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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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Wanted to thank you for your posts and the answers i’ve obtained in here.
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Member Since:
28 June 2018
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28 June 2018 - 6:56 pm
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Am fostering a female shepherd mix (now a tripod) rescued from a hoarding situation. She had an injured back leg and the vet determined she had been shot and her leg shattered. Not only was she taken from possibly the only home she’s known she was at the vet a whole week for the amputation and spay, and now she is at my house.  

I feel like she is completely shut down. She will not stand up at any time while i’m around and gets as flat to the ground as possible when i get near her. She is on two kinds of anitbiotics and no longer on pain meds. She does get up every now and then and even has used the pet door (at night) to go outside to relieve herself but when i come around she immediately goes down to her belly.

So Q-#1 After reading some of the answers here do you think it’s safe to say (a week after surgery) she still feels bad?

Q-#2 Once her sutures are removed how long until it is ok to physically coax her to get up?

I want to take her out to the grass where the rest of my dogs play to hopefully get a spark in her. I’m giving her lots of space, love and quiet. She is eating and drinking fine so that is reassuring. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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28 June 2018 - 7:11 pm
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Hello Tigress, welcome. We are so glad you found us, and appreciate your fostering this girl. What a sad start to life she had had but thankfully she is in good hands now. 

Your foster dog (what's her name?) has been through a difficult time, and it's no surprise that she doesn't trust people and reacts the way she does right now. Not only is she coping with the trauma of being abused, but she's had major surgery too. To me her behavior sounds like part pain signals, part mistrust of people.

One week out from surgery is not a long time, and most dogs are still on pain medication at least until stitches come out. Try to put yourself in her paws. That is major surgery. She may be in a lot of pain right now. I know I would be if I was just a week past surgery. Call your vet asap and let them know about her behavior, then request more pain control for at least another week. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory like Rimadyl, a neuoropathic pain medication like Gabapentin, and another pain medication like Amantadine are all common ones given to new Tripawds for the first few weeks. 

As far as her activity, she should just be taking short, leashed potty walks right now. If she won't get up to go outside and potty when you encourage her, try tempting her with treats, peanut butter, whatever it takes to get her to trust. I'm not a behavior expert so I'd really encourage you to work with one who can help. Does the rescue have anybody they work with?

Glad to hear she is eating, drinking and eliminating! Those are great signs! I'll bet if you can get better pain management for her, once she gets used to you and the dogs her real personality will start to shine. You're doing great by taking a slow and cautious approach!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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28 June 2018 - 7:15 pm
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One more tip: our e-book, Loving Life On Three Legs , features lots of our best tips and ideas about raising a healthy, happy Tripawd. Be sure to check it out!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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28 June 2018 - 8:57 pm
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Oh gosh!!  This is just so sad!  Well, sad up to this point, but now that she's  in such loving care she will soon know a happiness  and joy that she never thought possible!

Absolutely  ditto Jerry as far as getting her some good pain meds asap!!  This gal just had MAJOR AMPUTATION SURGERY, had a spay operation, woke up in a loud and noisy Vet clinic and stayed there for a week, most likely  without ample pain meds at all, trying to adjust to three legs, and then has know idea where she is and when she will ever go to the only home, and the only people, she's ever known!!! 

WOW!!    OF COURSE SHE'S SHUT DOWN!!   Most humans would still be in a hospital on a morphine drip!!  As Jerry mentioned, having good pain meds will help tremendously!!   If the Vet you are seeing  is not knowledgeable in good pain management ,  then get a second Vet involved!  A well versed Vet in pain management   will have her on Rimadyl, tramadol (2 to 3 times a day depending on jer weight and dose amount), and Gabapentin usually  twice a day.  Not a Vet and not giving Vet advice, just letting you know what we generally  see here. 

