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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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Forum Posts: 15
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14 February 2011
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15 February 2011 - 4:04 pm
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Hi Everyone, 

We are new actually - have just joined, because unfortunately my 7 year old Siberian Husky  lost her back right leg on Friday.

We are in total shock still, as it was a ACL repair  gone wrong...... very wrong.  I logged on to the internet in panic on how to cope and help her, and found this community.  So far I can only say what a blessing you seeem to be.  We have ordered the harness for her, and between the wonderful service, the helpful people and your encouraging site, it has been very helpful to me so far. 


Zaria is still  not home with us yet.,  and vet doesn't think it will be before Saturday at the best case. 


Thanks for listening.... 



Here and Now

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15 February 2011 - 4:56 pm
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Thanks for joining Melanie! (You future posts will not require moderation.)

Please keep us posted on Zaria's progress. If you have not already done so, be sure to bookmark Jerry's Required Reading List for lots of links to some of the best information this site has to offer.

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15 February 2011 - 5:28 pm
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I am so sorry that Zaria's ACL repair went so horribly wrong.  I don't know how much recovery will be influenced by the fact that the amputation followed another surgery.  Most of our pups come home after a day or two.  If Zaria can expect a usual recovery then the good news is that your recovery period will be about half over before she comes home!

Rear leg amputees seem to have an easier time adjusting to being a tripawd.  Because a dog carries 60% of its weight on its front half balance issues seem to occur more often in front leg amputees.  I think that you will find that very soon Zaria will be as good as new.  I will look forward to hearing more about how she is doing.


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.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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15 February 2011 - 5:31 pm
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Oh, Melanie, how tragic.  You have found a wealth of information here.  There are a lot of cancer dogs, but not all of them are.  Regardless being three legged makes them all the same.  Keep reading you will find you mind starting to ease about the transformation.  None of us wanted to be here, but we have found kindred spirits here who will answer questions and help us feel better about the decisions we are facing.

Sending lots good thoughts for a speedy recovery for Zaria.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Mount Pleasant, Ia
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15 February 2011 - 8:17 pm
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Melanie, we are so very sorry to hear about the awful time Zaria has been through. And yes, facing caring for your furkid in their new life with 3 legs can be daunting and frightening, but as so many of us before have learned it is manageable. And you have found your way to a site that I believe to probably rank as the best in the world for info and support regarding care and life with an amputee dog. Did you order the ruffwear harness ? Searching for a harness for my dog Cooper was how I found the tripawds site and the ruffwear hanress has been just awesome! listening is what we are here for , so please keep us updated on Zaria, and we will look forward to hearing good progress reports!



Coopsdad/ Kenneth Blackburn

the monkeydogs only THINK they have invaded the tripawd state

The Rainbow Bridge

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15 February 2011 - 8:22 pm
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Melanie, I'm glad we got the chance to talk to you on the phone, and I'm super glad you posted here. Like hugapitbull said, not all of our pups are Tripawds because of cancer. You're in a great place where people totally understand how challenging this can be to cope with.

Always remember that no matter what, it's always harder for you than it is for Zaria. She will recuperate and love life again as soon as she gets her strength back. Dogs are so much more resilient than humans understand, until they go through something like this.

Hugs coming your way. Thanks for joining.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Las Vegas, Nevada
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15 February 2011 - 10:21 pm
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Oh my goodness!  What happened???


I'm just so sorry.  I'm really sorry.   But at least you have her!  Count your blessings dearly as I've lost a dog  to a ACL repair.   ACL repairs are not joke.  I will still have nightmares from Snooker's (the one that died) and then Comet (my three legged dog) - she had both knees done.  I bawled to the ortho vet when I took Comet in to have it done and pleaded with him to not let anything happen to her after losing Snooker from one.  He didn't and it was successful. 


I know this is all new and it's hard to wrap your brain around.  But I promise you, if you'll focus on the good, it will make it easier.  She is alive and she will be in your arms very soon.  Once your fur baby, Zaria gets over the amputation healing, life will be very good.  And now Zaria will be your super special fur baby. 

Let us know when she is home.  We are here for you.  We are pretty good at calming fears, just listening or a big virtual shoulder to cry on.


Angel Comet's mom

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.

Forum Posts: 15
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16 February 2011 - 4:20 pm
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Dear Everyone, 

Thank you so much for writing me back.. literally tears to my eyes to see all this encouragement for our family.   The good news is Zaria is expected to be released on Saturday...  so our countdown has officially started.   It really is an adjustment.....  so many "sad" moments, but then there is "laughter" too..  so we are trying to balance both.  Last night - the vet let me take her for a short walk.. (first one) .......and that was both - between tragic and sad.. to also sharing a laugh with my girl 🙂  The hard part is the frustration we are all coping with, plus the fear that if something happens to the other leg, as it has only had the operation 1 month ago...  if the same thing happens, then she will be 100 lbs and be missing both back legs ??  This is an unimaginable fear I guess we are going to have to learn to live with...... for now it is keeping us up at night.  

