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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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Who has had a long-term happy ending?
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Member Since:
10 October 2019
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10 October 2019 - 8:26 am
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My little dog, Molly Moo (because she looks like a cow and eats grass) is soon to be living life on just 3 legs. She’s a sweet soul, dumped on the road by her owner. We adopted her from our local humane society three weeks ago as a playmate for our young beagle. For one day, everything was great, then she started limping. After two weeks of testing we learned an awful truth, at just 7 months old Molly has a radius that did not grow properly and she is now bearing 100% of her weight (16 pounds) on her ulna because her elbow has been severely displaced. The damage is done and while we were offered a distraction osteogenesis to put her elbow back where it belongs, that surgery will not alleviate her pain at all and will only slow the degenerative process. If we want the pain gone, we must amputate her right front leg. 

There is a lot of information on your site and I will read through it as I go but right now I just want someone to tell me about a dog that had an early amputation and ended up still fine at 8, 9, 10+ years old. I am a veterinary technician working in the rehab world and the only thing I have ever seen from long-term 3 legged dogs is crippling painful arthritis. I am so despondent for her future (so much so that I am considering returning her to the humane society). I need just one person to tell me that their dog is living a long, healthy, happy, pain free life despite an amputation at a young age. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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10 October 2019 - 9:53 am
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Welcome and best wishes for Molly! Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

You will find many examples of long-term Tripawds here in the forums and in the Blogs.

Take Tripawds spokesdawg Wyatt Ray, for starters. Wyatt lost a rear limb to neglect as a puppy – arounf 8± months old. He is now more than 10 years old, and still Loving Life On Three Legs !

There are many things you can do to help keep Molly fit and strong. Download Loving Life On Three Legs , check out some of the starter exercises , or consult with a CCRT or CCRP for a proper evaluation and recommendations. The Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first visit from the Maggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 October 2019 - 10:14 am
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Okay, hang on.  Lots of help coming yiur way.  I’m  coming back but need to “search” Buddy, a Golden who had amp as a reallynyoung puppy five or six years ago.  That’s  just one example…we have more coming like WYATT whose been on three for years!!!!!

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:
27 July 2014
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10 October 2019 - 10:38 am
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Molly Moo is adorable! Those eyes sp_hearticon2

Thank you for rescuing her and giving her a loving home and a friend. My cat had her front leg amputated due to cancer 5 years ago. She’s now 13 and yes, she moves slower than my other cat but she is happy and still agile in many ways. Most cats get arthritis over the age of 12.

Arthritis is common in older pets and humans and, as you know, there are many ways to manage it if caught early.

Wyatt is a great example of living a full life as a “senior”. And he’s a large dog!

I’ve been amazed at many of the dogs here who’ve had amputations and continue to perform as athletes in frisbee competitions. Here are a couple of stories off the internet:



I’ve seen blogs here of agility dog and hunting dog champs and others who do scent work, therapy, and more. They are dogs who want to be dogs and live in the moment and love life.

I’ll admit I have more concerns about Mona than my other cat but then she had cancer and he didn’t. But then every pet is different. If you decide to return sweet Molly Moo please let the Humane Society know about so we can support the new adopter.

Best wishes in making your decision.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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10 October 2019 - 10:40 am
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I am a veterinary technician working in the rehab world and the only thing I have ever seen from long-term 3 legged dogs is crippling painful arthritis. 

Well my friend you have come to the right place! Oh my gosh do we have stories for you! 

Yes, dogs like Wyatt Ray have done very well on three for all their lives. And I think the reason you see the crippling arthritis so often is because people wait until the dog has all the signs before doing anything about it. By then, half the battle is lost. It is critical not to wait to introduce OA management.

This is one of our major goals as an organization and what keeps us going every day to be here: to let pet parents know of the importance of proper exercise and all the things necessary to avoid that awful arthritis. I wish we had known what we know now, when our Chief Fun Officer Jerry was a Tripawd.

Being that you are a tech, you have all the keys necessary to prevent OA and manage it when it does come on (which, from what orthopedic surgeons and rehab therapists tell us, is inevitable in a Tripawd, sooner rather than later). But your pup is going to have a great life because of all the things you can do to help her live her best life for as long as she can. Which in a beagle is typically a very long time!

Let me give you some links to check out:

Tripawd Tuesday: Celebrating Cotee the Senior Tripawd!

Tripawd Tuesday: Tucker’s 16 years and Going Strong!

