ur hands they wil l walk away!!

THE best thing I found was LIVERWURST...TURKEY LIVERWURST! Make sure the pill is well hidden and you have no scent on your hands when you are wrapping the liverwurst around it. I actual l y used tweezers to insert the pill and then rolled itminto a ball...that way there was no scent...the stinky liverwurst covered it all!

Try some home cooking..chicken andmacaroni and chesse...yum!!

Hang in there!!! We are all here for you!!! It will get better!!! Every dog's recovery is different!!!

Please keep us updated, okay?

Hugs to all!

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!

Member Since:
23 August 2014
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3 September 2014 - 1:33 pm
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Crying..... it's makes such a difference to know you all have walked this road before.  Thank you so much for the replies.  It was fabulous too to hear from someone who has a dog with hip dysplasia and know they too have had problems with the muscles.  

It is heartbreaking to hear him crying.  

I do think he really overdid things and now his muscles are just screaming.  I have his massage therapist coming this afternoon.  She has worked on him for the last four years and I'm hoping she can release the very tight muscles in his back legs.  I've booked acupuncture for him next Tuesday.  

We are due to the vets this afternoon for another pain patch.  She gave Teddy Tramal (not Tramadol) and I will ask her today if we could try Tramadol instead.  I do recall he was like this when he came home with the pain patch now that I think about it.

Will definitely keep you updated .

thank you again


Member Since:
18 September 2013
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3 September 2014 - 4:10 pm
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Hi Jill and handsome Teddy

My lovely tripawd Lab also has mild hip dysplasia in his left hip....and he continues to love life on three legs.  Tuck is an 85 pound chocolate Lab that lost his front right leg to an invasive sarcoma eleven months ago.

The trick early on is to find the balance between meds and pain management - and I think that is the road that you are on right now.  Things will get better.....but the extra challenges might make it a bit harder at first.

Tuck began rehab with a vet at our clinic who is training to become a certified rehab specialist in June and this has made a world of difference for him.  The combination of exercises, stretches and gentle massage has been really beneficial.  While I would recommend seeing a rehab specialist, many of the exercises that I do with Tuck are available in the ebook "Loving Life On Three Legs ".

Hope you had a great appointment at the vet.


Linda and Tucker

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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3 September 2014 - 10:10 pm
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Hi Jill, welcome. I'm so sorry to hear about Teddy, that sounds like an awful accident!

As others have said, this is very early in the recovery process. The Fentanyl patch can pack a whallop with some dogs and produce symptoms like this, so I hope that's all it is as far as his vocalization.

When it comes to his activity, he should still be on pretty reduced walks and daily exercise. What does a day in the life of Teddy look like right now?

Teddy's size is a BIG advantage when it comes to being a Tripawd; it's probably just a matter of you getting used to monitoring his activity to make sure he doesn't overdo things, and also introducing conditioning and strengthening activities to help him regain strength. Even though a Tripawd can get around and walk just fine, compensating on 3 limbs takes it's toll when the body isn't as strong in the core area as it should be.

Be sure to pick up a copy of our ebook, Loving Life on Three Legs, which gives tons of tips about being strong and living life to the fullest on three. Our Gear Blog also has tons of tips like these.

Let us know how the rest of this week goes.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
23 August 2014
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4 September 2014 - 1:22 am
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Thank you for all help.  

I took Teddy back to the vet today as I was not convinced the pain was under control.  The Fentanyl patch was finished so that was removed.  They then gave him an injection of Cat-a-mean (phonetic spelling) to relax his muscles and as pain relief.  They believe he is crying/whining because of anxiety.  

I have him on Tramadol twice a day now together with Previcox.  I have finally settled him with D.A.P. and his dog music and a hot water bottle against his back.  

It's another day tomorrow :-)



Member Since:
14 March 2014
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4 September 2014 - 4:13 am
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Hi, Jill, and sorry for all you're going through with Teddy. He is just adorable, by the way ! I agree with the good advice others have already given you. Lexie, a beagle mix who is 14 with hip dysphasia, arthritis and a luxating patella, has definitely walked down the same road as Teddy.

Often at this stage it takes some trial and error to find the right combo of meds to work effectively. Teddy is still adjusting to life on 3 legs and is using his muscles differently. Bravo for massage! That will definitely help! Cold laser therapy may help as well, along with the stretching noted in the Life on 3 Legs ebook.

From a meds standpoint our magic combo turned out to be Tramadol, Gabapentin, Rimadyl, and a muscle relaxant as needed called Robaxin or Methocarbamyl. Others have found that a small dose of Trazodone at night can help them sleep better and give some relief from anxiety, too. I'd ask your vet about all of those. And two supplements that have been a huge help to us are K9 Immunity Plus and Glycoflex 3.

Hope this helps... Hang in there, things will get better! smiley

Deb and Angel Lexie* Diagnosed at age 13. Tried radiation first; wish we had amputated upon diagnosis (even with lung mets). Joined Club Tripawd April 2014 & Lexie loved life on 3 legs! Advice: Start physical therapy as soon as your vet clears it, especially hydrotherapy if available :-) See Lexie pics here.  


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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4 September 2014 - 9:05 am
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Please let us know if these things are helping. It may take a bit to kick in and be effective.

Deb, Linda, Marla all have given+you great advice from a first hand experience point of view.

I've had the privilege of meeting Lexie in person. Trust me, nothing is holding that dog back! Deb has done a masterful job of custom designing the correct mix of meds, PT snd holistic that works beautifully for the amazing Lexie!

Best wishes to you!
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle

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!

Member Since:
23 August 2014
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6 September 2014 - 1:44 pm
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Just to let you all know Teddy has his first day yesterday of sleeping without crying and crying. I took him to his osteopath and she treated him and gently tractioned his spine which was compressed from the accident.  He is SO much happier.

Also yesterday we increased Teddy's living area and put under-felt and carpet throughout to soften the floors for him so he can lie in the sun and included a low sofa with a crash pad down beside so that he can get up easily but can also get down safely.  He lay in the sun and just slept.

We are both feeling so much happier big-grin

Next week I have acupuncture planned for him and the next day a massage and laser treatment.

Once we know we have his pain controlled then we start rehab.

Thank you all so much for your comments - it really helped to know we are on the right track.

Jill and Teddy

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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6 September 2014 - 8:36 pm
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Awww that is fantastic news, he is so lucky to have such great pack leaders. Your approach is perfect and obviously working great. Keep it up and keep us posted!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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