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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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13.5 year old Aussie - it
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13 April 2016 - 11:22 am
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Nelly has suspected cancerous tumour on her leg and tomorrow I am going to the vet to either amputate or euthanize.  Tests we have done show no evidence the cancer has spread.  The tumour is necrotic and large.  She is now in pain and limping.  My husband is concerned that she won’t do well with amputation because of her age.  Any examples out there of a dog of this age and size (she is 48 lbs) NOT doing well after? 

Here and Now

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13 April 2016 - 11:51 am
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You will find MANY examples in the Tripawds Blogs , videos and photo galleries. Start here for help navigating this site, and consider registering to take full advantage of the many resources this community has to offer. And feel free to call the toll-free tripawds Helpline anytime if you’d like to talk!


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13 April 2016 - 12:45 pm
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Oh gosh. So sorry you and Nelly find yourself here. You are in the right place though, for support and information from those of us who jave first hand experience.

What does your vet think? Does he believe Nelly is a good candidate for surgery? It already sounds like she is pretty much getti g arpu d on three legs already.

MOreso than age, although that’s certainly a factor, it’s more about Nelly’s “attitude”, her overall zest for life, etc.

Os she on pain meds now? I mention that simply because, if her pain can be adequately managed for a day or so, it gives you time to do some research and gather information.

In answer ro your question, yes, many senior sogs have sone very well after amputation and fotten great quality time. Three who instantly come to mind are FRANKLIN, SHOOTER, and SAM. Jist a guess, but I think they all probably weighed arou d 50 lbs.

Did the vet do an additional test or just the “visual”. It sou ds like, regardless of the cause, the amputation is the only way to rid your Nelly of the pain Sure, recovery is rough for about two weeks (some less, some more), but once recovery is complete dogs feel soooo much better with that painful leg gone!

Check out the links Admin gave you. Don’t hesitate to call the 844 TRIPAWDS Helpline. Have ro head out, but others will chime in also. Hang in there! Whatever decision you make, it is clear you lpve Nelly. Any dec made out of love is the “right” decision! We are here to support you.


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!

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13 April 2016 - 1:07 pm
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Hi There,

Age of course is one factor to consider, but only one. Is she otherwise healthy? Does she still seem interested in life? Even if she has slowed down a bit (normal with age)?

Of course consult w/ your vet, but amputation is not nearly as bad as we (as humans) first imagine it to be. And she’s got size in her favor, since the smaller pups generally have an easier time. Our Ellie was 10+ years old (which is definitely “senior” for a large breed dog) and she did just fine. The only real change for Ellie was that her walks got short, much to her displeasure. 

Good luck! I’m sure others will chime in w/ their experiences too.

Denise, Bill and Angel Ellie.

Active 10+ Pyr mix suddenly came up lame with ACL tear in left rear leg. Scheduled for a TPLO but final pre-op x-rays indicated a small suspicious area, possibly OSA, which could have caused the ACL tear. Surgeon opened the knee for TPLO but found soft bone. Biopsy came back positive for OSA. Became a Tripawd 9/18/14. Carbo6 with Cerenia and Fluids. Pain free and living in the moment. Crossed the Bridge on 7/12/15 after probable spread of cancer to her cervical spine. A whole lifetime of memories squeezed into 10 months. Here's her story: Eloise

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13 April 2016 - 4:54 pm
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Her size is not a problem at all – Murphy is about 50 lbs and has done well.

Her age is the only issue.  How is Nelly otherwise?  Is she healthy?  Active?  Recovery is not easy and takes about 2-3 weeks or so.  Most dogs do fairly well after that.  Those couple of weeks, though, can be a roller coaster of emotions to get through.  You really need to make sure that you keep up on her pain medications around the clock.

We’ll be here for you.


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


The Rainbow Bridge

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14 April 2016 - 9:19 am
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Just now catching up on your story. I know that this is a tough call for you. Let us know what you decided OK? We are here for you.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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