Tripawd Tuesday: Yodi’s Long, Hoppy Life on Three Legs

Tripawd Tuesday: Chuy Keeps Up with the Chase

Tripawd Tuesday: Six Years and Counting, Scout Still Shines

The One and Only Codie Rae …. and her Oaktown brothers like Travis Ray, are all seniors (age 10 or older) who have been on three since they were one year or younger.

and more tips

How to Help Aging Tripawds Live Better

How To Prevent Common Injuries in Tripawds

Orthopedic Health Tips for Tripawds, Part 1

What we have experienced with Wyatt Ray is that caring for his needs and slowing down the OA progression (he also has hip displaysia), is really not that much different than what we would do for an older dog, say 11 or 12. We are just managing it earlier than most pet parents would for their four-leggers. The trick is to say on top of it, get a good team together (seeing an orthopedic specialist for a baseline eval is always a good idea, so you can watch for changes as your girl grows), and being committed to regular, proper exercise isn’t all that different from caring for a quadpawd, imo.

You can do this! 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
25 March 2019
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10 October 2019 - 10:48 am
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Howdy. Sorry to read about Molly’s situation. Hang in there. My Maggie was 3 yrs old when she lost her right front leg due to being hit by a car and being abandoned by her owner. We adopted Maggie 1 1/2 yrs ago shortly after losing her leg. All I can say is that we do take shorter walks, but life continues. She gets along really well with just three legs. I have met a neighbor who’s father had a tripaw and the dog lived for 12 yrs. after amputation. There is so much information on this site and a lot of support as well. There is continued research and new medications for our furry friends being developed that greatly improves their quality of life. I have mentioned in past posts that we cannot imagine not having Maggie in our life. She makes me stronger too by her resilience to overcome obstacles and willingness to live life at the fullest. At heart, she is a dog doing what dogs do.

Molly will  mend and will surprise you from her recovery. There may be some challenges in the future, but with this site and members can get you through anything. Never hesitate to reach out for advice and help. 

Dave & Maggie


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 October 2019 - 10:54 am
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Omay, I’m  not a very good “search techie”, so let me just say this, YES, We have had many tripawds whi hace lived their regular  “life span” on three!  Others will come along and give you specific cases.  

As I mentioned  earlier, Wyatt has been a tripawd fot avout ten-ish years.  Codie Rae of the Oaktown Pack, I believe  about ten or eleven years.  Both of these examples  are big German Shepherds too!

I’m so sorry this precious little pup is facing an amputation  so early, but, with proper care, there is no reason Molly Moo can’t  thrive j ti maturity.

Not sure of the history you are seeing with “crippled” tripawds with all sorts of issues.  That does matter.  

‘Preventative” maintenance  is  important.  Starting off with proper joint supplements, good physical therapy, consult  with a Certified Rehabilitation Specialist, core strengthening  exercises. monitoring  high impact activity, etc.

For example, Molly Moo can play with a frisbee thrown lower to rhe ground  so she’s not jumping high and landing hard.  Yes, you’ll have your hands full because  she’s  a youngster right now and will want to do crazy things.

Yes, tripawda can be more prone to arthritis, so can very athletic dogs, or virtually  almost any dog.  The advantage  you would have with Molly Moo is knowledge and staying ahead of any potential issues.  

Others will chime in with input..   and good for you for wanting  to give this sweet girl a loving  furever jome.  And it certainly  is understandable if her circumstances  for possible issues down the road are too challenging to take on.    

Keep us in the loop and let us know any questions  you have .

BTW love how this adorable pup got her name!


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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10 October 2019 - 10:55 am
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Obviously you were brought together for a reason. In your line of work, you know that the odds of her finding someone that can take proper care of her are slim to none. For her, you are a chance at life. 

After the first miracle brought you both together, then you found Tripawds… double miracle? 

If anybody is able to keep her happy and healthy on three, it sounds like you are the person for the job. On top of the links provided for you, you will find more and more as you look.

We will be here to support you through recovery, and you have the best, most knowledgeable people here living that life right now with many happy dogs and cats. They take the time to research the most cutting edge opportunities for dogs and cats alike to stay healthy and happy on three. They have touched lives all over the world, including mine. 

Please don’t despair. Look through the blogs and forums on these precious lives, and I think you will see that this pup is worth saving. Huckleberry did not have cancer. He was a feral cat that made his way into my yard and decided to visit every day. Before we could trap him he disappeared for over a month and came back finally with his femur broken in two. He just celebrated his 2 year ampuversary/gotchaversary as a happy, domesticated, pain free little dude that makes my heart almost burst with love every time I look at him.

Good luck to you on this journey.

Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2


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

Huckleberry's Blog


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 October 2019 - 10:56 am
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Geez….by the time it took me to typo my response, David and Jerry and Kerren  chimed in with great input.

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:
26 January 2017
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10 October 2019 - 3:17 pm
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Ditto to everything Jackie said. I really hope you give Molly Moo (great name!) a chance. I think you’ll be glad you did.

David and Rocky (and Baxter now too!)

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

Member Since:
4 April 2019
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10 October 2019 - 6:34 pm
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My mother had a medium size poodle. Toby lost his back leg at age one to an accident. He lived to age 12 and never missed a beat!

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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