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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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Member Since:
14 February 2011
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18 February 2011 - 12:44 pm
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Dear Everyone,

My goodness.. thank you so much for the wonderful information !!!  and most important the strong and encouraging words.  I have not taken any of this lightly, and will try my hardest to be the strong pack leader she needs...   (Although at times, I think she likes to believe she is indeed the leader)...  

Yesterday was a hard day for her... seems to have taken a step backwards.. falling , tiring easy,  refusing to walk, shaking, and I think a little "institutionalized" with still being at the vet for over a month now.  We are literally counting the hours until we bring her home on Saturday morning.    So yesterday was a day of tears for us too.


I have managed to find a few mats that I think will work, and have got them ready to go where ever she needs them to be. 


PS:  I'm from Vancouver, and really lucky to have a water therapy rehab located in nearby Abbotsford...   Once she is feeling up to it, stitches out and doc says we are good to go, she is joining ! 🙂

Thanks everyone again for such great advise.   I will let you all know how she does first day home... 

On The Road

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24 September 2009
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18 February 2011 - 1:28 pm
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Welcome to the recovery roller coaster, just remember to enjoy the ride! Thanks for the update.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
14 February 2011
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19 February 2011 - 8:00 pm
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Hi Everyone...  just a quick update.  Got to vet at 11:00 and turns out he didn't want to let her go as she is still having fluid draining from her incision area.  Operation was last Friday. So 8 days later.  He feels he will have to go back in and "trim down the bone" as he thinks it is to big and causing her to much discomfort and also contributing to the drain problem and additional pain.  He wants to wait another few weeks to ascertain if this is the case but we are looking at 99%.  Wow.. seems to never end for this poor girl.   So we had to wait a couple of hours - go back to get her at 1:00.    Now she is home,  spent the day outside in the sun, but we are having major problems with coping in the house.  She is 100 lbs, aggressive when her hind end is touched .. (even before the surgery) so she is not wanting any "help" at all near that area in terms of lifting or assisting her.  She is having an awful time moving around, and even trying to manage a single step up to the house is a nightmare.  Took 3 people and allot of coaxing to finally get it done.     Finally the only way she would do it is by me physically crawling and showing her what she needed to do to move mat to mat. 

Doctor wants her walking for 10 minutes every 3 hours -  So far today we have not managed to get her to walk 10 minutes in total. 

She has been at the vet for over a month, the other leg is still in recovery,  so I don't want to push her to much but I'm very concerned of the muscle myapothy in the good leg. 


I really hope this was just the day 1 roller coaster ride and tomorrow turns out to be a better day....


But -  she is home.



In your heart, where I belong.
Member Since:
9 February 2011
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19 February 2011 - 8:33 pm
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I know this is incredibly hard--I can't even imagine what she's had to go through---but the visual image of you giving a doggie demo for how to move around has me cracking up. Anyone who does that for their dog is cementing a very strong bond. There is a place for you in heaven for all this work. (Oh, and the vet, too. Seems like he's working very hard.)

Please keep us posted. I'll be concentrating all my good thoughts toward Zaria and visualizing how to move around, so you won't have to give any more demonstrations!

Shari, Dakota's wrangler

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

Member Since:
14 February 2011
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21 February 2011 - 9:56 pm
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Hi Everyone.............  Tuesday .. day 9 after surgery and home since Saturday.   Things are not well.  The "good" leg.. that was operated on a month ago I believe is failing as well.  Our fears coming true.  She cannot walk now.  When we brought her home she could a wee bit.  If we assisted with the towel under the belly move as a sling, she walked "fine"..    Last night saw the end of that.  She is now almost immobile.  Not going for her food or her water.  Unless we physicallly pull, llift, and carry - she is not moving.  Also I see the warning "tap tap tap " of the hind leg, which means bad news.


I am trying to convince myself this is normal - 9 days later - with the only other leg just being operated on.. but I don't think so.    We cannot get her into the house without 3 people to help her up 1 stair.  Just 1 step... and she can't do it.  She is depressed, not eating and crying in the night.  We have not slept very well ourselves..  I toook today off of work to watch her, but have to go to work tomorrow.  What is the answer here ?  I know she cannot lay immobile on that "bad" leg for 6 hours .. but I can't be here all day either.   I also know she needs to rest it, as it is the only back leg she has and has to be able to support her 100 lb frame.  I'm just so overwhelmed. 


