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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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3 year Saint Benard needing back leg amputated
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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
19 February 2018
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19 February 2018 - 8:23 am
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Looking for any advice….we have a 3 year old saint benard that was hit by a car and damaged her back leg to the point of no repair. Her only option is amputate it. We do not want to put her down but would like to know that she will be okay to get around on only 3 legs and not making her suffer more. So scared on what to do and what is the right decision.

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 26350
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25 April 2007
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19 February 2018 - 11:00 am
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Hello there and welcome. I’m so sorry to hear about your pup, what a traumatic experience for all of you. What’s her name? Where is she now? At the vet? 

Of course you’re scared! Talk about being put on the spot, nobody ever expects to make that kind of decision so fast. But you found a good place to help you figure out what you want to do. 

First, what does your vet think about her being a good candidate as a Tripawd? Are they confident she doesn’t have existing health issues that could be detrimental to life on three legs? And is the whole leg damaged or could they save it at least to the elbow in order to fit her for a prosthetic, if you’re keen on the idea?

I’ve been told by many orthopedic vets that size alone should not be the determining factor in whether or not a dog can be happy on three legs. If you look around here, you’ll find lots of examples of Saints who did really well as Tripawds. Front or rear leg, they have the same chance at being happy on three, provided that they’re kept slim and the pet parent remains conscientious about the right kinds of activity to encourage (and to avoid). 

Here are some search results about Saints (all of which lost their leg to cancer, however). I hope this helps. Let us know what you decide OK?

Tripawd Tuesday: Chuck the Saint

Dozer’s Blog

London’s Blog

Patchy’s story

Indi’s blog

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 32
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10 September 2016
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19 February 2018 - 1:20 pm
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We had a Saint 5/6 years old, front leg amputation. (bone cancer) She was amazing, We couldn’t believe how quickly she hopped around. Obviously a bit wobbly to start until she got the wait right for toilet duties. The back step was no problem. !!! Dogs (and cats) do very well on 3 legs. ” They have 3 legs and a spare . ” Sure someone here told me that. big-grin

If there are no other physical problems, you have to give her and yourself a chance of LIFE together.

This site is a wonderful, supportive site. Masses of information.  They were all here for us in our worst nightmare. 

Must tell you that Patchy’s story gave us the strength to go through with amputation. Please find and read.

I wish you well , thoughts are with you.

Fiona and Jim xx

The Rainbow Bridge

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19 February 2018 - 2:45 pm
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Aww thank you Fiona and Jim, your sweet words about the community mean so much.

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

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19 February 2018 - 3:19 pm
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Hello and welcome.

I’m sorry your girl got hit by a car!  That must have been terrifying.

I can’t help directly with the size, which I assume is your concern.  I’ve had two rear amp Tripawds although both are/were small.  Maggie lost her left rear leg to a mast cell tumor.  She hopped happily through life for almost 4 years.  My current Tripawd was hit by a car at 7 months old and lost her right rear leg as a result.  Elly is now just over 3 years old and doing just fine.  She can do everything a dog her size and age can do. 

Because Elly will spend most all of her life as a Tripawd I am very conscientious about her weight and fitness level. We work on something every day for her core strength or balance through food puzzles and games, trick and obedience training, and balance exercises.  We spread everything out over the week so we don’t over do or over stress any one part of her body. 

Hopefully your girl is a good candidate for amputation.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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19 February 2018
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19 February 2018 - 3:52 pm
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Thank you Jerry for your comments.    She is currently at the animal hospital and they have completed her amputation.   Her leg was broken in too many places there was no way to save it.    We talked with the vet and they were very pretty positive that she would do well.   We are just very nervous about all of this and have another large dog in our home that is very active and hoping she will still do ok with him.    I have already ordered on of the harnesses from the website in hopes of making things easier for her and us to help her get use to her new life.    She’s our baby and just want her to be happy and healthy.   Any advice is greatly welcomed.    

Here and Now

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19 February 2018 - 4:22 pm
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ssktsyeo said
…Any advice is greatly welcomed.      

Please start here for help navigating the MANY helpful resources this community has to offer. Bookmark Jerry’s Required Reading List , read the FAQs, search the forums and blogs with specific questions, or download the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns.

Thanks for the update and best wishes for a speedy recovery!


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19 February 2018 - 4:50 pm
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Sorry you are going through this, but your big pup WILL handle veing on three with a great ability to adapt!

Read all the great links everyone has given you. They are INVALUABLE!

Rexovery is rough for a week or two. Mobility may take a few days before your pup get his “sea legs”, so no worries there. If you jave hardwood, itsw important to get non-slip scatter rugs for traction before he comes home.

A bed that is suplortive as opposed to squishy is important for his jints and also helps him gwt up without slipping. The Big Barker Bed in our gear deparment (I think thatt where you’ll fi d it) is excellent for larger dogs.

Getting the pain meds managed can be a bit tricky. It IS major surgery and it does hurt- The hospital pain meds are usually out of their system by day three so you might see a crash then. Ost dogs come home with Tramadol, Gabapentin, Rimadyl and an antibiotic.

STAY CONNECTED!!! We’ve all been through the recovery period. Many of us even doubted our decision during this time. Just remember, you are doing this FOR your pup and not TO him!! He’ll be romping with his buddy in no time. His buddy will probably give him his space for now though.

ASo, we have the TRIPAWDS HELPLINE 1 844 TRIPAWD staffed by volunteers to help you with any questions.

When you go pick him up, don’t even bother tomlook at his incision. He just needs to see your smiling face telling him what a good boy he is!! When you do sneak a peek later, be prepared…the Vets get clipper happy!


Lots of hugs

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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