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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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Arthritic 13 year old golden candidate for hind leg amputation
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Member Since:
24 April 2021
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24 April 2021 - 2:31 pm
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Hey there, my 13 year old pup Gaia has bone cancer. A few weeks back we decided to do palliative radiation. She seemed to improve but we just learned that her leg is fractured. Now we are in a position to amputate or medicate until time to euthanize. I'm so heart broken. She still is full of life, in good health, good blood work and lungs clear. The only concern with amputation is her arthritis in front limb. Oncologist said she is a good candidate and her arthritis is secondary at this point. I agree, but don't want to put her through more trauma if she can't adjust or has more arthritic pain.  I have no idea what to do. I am grateful for any advice or sharing of story. 

On The Road

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24 September 2009
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24 April 2021 - 5:14 pm
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Welcome to the best club nopawdy ever wants to join! Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Many senior pups recover quickly and adapt well, if otherwise fit and healthy. With a proper rehab evaluation, treatment recommendations, and exercise program (once healed), Gaia should do well on three legs. Consult with a CCRT or CCRP and the Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first visit!

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. Meanwhile, start here for help finding all the helpful Tripawds resources and assistance programs.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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24 April 2021 - 9:26 pm
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Such a rough spot to be in.  By being here on the site, you are surrounded by people who understand  the stress and fear and uncertainty  when forced  to make the decision  facing you.

We also understand age is just a number and each dog is different when it comes to being a senior.   Your pup sounds like she's in good shape, happy  and enjoying  a good quality life....except  for that bum leg.

One senior dog comes to mind.  Samson.  If I recall, he was a grumpy old man of fifteen with arthritis.  Recovery  was no picnic,  but once that was over, he thrived on three and his hoomans  never regretted the amputation  for one second.

Shooter was another senior who had amputation  at fourteen and loved life to the fullest on three.

That's  certainly  a plus, as well as all her check up AND, most importantly,  the Surgeon thinks she is a good candidate,  Many dogs here thrive on three, even with arthritis.  As Admin suggested, Rehab can help to keep her joints fluid and strong.  Some have good results with acupuncture,  adequan injections, etc.

Right now though, you have a dog full of life with a  painul fracture.  One way you can process a path forward if to ask yourself a couple of questions.   If you do not proceed with amputation and do"try" that option, ,  what steps can be taken to give Gaia a pain free quaility  life as possible u der the circumstances.    If you proceed with amputation and the outcome doesn't  give her as much quaility time as you would like (never enough time a yway), can you accept that at least you tried.

I guess it boils down to, would you second  guess yourself, and wonder ""what if" had you not tried amputation.  Good pain management can help if arthritis flares up, and Rehab can help ensure she masters the art of loving g life on three, but I don't  think much can be done as far as maintaining  quality  on a fractured leg.

It's not that we are "pro amputation "'s  just that we know how well dogs do on three....even as seniors and even with arthritis.   It may take a" ature" dog a bit longer to recover and to adjust to her new gait, but once they overcome  those hurdles, you will be amazed at how well she does.  

No matter what you decide, we are here to support you, okay?  Talk with Gaia.  What would she want?


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:
24 April 2021
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24 April 2021 - 9:45 pm
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Thank you. I will check to see if there is a ccrt/p that can do a consult.

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24 April 2021
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24 April 2021 - 9:52 pm
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Salky - Thank you so very much. This is super helpful! I am leaning toward amputation and feel better knowing others have thrived even with arthritis. I can't thank you enough for your input. 


Member Since:
21 April 2021
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9 May 2021 - 9:31 pm
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Hi. Just wanted to offer my story. My 11 year old Golden just had his left forelimb amputated on Thursday. He has a history of hip dysplasia and some general arthritic changes, so was not in prime orthopedic condition. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February, and after some time trying to figure this all out, we met with an oncologist and started first with chemo and bisphoshonates to support the bone. But, over time the tumor kept growing. The oncologist was expecting a fracture in the near future, so we decided to move forward with the amputation because all of his blood work/chest X-rays came back normal and he still had life to live. This was the toughest decision I have ever had to make, but it was the only one that I felt was giving him a chance. It was too soon to say goodbye and the thought of a fracture leading us to essentially the same options was something I personally did not want to put either of us through. He spent two nights in the hospital for pain control - he’s very sensitive so it took them a while to get him pain free but also not too sedate. So far we’re doing pretty good at home - definitely resting a lot and needing some assist with a harness to stand and provide some support with balance. But Mac is still here, wagging his tail, and trying his best to accommodate to life on three legs. Let me know if you have any questions. This certainly is a journey and we all could use all the support we can get 🙂

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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10 May 2021 - 10:41 am
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suzmac422 said
Hi. Just wanted to offer my story. My 11 year old Golden just had his left forelimb amputated on Thursday. 


YAY for Mac! Thank you so much for chiming in. Every story helps another member feel better about this situation. 

Be sure to start a new topic all your own so we can help you two on your journey! Thanks for joining, your future posts won't need to wait for approval.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
13 November 2021
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13 November 2021 - 9:44 pm
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This is SO great to read. There's a possibility that my Mac might need to have his leg amputated w/ the front arthritic leg as well.

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