The kindness of strangers................... my husband went to go buy wood to make a ramp for her for the 1 step on his lunch break.  Told the people at the lumber yard the specs of the wood for the ramp,  of course they asked what it was for, and once Rob told them, they hurried to cut it and prepare it to fit our house and when he went to pay, they wouldn't let him. 


Small joys in a period where I feel this story is going to end very badly. 


Thanks for reading my posts,  I'm not sure who else could possibly understand this fear other than you all.   

In your heart, where I belong.
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9 February 2011
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21 February 2011 - 10:12 pm
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Is Zaria a candidate for a cart? Would she give it a go, do you think? I don't remember if you've said how old she is; I'm just wondering what her general physical condition was before all of this.

I'm so sorry your family and Zaria are having to endure this. I'm sure it's very discouraging right now. If she can just get past the hump of the original surgery and recover that leg...What do  you think about trying her in a cart?


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

Member Since:
27 February 2010
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21 February 2011 - 10:47 pm
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I'm so sorry - you are having a very rough time. 

When we brought Sophie (a golden retriever) home after her surgery - she was very reluctant to move around - and I was a basket-case - which didn't help at all. It is so difficult to see our dogs missing a limb, and not know how to help them. But, what the others have said, above, is so true. It is so important to be strong for them - to treat them as you did before. They will figure out how to do things - to get what they want and need. They do adapt far more readily than we do. I know it is overwhelming. It took my 12 year old son giving me a lecture about how I was treating our dog like she was freak for me to realize that I had to buck up and be strong for my dog. Once I got a grip - and starting letting Sophie try to do things for herself - even though it freaked me out - she recovered remarkably well. And she was 12.5 years old when she had her surgery. I came on to Tripawds and freaked out here - where Sophie couldn't hear me. 

If, however, your dog is not able to move because there is something physically wrong - you need to get her back to the vet - don't hesitate to call your vet with any concerns. As for tomorrow - you said you had to go to work for 6 hours - if you can keep her in a confined space for the time you are at work - with food and water - and a non-slip surface so if she gets up she won't slip and fall - she should be ok. Is there a neighbor or friend you could get to come in and check on her? 

The first couple of weeks after surgery are always difficult - generally more difficult on us than the dogs. Many of us slept on the floor with our dogs - or didn't sleep much for the first few days, at least. Finding something that they will eat is sometimes difficult. Their appetites are often "off." 

My advice - keep checking with your vet - if there's something wrong with her remaining back leg - you need to get some advice about that sooner rather than later. Set up a "recovery area" for Zaria where she is safe and comfortable. Keep posting on here where people can help to calm your fears. Be a strong leader for your dog. If you're afraid - she'll be afraid. An injured dog with a weak pack leader is vulnerable and that is not a good situation for recovery. 

Hang in there ! 

Tana and Angel Sophie

Sophie (1998 – 2010)

"Going Dog" def: living every day in the moment

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."


Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
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22 February 2011 - 12:09 am
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I'm just so sorry about the hardship you are having for Zaria's recovery.


Take a deep breath.  Relax. And let go of all of your scared feelings for the time being.  It's not the end.  Her case is special but it can be conquered.  She's only 7 years old and she doesn't have a life threatening illness -  so she's going to be okay.  It's not easy and believe you me, I know!  But you are going to get her through this!   There's no magic answer but you are going to get her through this and get her on her feet.  I just know it.   But let's just remember, she's going to be okay.  Just keep saying that and start believing it!  (I wished I had had someone say that to me during Comet's recovery since I went a little bonkers from worry)  

You guys have been through so much and Zaria has come this far.  Being scared and fearing the worst will hamper you right now.
I say all of this lovingly as I remember how I was with my Comet.  Plus, I have gone through three femur head hip surgeries on previous dogs.  Not easy.

Her other leg is weak as you know, but it can be strengthened.  It's still in recovery itself.  Talk to your vet on how to get the good leg strenghtened without causing it harm.   The amputation itself is super major surgery so she has got a lot of inflammation and possibly phantom pain (in addition to a weak leg).  Is she on meds for any of that? 