I have tried to do allot of what I have read here and trying to interpret it into our lives...   The suggestions for the non-slip floors are great, except allot of the products are not available in Canada.  By chance is there any other Canadians reading who could recommend some type of good mats for over wood floors ?   

The other question I have may sound strange...  and would appreciate your comments, but I feel silly to believe that she "knows".  Up until last night she has kept her amputated leg away from our direct sight.  Yesterday as soon as she saw me, she stood up and showed me her "leg".  It was strange and even the handlers at the vet office commented that it seemed like she wanted me to see it now.  I hope I did right and just agreed with her that she lost her leg, but she was still very pretty.    It's so hard to know what they must be thinking.


Thanks again for all your help.  I will keep reading on....... and learning

In your heart, where I belong.
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16 February 2011 - 5:03 pm
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Hi Melanie,

We are also very new here. My dog Dakota had a front leg amputated Friday.  The adjustment is huge and the beginnning--for us--was difficult. But we seem to be over the hump and on our way.

If you are looking for non-slip options for wood floors, you can take a look at this link: http://gear.tri.....g-socks/  I bought 2 sets of these socks for Dakota and they work really well when he's on our non-carpeted floors. I thought they were expensive at US $20 a set, but they have a clearance section with half-priced socks. I figure Dakota doesn't care if he's wearing Halloween socks in February. I don't know if they ship to Canada (I can't imagine that they don't), but if you want them and they won't ship to you, let me know. I'll buy them and ship them to you, no problem.

Take care of you, breathe deeply and remember that your reaction is correct: Zaria is beautiful regardless of how many legs she has!kiss

(And yeah, I'd love to know what goes on in their heads!)

From abandoned puppy to Tripawd Warrior Dude, Dakota became one of the 2011 February Furballs due to STS. Our incredibly sweet friend lived with grace and dignity till he impulsively raced over the Bridge on 12-15-12.

Dakota's thoughtful and erudite blog is at

Here and Now

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16 February 2011 - 8:07 pm
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melanie said:

This is an unimaginable fear I guess we are going to have to learn to live with....

No, if you want life to be normal again, you need to let go of that that fear. What Zaria needs most is for you to be a strong balanced pack leader. She will sense your weakness, and remain weak herself. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are silly human emotions that get in the way of recovery. Please try to Be More Dog . Zaria will respect that and recovery will go much easier.

Try to focus on the positive. It's OK to freak out, just not in front of Zaria. That's what these forums are for! smiley

Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Please keep us posted.

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16 February 2011 - 8:37 pm
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Hi Melanie

Very sorry to hear that the operation went badly. A medical procedure going wrong is a very hard thing to accept.

So, where in Canada do you live? I am currently in Winnipeg, but previously lived in Alberta. Relatively new to Winnipeg.

For my 3-legged dog, I got lots of basic floor runners or matts at Canadian Tire or walmart; they have similar options. Those types of stores have lots of options.And I got a bit nicer (but still pretty inexpensive) wool rug from Ikea for another area. (One caution: the one at Can Tire, or Walmart, that is the most appealing has a backing that tends to errode and leave a bad imprint on nice wood floors.)

I ordered extra grip boots for outdoors on the ice, but I know my Tazzie did not like to wear boots inside. He would accept the boots outdoors. Can't say how they worked, because we had an exceptionally mild winter while he was still around. Some of the websites shown on the tripawds website would not send ruffwear products directly to Canada, but one did (I think it is called "monkeyfeet"). I would talk to the person on the phone and she'd mail things here. I can get you that info if you have any trouble finding it.

I also got a few warm coats for Tazzie in anticipation of a cold winter. Zaria might need something like that (or do you live in warm parts of BC?).

Ruffwear products are available in some Canadian stores anyway.

Jerry – didn't Chuy have 2 ACL surgeries after he became a tripawd? Something like that. So maybe you want to search out Chuy in the archives. Haven't seen much of him lately. He did lots of hydrotherapy – something we don't have in Winnipeg but you'd probably have in a larger city.

Good luck to you and Zaria and keep us posted.


Here and Now

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16 February 2011 - 9:50 pm
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Tazzie said:

... didn't Chuy have 2 ACL surgeries after he became a tripawd? Something like that.

FYI ...

Tripawds News Blog : When a Tripawd Needs Another Leg Surgery

Chuy Maloney's Blog

Forum Topics started by chuymaloney

Las Vegas, Nevada
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16 February 2011 - 10:06 pm
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Admin is right about the fear.  It will destroy you mentally.  Take it from me who never owned up to the amount of fear I had internally. But it made me physically ill.  I went from the most fearless person to the most fearful.  I can justify it some by saying I did it for twelve years!   And all my fears were really created by me not letting her be a normal dog.  I just needed to protect her with all my might. 

