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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Advice Needed- Large Dog Possible Front Leg Amputation
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30 January 2024 - 9:01 am
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In early December, my neighbors shot my 2 year old pit mix rescue. They broke her front right tibia. She has been splinted ever since. At her 6 week check, her bone had not healed. She is very high energy and I am worried that it will not end up healing. She goes back to the vet in a couple weeks and I am preparing for bad news that it still isn't healed. She is about 60lbs and carries most of her weight in her chest. I am so worried about how she will manage on 3 legs due to her body shape and weight distribution. She is very young and strong so I think she would manage just fine with 3 legs. Does anyone have any advice or experience with a front heavy dog with a front leg amputation? I think she would be ok, but I fear that I am only convincing myself of that for selfish reasons and because I do not want to have to put her down at this point in her young life. My vet seems to lean towards putting her down over amputation due to her size. She is very strong and is so lively even while injured. I do not want her to have a poor quality of life and want to do what is best for her. Any advice, personal experience, or input would be appreciated!

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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30 January 2024 - 10:04 am
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Hi Ashlynne, welcome. I'm sorry you and your girl are in this situation. What's her name?

First, please find another vet and get a different opinion. It sounds like your vet is very old-school thinking. You don't need that right now and your dog doesn't either. The vets and surgeons who follow modern veterinary science tell us that no reason why a dog cannot be a good amputation candidate if they are otherwise healthy and strong. At 2 years old and 60 pounds she has a lot of life left in her! 

We have seen dogs as large as 175 pounds lose a front leg and go on to live a great life. Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Newfies, you name it. Not all are great candidates, especially if there are other health issues. But for situations like your dog's, it really does sound like she has a lot going for her.

Your responsibility will be to harness that energy of hers in a way that she doesn't harm herself long term. So, moderating her activity, making sure she doesn't run or walk too fast or far for her own good, and generally being aware of her pain levels so that if she does get injured, her aches and pains get promptly treated. It takes a little more conscientiousness but it's worth it IMO.

Amputation surgery recovery isn't the easiest thing but it's not impossible either. I hope you don't need to go that route but if you do, we are here to lean on and answer any questions you have.

Keep us posted!

P.S. Please consider registering as a member so your future posts won't need to wait for approval.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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30 January 2024 - 10:19 am
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Oh gosh!!  So sorry you are dealing  with this!!  Sich a horrible  experience!  I hope that neighbor....well....never left insaid6!

100% agree with Jerry in eceryway, especially....drop this Vet and get another one asap!!!

As Jerry mentioned, we have seen many dogs of all different sizes and shapes thrive on three legs! Pitties, bulldogs, basset hounds, you name it, we've seen it!

And thank you for adopting this sweet girl. Clearly she has found a home with someone who loves her and adores her!

For too often we've seen dogs come to this site because a broken or shattered bone has not healed after several surgeries, infections, etc. Anyone who has gone through the amputation process as a result is thrilled that they did so. They often wish they had just done it from the get-go rather than try to save the leg.

Please, try to find another surgeon who is experienced with amputation and sees this as a solution. Euthanasia should not be on the table at all! Not at all!

Hang in there and update when you can, okay we are here to answer any questions and support you anyway we can.


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!

Member Since:
4 April 2019
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1 February 2024 - 3:34 pm
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I am so sorry that anyone could be so cruel! It is heartbreaking! I have a Pitt mix with lab and she is the most loving dog!

I had a senior 90 lbs choc lab who had front let amputation. I was also worried not by just his size but his age. I wanted you to know he did just fine!

I agree with Sally. Putting her down should not be the answer. She has her whole life in front of her and life can be good on three...

I believe if you go through with amputation your girl will show you what she can do. Check out the blogs. There are a lot of front leg amps of dogs of all sizes.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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