Let us know and we'll try to help.  We have a fellow tripawder here that is a vet so if things are progressing then we'll see if Pam (user: tazziedog) can lend her advice.


Again, I'm so sorry it's not going well and I'm so sorry Zaria has been through so much. 

Sending you all my best.

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.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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22 February 2011 - 11:13 am
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Melanie, I hope things are better today, I'm so sorry. How is she doing?

I will be honest here, and say that my gut instinct would be to get her to another orthopedic surgeon ASAP if that's at all possible. I know you have already a long-term relationship with the surgeon who's been working on her, but it couldn't hurt to have a second opinion right now.

She should not be in so much pain that she snips and acts aggressive. If she is, it probably means her pain meds aren't strong enough. If your current vet isn't helping you in this area, find someone else. pain management is critical for a successful recovery.

What advice has your current surgeon given regarding her situation? If things are not improving and she can't stand long enough to urinate or drink water, I would find another doctor right away.

One month of going through all this is enough to send anyone over the edge. I don't blame you for feeling like it's hopeless, but if you can get another vet involved who can put her on the right track to recovery, things will get better. Try to be strong, I know it's so hard.

Please let us know how she's doing OK? We are all thinking of you.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

22 February 2011 - 11:40 am
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I'm sorry things are so difficult. I think Jerry's advice was excellent.

I will keep you in my thoughts. I know you must be exhausted, but try to stay hopeful. It will help Zaria


Member Since:
14 February 2011
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22 February 2011 - 1:16 pm
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Hi Everyone, 

Thank you all so much...   Today has been already a bit of a roller coaster. The night was good - she slept well.  (at least one of us did 🙂 ) and only cried out one time.  We got her up at 5:00am and got her outside with a bit less efforts than yesterday so that part is good.  Again at 8:00 for another "walk" and again a bit better.  I'm hoping that she was just sore yesterday.  She is by far not able to walk without the "sling" we have made, but at least she stood up which w as allot better than yesterday. 

We have a vet appointment today as he wanted to check her himself after she was home a couple of days anyway - so will let you know the outcome of today's visit. 

She is safe while I'm at work,  food and water directly beside her and the floors are all covered in non-slip mats.  She won't get up anyway - but even if she did then she is in a safe place.  We are trying to find a home care worker who can come daily and at least get her up and perhaps do some massage on her healing leg.  We have our vet's office, the groomer, the food store and her boarding kennel all trying to locate someone who can do this job for us.  I'll feel much better if I know she is being looked at during the day and being forced to get up. 

As for the suggestions you have all made - they are wonderful - thank you.  (The cart  -  she would not do willingly , we will definately try if we get to that point though.)  The 2nd opinion on the vet....... yes I agree on that -  the vet however did get us 2nd and 3rd and even a 4th opinon.  Some were through his practise, but others were independent.  One was apparently the "best" and he was not even located in our province.  At this point I don't want to remove her from his care becasue he is very involved with her.  (Remember he has had her physically for the past month at his own practice for the healing., so he knows her very well.    I'm confident in him that he is doing everything he can......... but believe me if this does not get any better by Friday we will be driving her ourself to get a 15th opinion if needed.


As for the pain medication -  I think you are completely right.  I am going to ask vet today to re-check the pain meds today and perhaps increase them.


Thank you very much once more for this forum, and for listening.  I'll let you know soon as I can what the vet tells us tonight.

Leicester, NY
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23 August 2010
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22 February 2011 - 1:42 pm
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I am sorry about Zaria but please know that I know what you are not alone. There is light at the end of the tunnel so to speak even though all seems hopeless right now.

You can read our blog Daisy2010 but in summary, 12 yr old Daisy had a rough start as an amputee. Hit by a car in Aug 2010, tried to save the damaged leg, amputated the leg, 4 weeks of battling infection and med reactions, internal bleeding from the antibiotics for the leg infection that killed of the good bacteria in her gut. Finally stabilized (after 8 weeks) to the point where we only had to get up with her 2x night. She started using her remaining back leg but never regained the ability to hop around on three legs without assistance. Drove her 45 minutes each way to Physical Therapy for 6 weeks which helped but unfortunately ran out of money. We never delved deeper into the cause of not being able to bear weight on her remaining back leg. It may be physical or mental but at this point we cant afford to find out. 

