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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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8 year old Dane with Osteosarcoma in right from leg.
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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
19 September 2018
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20 September 2018 - 12:54 pm
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Good afternoon, I am writing in regard to my 8 1/2 year old Great Dane who was just diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. The recommendation is to amputate her front right leg in an effort to theoretically remove all the cancer. The other option is pain management .  She is otherwise fit and weighs an appropriate 125 lbs.

Our family is looking for anyone’s help and counsel about the quality of life for her and her human caretakers if she were to have just the right front leg.  I’ve read they adapt quite well in general but we are, after all, not buying a lot of time in the best case.  But if she would be likely to adjust without too much difficulty and would otherwise be her happy self, 9-12+ more months would be worth it.

I appreciate any help.

Thank you.

Here and Now

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25 April 2007
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20 September 2018 - 1:08 pm
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Welcome and best wishes for you pup! What’s her name?

We proceeded with Jerry’s amputation and created this whole community because of the Great Dane “Moose” we saw digging up gophers with one front leg. You will find many other giant breed success stories here. Use the advanced search above to find forum topics, search all blogs here , and start here for help finding the many other resources. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Forum Posts: 9
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4 September 2018
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22 September 2018 - 7:35 pm
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Hello.  We are 5 days post amp with our greyhound.   We were very conflicted with this decision and now that we did it I could not be happier.   I am absolutely amazed at his resilience.    He is trying to do everything he did before.   I actually have to contain his enthusiasm.   Dogs do not have psychological effects of amputation like people do.   They just adapt.    It is hard in the beginning because that front leg has to bear the weight.  His leg would shake and he would need to take breaks but it has gotten stronger and he is figuring it out how to get around.   

We almost did not go through with it because I was worried about him being anxious in hospital and how he would be after.    I could not be happier with the decision.    It is harder for us then it is for them.  

I was told that this is extremely painful and waiting keeps them in lots of pain so its either put the dog down or amputate.   Our dog had so much life in him the idea of putting him down was not an option.   

I hope this helps.   You will be amazed at how well your dog will do. 


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24 September 2018 - 3:04 pm
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Sorry y you find yourselves here, but you are DEFINITELY  in the right place for support, information, and an understanding  of all the emotions involved in making a decision  on a treatment plan.

I’ll share my experience in making a decision  to amputate  when my Happy Hannah (a 125 lb Bull Mastiff, 8 1/2 yrs) was first diagnosed.  Keep in mind, I had NOT found this wonderful  community until day six AFTER her surgery .

When my Vet first mentioned the word “amputation “, I said absolutely  not!!!  Besides, she  was doing “okay” on some pain meds….until she wasn’t .

So, at his suggestion I went  ahead and spoke with an Orthopedic  Surgeon.  I could not imagine  that  a vig chunkmpf a firl like mu Happy Hannah could handle walking on three legs.  And, like so many others, I was grappling with “would it be worth it” to “put her through that ordeal”.Long story short and after non-stop  tears, I went ahead and set up the surgery …..and then cancelled  It!  But once she started holding her rear leg up, that was it.  I proceeded.

My other dog Bodie and I stayed in the waiting room  all day and into the night until I was certain  she was out of surgery  and handled it well.  I got to go back  (with Bodie in tow) amd kiss her good night.  Of course, she was completely  zonked out!!

The next day I went to pick her up and she WALKED OUT ON ALL THREE WITH TAIL WAGGING!!!

Basically had some pain meds and no guidance  from that point forward.  Didn’t  know squat about traction ,  what to expect during recovery, etc.

Those first days and nights were rough!!    Lots of whining and restlessness.  No sleep.

I joined Tripawds on day six scared out of my mind I had made a HORRIBLE  mistake!!!  They threw me a life line and pulled me back from the edge.   I gained knowledge and support from invaluable  input  from people  who had invaluable  first hand experience!!  INVALUABLE!


After recovery  (which was no picnic), I was able to say without hesitation  I did this FOR my Happy Hannah and not TO her!!!!   And you WILL be able to say the same for your sweet pup too!!