Now, Comet had emotional issues from a hoarder and was a 3-legged deformed dog.  (front leg deformity)  It's coming up a month that she died unexpectedly and suddenly and I can in hindsight say, my fears made her fears far worse!   One of my worst fears was how she would die.  I was so worried I would be left traumatized.  In the end - it was peaceful and she wasn't afraid and I wasn't afraid either. It was sudden but she let me go in peace.

So, my point is - I didn't find tripawds until Comet's companion dog died in July 09.  Talking with people helped me tremendously.  Not that I ever fessed up to my fears here until she was gone.  But just having people here grounding me mentally helped tremendously.

Take it from me - don't worry about the "what ifs".  Comet lived on 3 legs for 12 1/2 years.  Yes, she had two TPLO surgeries for her ACL repairs and the recovery was the hardest things I have ever done.  Having a 2 legged dog was tough!  But we got through both of them (all 24 weeks total of recovery!).  And she was great afterwards. 


So, just know most of us feel what you feel.  The fear, the worry and the stress.  It's good to talk about it. 


Just like Tazzie, I bought these matching throws and runners at Walmart.  Yep, I had a lot of them and haven't brought myself to pull them all up yet.  But it is a reasonable option and it doesn't look so bad.  I had mine down since Comet's first knee surgery.  (and her breaking two teeth sliding head first!   After several years down the rubber backing dried out, so I just glue gunned the corners on the cermanic tile. (Okay fine!  No, I haven't mopped my kitchen floor since 2008! big-blink)


Image Enlarger




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.

17 February 2011 - 1:17 am
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I'm sorry for all you and Zaria have been through. I understand how frustrating it must be to have a surgical complication result in a limb amputation. As difficult as it is, the best thing you can do for Zaria, is put that behind you around her and try to focus on returning to normal. Your approach is so important to her recovery. I don't post in new member forums very often because my experience was so different than most others & I don't feel I have much to offer, but the distress in your words is heartbreaking.

I did not have the difficulties many experience during the first few post-op weeks, nor did I have any conceptual reservations about my dog losing a leg. I believe, on some level, the two are related. I have done a great deal of volunteer work with both adults & children with physical and/or mental disabilities. Their philosophy is simply to look first, at everyone's ability. Professionally, I have learned a lot of tough love & a pragmatic attitude are essential to recovery. My concern, after my dog safely survived her perioperative course, was to get her home & not waste whatever precious time we had left together. I never looked at her & thought "my poor three legged dog". She was the same dog I loved the day before & will love forever. I didn't treat her differently. If she wanted something, she had to figure it out. She had to fall, so she knew how to get up. I had to dry my tears, sit on my hands and let her work it out. I owed her that. I knew the things that made her happy & was determined she would enjoy them again ASAP and she did almost immediately. She didn't miss her leg then & doesn't now. In some ways, the past six months have been the best of our time together. Dogs just don't care. They are what they are & they work with it.

You can't let the thought of an injury to another leg limit her recovery. Of course you will always be careful, but the fact is, they don't live in a bubble. You do your best everyday & have to be comfortable with that. Isabelle had a different cancer in her other leg & had surgery last month. She had a wide resection & now has some difficulty because of the large closure/scar tissue…things happen that we can't control…My dog has severe arthritis in her spine, many other dogs here have arthritis or other health challenges they live well with everyday. Zaria can too! Love her, learn from her, and give her permission to find her joy.

Having said all of this, does not mean I'm not completely crazy, & don't worry excessively about Isabelle's every breath. I just try to never let it interfere with our time together or her independence. There's always someone here to help with the rest.

Oh…the Power Paws socks Dakota's mom was talking about are available for shipping to Canada….

Wishing you & Zaria an uneventful recovery, and a happy, peaceful, Tripwad future,

Cynthia & Isabelle

Northeastern PA
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17 February 2011 - 9:56 pm
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Sorry to hear about Zaria, but glad you found

When we first brought Zack home, I bought a 50 ft roll of industrial carpet runner, and then just cut it with scissors to fit where we needed it. It had rubber backing, and stayed put for the most part (I cut it so that it ran entire lengths of the floor, so it was always somewhat wedged up against something like the bottom of a cabinet or a threshold between rooms.)

We also have hardwood steps, so I bought a bunch of doormats from Wal-Mart (same type of industrial-looking with rubber backing). They were ribbed and cut nicely down the middle and fit the stair tread perfectly. I used that weird criss-cross carpet tape for those on the stairs and they have literally not moved for over six months now - first with our old, slow tripawd and now with our super-fast tripawd who bolts up & down them.

Be prepared for lots of mixed emotions over the next few weeks. But, as soon as Zaria is feeling better and off the meds, her personality will return and she'll have you smiling/laughing at how well she adapts.

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.

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