I too thought Daisy was depressed. In hindsight I think she was looped out from meds, trying to adjust to a new body and figure things out, feeling crappy from 2 operations, sore from using muscles needed to compensate for 1 less leg and at 12 years old its the equivilant of being an 80 year old person. I don't think my 50 yr old body would have the fortitude to go through what she did.

Fast forward to today: We bought Daisy a wheelchair and she has been using it since October. She is happy dog and glows with love . She has figured out how to flip herself over from one side to the other. She can hold "it" for the 8-9 hrs that we are at work. I started taking her to doggy daycare a few days a week for 4 hours and have noticed something…..she has started to make attempts to get up on her own.

Be strong. Dont be discouraged (like I was) when you read "my dog is running up the stairs on day 5" , they all heal at different rates. Remember she has been through 2 MAJOR operations. 

I agree with Shari, Perhaps look into a cart. You can rent them to use for short term rehab from K9 carts or purchase one from Eddies. Either way, a cart should take the weight off of the remaining back leg until it can heal and start building muscle.


Keep us posted.  

Julie and tripawd Daisy

Daisy earned her wings on Oct 22, 2011 at 14 years old

She is now the official greeter at the rainbow bridge

Everyone is guaranteed a welcome sniff and Dalmatian smile

22 February 2011 - 1:45 pm
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Hi Melanie,

I'm late to this post and don't really have any different advice to offer.  You sound like you have a good plan going forward, and hopefully Zaria is doing a little better.

Your pup has been through so much (as have you!).  I hope you get some pain relief from the vet today, and that you are successful in finding some sort of care during the day.

You are doing all you can for your girl- I hope things start getting better for both of you.



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14 February 2011
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22 February 2011 - 9:14 pm
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Thank you - Thank you - Thank you


I needed that message about Daisy... and I needed all of your messages,  but particularily the message about Daisy. 

I had two people today tell me to put Zaria ``down`...  

`Believe me, I am NOWHERE at that spot, but so nice to not have to defend it !!!  My gosh, we are only a couple of days in yet... and I abhor the idea that she has to be on a schedule of healing that suits `me`...   she is on her own sched and will be forever.


Update:  I came home tonight from work and the little girl (not so little) - has managed to figure out how to get to places she shouldn`t go.  🙂  She mastered the ramp into the truck and mastered it down.  Was happy at the vets and all the attention she got.  In the end she is 78 lbs (originally 108 lbs)...   and she is badly bruised and has allot of fluid build up.  They have increased the pain relief for her, but detect nothing `wrong`with the GOOD leg...  so vet thinks allot is her absolute state of mind, medication, being home after over a month, tiredness, shock, etc...  I`m going to believe in that as today she was more like my dog than I could have imagined. 


We have a long way to go though..  still can`t stand without us holding her up (unless we are at work, and then manages to `problem solve``) 

Tonight was a good night. 


Thank you for your concern and care and like I said to those 2 people today who gave up on her,  Ìm not...  i`m going to be in this for rehab, and recovery...   she`s my  girl and we are getting through this together`.


you are all inspirations -  I told my family tonight that knowing i could log on and find others going through this, who knew what I was feeling has really helped me.  Thank  you.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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22 February 2011 - 10:45 pm
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OH! That is excellent news!  I'm so thrilled you had a good day!

Instead of a towel sling, have you tried using a shopping bag (the reusable kind you buy at the grocery store)?  You may have to double two of them because her size.   But just cut the gussett part with scissors so you now have a sling with handles. It will be way easier on you to use it than a towel.  And it will cover more of her body than a towel.

If you don't understand, I'll try to find my drawing of how it works. 

I'm just happy that you had a good day!  As you can see, it is better to NOT talk to people who don't understand.  That's really mean and inconsiderate to tell you to put Zaria down.  No offense, but those are the type of people that discard dogs like they are Wednesday's trash.


Let's hope for an even better day tomorrow!

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.

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