Probably  one of THE most important love lessons  our Dog Soulds teach us on this journey  is to Be More Dog .   LIVE IN THE NOW, IN THE PRESENT. 

Dogs do NOT count days on a calendar.   No dog, even big Great Danes, have a time frame stamped  anywhere on their butts!  And they sure don’t  care about “statistics” or “prognosis ”  That doesn’t  mean squat to them!!    All they care about is being loved and spoiled and being by your side WITHOUT PAIN!!!

One of our Great Dane Warriors is Eurydice.  She is an Angel now, but she lives life to the fullest and never  had a “bad day” as a tripawd.  And she is one of the most inspirational  stories  of a Dog Soul and her human living  in the NOW making  every moment count!  Sje was a front let her too.

Another Great Dane hero was Atlas.  She lived life large for two years AND had Wobblers too!!   And that was after two Veterinarians said she was not a good candidate  for amputation!  Had his owner given up, she would have only had a few more weeks with Atas as opppsed to two years!!!   STAY CONNECTED!!!!  ASK ANY QUESTIONS  YOU CAN THINK OF….most likely  we all asked the same things!!

Keep is updated and let us know how we can help.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!


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!

Forum Posts: 2
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19 September 2018
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5 October 2018 - 3:11 pm
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Our Nala is 96 hours post-op and been home for 24 hours.  I’m impressed with her willingness to walk outside and come back in, bearing more of the weight and coordination with each try.  She had a catheter in the hospital for three days and has only peed in her bed so far, and has gone outside yet.. Hasn’t pooped yet but from what I have read this is normal (Since it’s been four days I’m expecting it to start soon).

Constantly changing bedding so far and the first night resulted in no sleep.  Still moaning quite a bit, probably as much for close attention as anything.

Can anyone comment on whether they quickly adjust to their normal bathroom habits.  Being pretty lazy anyway, I don’t want her to get too comfortable knowing she’ll be quickly cared for when she wets her bed.  It takes effort to get up and go out and she’s shown no sign of wanting to make it.

Thanks for your kind replies and helpful assistance!

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 26350
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5 October 2018 - 3:52 pm
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Hi Michael, I’m glad that the surgery is behind you, that’s terrific.

You’re right, the lack of bowel movements is common during the first few days. Bed wetting not quite as common and could be a sign that she is in too much pain to get up, especially since you mentioned she is vocalizing. I’m thinking that might be it. Although we do sometimes see this issue in giant breed or senior dogs, it usually doesn’t happen more than a couple times before they get it under control. Have you mentioned this to your vet?

My question to you is, what kind of pain medication is she on? How much and how often? Could it be that she’s actually too dopey to get up and go? It sounds like when she is mobile she gets around OK?

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

Forum Posts: 3696
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5 October 2018 - 7:47 pm
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Hi Michael,

I’m glad Nala is home and on the road to recovery.  My Pug Maggie didn’t poop until day 6 or 7- those pain meds can be constipating.

As far as peeing in her bed- can you go to the drug store and get some incontinence pads?  I found them really useful to line furniture and beds when Mag got incontinent.  If you get the human kind they have some decent sizes so you should find something big enough for your girl.  There will still be things to wash but maybe not as much.

Did your vet have her pee before they released her?  That is often done.  Maybe she is used to just peeing where she lies because of the catheter?  None of my dogs have had one so no direct experience there.

Maybe a tweak in pain meds will help, amount, types or dosing schedule.  Be sure you are discussing with your vet.

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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14 October 2018 - 4:53 am
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Hi Nala and Michael 🐾

I am sorry I just saw your posts, I’ve been away for quite a while…

Your Nala is surely about to remove her stitches and that is a landmark date for our babies, from then on we generally get to see an enormous amount of progress happening daily.

How is your sweet pup? And you?

Please update us when you can and add some pictures!

I’m adding the link to my adored Dane Eurydice’s travels, she had a truly wonderful life on three and enjoyed every day to the full💓


Hugs and cuddles 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 26350
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14 October 2018 - 8:43 am
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Thanks for chiming in with Eurydice’s story! What an inspawration 🙂

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