TRIPAWDS: Home to 15995 Members and 1766 Blogs.

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.

Join The Tripawds Community

Learn how to help three legged dogs and cats in the forums below. Browse and search as a guest or register for free and get full member benefits:

  • Instant post approval.
  • Private messages to members.
  • Subscribe to favorite topics.
  • Live Chat and much more!


Be More DogNEW! Be More Dog – Learning to Live in The Now

Get the new book by the Tripawds founders for life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Download the e-book, and find fun Be More Dog apparel and gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.

Please consider registering
Forum Scope


Forum Options

Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
Register Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon-c
6 y/o St. Bernard front leg amputation... what now?
sp_NewTopic Add Topic
24 January 2020 - 5:23 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hi all,

A friend found this website after my baby girl Caribou had her front left leg amputated due to bone cancer.  She is on day 2 of being home with us, and we are struggling with seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  She is so sad!  We get the occassional tail wag, but I know in her eyes she is depressed and confused.  

I guess my main questions now are:

1.  How long will it take for the swelling in her chest and stomach to go down?  And when should I fit her new harness on?  

2.  Am I pushing her too hard when I help her outside?  She gets worn out almost immediately after standing up, and lays in the grass to rest after making it outside.  Should I let her be?  Should I coax her into getting back up and inside?  Is the exercise and practice good for her or does she need more time?  It has been 5 days since her limb was removed.  

3.  Do dogs ever understand why we take their limbs?  I worry about this every day…. does she know it was because she was sick?  Does she think she is being punished?  

Any advice is helpful.  We have never had a handicapped dog, and we want to do everything possible to make sure she is happy.  

Here and Now

Forum Posts: 12302
Member Since:
25 April 2007
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
24 January 2020 - 6:46 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Welcome and best wishes for Caribou, please consider registering to take full advantage of the Many Tripawds resources. For starters, your forum posts will not require moderation.

1. Every dog is different. Swelling and bruising normally reduces within the first week, and can be helped with hot/cold compress therapy. Don’t cofuse swelling with a seroma , which is common and can be drained if necessary.

2. No need for any exercises until she is healed. Confinement and short leashed potty time is all she needs right now. After the stitches are out consult with a certified rehab therapist for specific exercises you can do to help rebuild strength and keep Caribou fit and strong. FYI: Walks do not build strength, only stamina.

3. Try not to personify this experience. Dogs are very resilient they overcome and adapt. They do not ask “why” this happened.

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you’re sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Please keep us posted. Your future forum posts will not require moderation. Meanwhile, start here for help finding all the helpful Tripawds resources and assistance programs.


Forum Posts: 19490
Member Since:
22 February 2013
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
24 January 2020 - 9:12 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

You have come to the right place for support, understanding  and information.  Qe understand  the me tal snd physical  exhaustion getting to this point… the fear…the panic…the lack of slip…the second guessing…yeah, we get it.

Okay…deep breaths… seriously…take some deep breaths….inhale slowly…….exhale slowly..repeat ten times. 

Caribou just had MAJOR surgery, as well as adjust to three legs, while on some good pain meds (hopefully).    This is very, very, very early in recovery.   Humans would probably  still be in the hospital on a morphine  drip!

Yes, just help her out for potty breaks.  And if she needs to lay down and rest after potty, that’s  fine.  She may enjoy being outside for a few minites.  Then, after she’s rested a bit, it’s okay to help her back in.  What’s  the weather like where you are?  Do you have a blanket  she can lay on and soak up some sun?  Resting is EXACTLY  what she needs now….smart girl!

No, you aren’t  seeing “sadness” or depression  in her eyes.   Yoi are seeing the look of a dog on some good paun meds.  You are seeing behavior  of a dog recovering  from major surgery who doesn feel like running a marathon quite yet!!!

How much does she weigh and what pain meds is she on, the dose and frequency.   Is she showing  any signs of pain?  

Is she eating , drinking, pottying okay?  Some dogs don’t  feel like eating much at first and most don’t  poop for several days due to the meds.  Drinking  and peeing are important though.

Recovery is no picnic for a couple of weeks.  This is the phase where we think we did this TO our dogs.  Soon though, you will be saying  you did this FOR your dog!!!   

All Caribou  knows is his pain from that bum leg is gone.   As Admin Guy said, dogs don’t  think in human terms (they’re  too smart for that).  She just knows she is adjusting to a new way of walking, and doing so at her own pace on her own timeframe.

You’ve  already had a victory to celebrate,  and I think you missed it!!   Ypu arr fetting sone tail wags already! Yes!  That is a victory! Some dogs take a lot longer to give us a tail wag.  Every  seemingly  “little” improvement  like that is a HUGE improvement  during recoveru!!

Stay strong and confident  around Caribou.  Keep your energy level pawsit snd upbest.  Lots of praise, lots of smiles, lots of exaggerated  “good girl”.   She’ll pick up on your energy.

Stay connect and update when you can.  TRY and get some rest…do your deep breathing exercises…and eat some chocolate!!


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!

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 27777
Member Since:
25 April 2007
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
24 January 2020 - 9:25 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hi April and Caribou! I’m sorry you had to join us but am so glad you posted. What you are feeling is so normal, and to be expected. But it’s also super important to learn how to Be More Dog and set a pawsitive tone so that Caribou will follow your lead. The more optimistic and hopeful you are, the more she will give that energy right back to you.

I agree with what Admin and Benny55 have said: sounds like Caribou is on some good pain medication and her behavior is completely normal. As long as she is eating, drinking and eliminating, she’s on the right track for a normal recovery.

Just wondering if you’ve talked to the vet about the swelling? It’s to be expected, especially with bigger dogs, and is probably a harmless fluid build-up known as a seroma . Let them know what’s going on just in case. They may want you to apply a warm compress for a few minutes a couple of times a day to help the body reabsorb the fluid. 

Let us know how she’s doing. We are here for you!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Forum Timezone: America/Denver
Most Users Ever Online: 946
Currently Online:
Guest(s) 67
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 1097
Members: 11331
Moderators: 2
Admins: 3
Forum Stats:
Groups: 4
Forums: 23
Topics: 16442
Posts: 231195
Administrators: admin, jerry, jim
Moderators: betaman, krun15
Tripawds is brought to you by Tripawds.