The fact that she uses the doggy door at night is a HUGE VICTORY!! And eating and drinking, YAY!!😁 You are doing  an excellent  job.  Just continue to give her her space.  She IS getting  up as needed, so that's  great that she can be mobile!!!😁

Once she gets on some pain meds consistently  for a few days, just sit in the same room with her and have some really, really yummy treats around you.  I'm  sure you're  already a doing this, but just sit in the same room with her  without approaching  her, just talking gently  to her.  She WILL eventually approach you!

I think as soon as she can interact with the other dog at a time.... you will see all sorts of positive changes take place.  She may feel a little too vulnerable  right now though.   And again, getting rid of the surgery  pain will help.

Please stay connected  and keep us updated!  So exciting  to see how she grows and learns to trust and learns what it's  like to be really loved!❤

Lots of hugs and a big thank you for helping  this sweet girl!

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!

Member Since:
1 October 2017
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28 June 2018 - 9:09 pm
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Hi and welcome!

Thank you for taking the time to give this pup a chance. I agree with jerry, sounds like your girl is going through a lot physically, mentally, and emotionally. She doesn't know what to think right now i am sure, and in top of all of this her hospital meds are wearing off and it probably doesn't feel very good.

She's hitting the deck and likely part of that is fear. If you can spend some time down there laying near her, petting her, taking to her, she might respond and get some comfort. As you care for her, medicate and soothe her you may start to earn her trust as her healing process continues and her pain gets lesser. I'm not a doctor or a specialist but i have rescued a pretty good handful of dogs and cats in my life. That poor baby sounds like she doesn't know if she is coming or going. She doesn't sound super alpha either but if pushed too hard she could retaliate out of fear.

I would not try to push too hard right now, and i would definitely concentrate on her eating, drinking, and pain management . imho love encourages love. She will also count on your inner strength and feed on that so be positive and strong. If you need to do something, just talk to her, be soothing and careful, and attempt to do it. If she starts to panic and you think you're pushing her beyond what she can handle then stop and try again later. 

One of my toughest rescues was a Dobie. It took me over 2 hours to catch her and i had to use a snare. I tried to call her over, had cat food and tuna but i clapped my hands and she started screaming and crying. I could not get less than 10 feet from her. She was totally traumatized but physically unharmed. When i finally caught her she took me for the run of my life. I finally got her in the truck, and back to the shelter. After i got her safely in the kennel i had to shut the lights and just let her be. I spent the whole next day sitting on the kennel floor, at first outside of it then finally inside. No eye contact, head down. I kept talking softly to her, offering treats and she finally came to me. She ended up being the sweetest girl. After about 6 months of love and kindness i was able to find her a forever home. 

You are doing an amazing thing right now and it's going to be a process. She is so lucky to have somebody that cares enough to give her a chance. I think it's safe to say it's probably going to be a couple more weeks before she starts feeling like her old self. Not only has she had an amputation, but she was also spayed. Once her sutures/staples are out and her incisions are all healed you'll probably notice a big difference in her. 

I wish you luck and hope some of that rambling helps somehow smiley

We are here and will help you in any way that we can.

You are an angel on earth rescuing that little girl. I wish you luck and success ❤️❤️❤️

Jackie and Huckleberryheart


Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Phoebe, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

Member Since:
2 April 2013
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29 June 2018 - 9:28 pm
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Oh my gosh!  The poor thing!  First of all, yes, she need pain meds!!!!  (my biggest pet peeve!) - most dogs are on pain medication for about 2 weeks, some for longer.  Usually Tramadol, Gabapentin & Carprofen (or some combination of narcotic, gaba & anti-inflammatory).  

The other thing I wonder would be if you should treat her somewhat feral?  She doesn't trust anyone, so you're going to have to prove to her that you can be trusted, you have to earn it!  There's a rescue that I watch sometimes where she takes in feral dogs ...she starts with sitting with the dog, her back to them, feeding them - tossing the food to the dog, but keeping her back turned, so the dog feels safe...eventually, her hand can get closer & the dog will take food from her, and she can sit facing the dog, handing her food.  They realize that the hand is good, has something good for them and never hurting.


Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs


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