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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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Giant Breed Tripawds: Describe Your Post-Amptuation Lifestyle
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The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28720
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9 June 2011 - 11:40 am
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Hey all you big dawgs, can you tell me in a few short sentences about:

– how you felt and acted as you recuperated from amputation surgery?

– how you felt and acted when you learned how to live as a Tripawd?

Is your life much different now or same as it always was?

We'd love to hear your stories. Thanks!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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9 June 2011 - 11:53 am
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ok- just got the bad news from the vet, and our 85 lb, Norwegian Elk Hound, Baer, has a huge tumor in his left leg- not removeable. In the muscles, up to the bone, etc. Blood work indicated likely not metastisized elswhere. With our recent past dogs, we always felt- can’t do an amp on such a big dog, AND we are being selfish to have a 3-legged animal around- better for the dog to say our goodbyes.  So we have a week before the lab results are back, BUT will someone objectively let me know if it is better for the dog to have it amputated, or have their life ended?  Terrible time- and we want Baer around, but don’t care to have him suffer.  Thanks.

knoxville, tn
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9 June 2011 - 12:10 pm
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dave, we had a soft tissue sarcoma in the right front leg that also could not be successfully removed.  gayle was 10 at the time, a 70# lab mix girl…she lost her leg in february 2010, and we have not regretted giving her the chance with the surgery.  there are always challenges in life, but life on three legs is very do-able and you will be surprised at how well our tripawds do.

gayle had an initial rough week after the surgery, but the ending of tramadol pills really brought her back.  she learned to do the hop to get around, and has continued to live a full and happy life.

charon & gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends


Here and Now

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9 June 2011 - 12:16 pm
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Thanks for joining, so sorry to hear about Baer. Hopefully others will be responding to Jerry's request for feedback regarding amputation for their giant breed friends.

Every dog is different, but the vast majority of big dogs do very well on three Legs. Just check out these blogs for a couple amazing survival stories:

Nova – Three legged blind great dane now cancer free for 30 months!

Cemil – Three Legged Anatolian Shepherd, more than two years post amputation

Fortis – Cane Corso Cancer Hero

But Baer isn't really that big. Our Shepherd mix Jerry was 80± lbs at the time of his amputation from osteosarcoma. Doctors gave hime a few months to live and he loved life on three legs for nearly two years.

Amputation is the only way to totally remove the pain. Every dog is different, but if you are up for a couple weeks of recovery, Baer could easily enjoy a happy life. The only alternative is the pain getting worse with possible risk of fracture.

Please consider starting a new topic to share more details about Baer like what kind of cancer, etc. That way, others can provide specific relative feedback. Search the forums or click the “giant breed” tag (at top or bottom of this thread) for more posts about big dogs. Be sure to bookmark Jerry's Required Reading List for the best tips and advice too!

9 June 2011 - 12:51 pm
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thanks for the thoughts.  How about stairs without one of his rear legs? I suppose that is minor, but don't know the expectations nor difficulties.

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9 June 2011 - 1:56 pm
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Bud is a very tall and large golden. He started this adventure at 103lbs but is now a lean 85lbs. We had a femur fracture that was infected and that was the reason for the amp. He doesnt have his left rear leg any longer.He was immediatly able to stand up and walk outside without the sling to potty after the surgery. He had never been kenneled before and that was hard on him.We spent visiting hours with him to reassure him.His personality really wasnt the same for the first 3 weeks. He did alot of sleeping and was not active due to an upper respitory infection. However, the tail was always wagging and he still wanted to be right there with us!

 Bud had some other health concerns and it has taken him about 3 months to recover and get back to all that he enjoys. We are a pretty active family, Bud has two kids and a young dog to keep up with.He does pretty well! The mailman stopped me just last week to ask me what had happened to Bud and tell me how GREAT he seems to be doing! He had a St Benard whom he put down rather than amputate and I think he was second guessing the decision he had made.

 We did move our daughter from downstairs to upstairs so Bud doesn't have to tackle the 12 stairs  and risk injury to his remaining leg anymore in order to sleep with her nightly.He does go up and down the four on the porch all by himself. We added rugs to wood floors and carpet to the deck stairs. We have a ruff wear harness and I use it on him when we got the vet, park or lake to give him some more stability.

I wish all of this would not have happened to him. Bud is only 7 yrs old. We feel he has alot of life to live and love to give. He is a member of our family! We have made some minor adjustments but it is definately worth it to have him hopping beside us on his three legs.

9 June 2011 - 2:21 pm
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there is some good therapy going on here.  I did notice that most pictures and stories are of front leg amps.  Bears will be his left rear- takes out much of the locomotion in their gait and jump- and doing his duty will be a balancing issue.  We've also got a rather high SUV that Baer used to jump into- now i will probably need some sort of harness- which I've seen on some pics here.  So Baer is recuperating from his exploratory surgery- and might be home later.  DEcision will come next week on the amp- but looks like the best choice.

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9 June 2011 - 2:33 pm
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Okay, first off, I do not condone this!!! yell

Most have already seen this video, but this is Charlie and his 2 month ampuversary. He was about 96 pounds in this video.

Best wishes to you and Baer!

"I don't know where I am."

9 June 2011 - 4:44 pm
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very,very sudden and sad news.  UPon discoverring and manipulating the tumor, such tissue damage was inflicted that Bear's system could not sustain the stress.  We chased toi the vet and he had passed away.  We went in this morning to do some good to a dog that no doubt had pain, but was still alive and functional and real- and he is gone.  My advice to all is that when signs of chaNge in a dog's daily life occur, do not write it off to Lyme's or heat, have it checked out.  Thank you all for our brief and accurate advice, we were ready to do the amp, but the process was flawed. RIP.

The Rainbow Bridge

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9 June 2011 - 5:37 pm
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Ohhhhh my gosh Dave, our hearts go out to you, we are so deeply sorry.

Please know you did all you could with the information you had at the time. Bear knows that. He will always be by your side.

Please accept our deepest condolences.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 732
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9 June 2011 - 9:43 pm
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That was very sudden and is very sad! I am so sorry for the deep loss you suffered today!

10 June 2011 - 5:12 am
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Thanks to all for the thoughts. Terribly long night and day- after 10+ years.

San Diego, CA
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11 June 2011 - 11:09 pm
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So, so sorry to read of your sudden loss of your sweet Bear. It must have been such a shock.

Run free, Bear.

I hope you will soon be able to focus more on the happy years with Bear than on the loss you are now feeling.

All the best,
Jackie, Abby’s mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Greater Western Washington area
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12 June 2011 - 7:48 am
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I am not sure that Sammy qualifies as large breed, although he is a newfie mix pre-amp 117 lbs.


how you felt and acted as you recuperated from amputation surgery?  “Sammy was quiet, needed lots of sleep, didn't vocalize like he used to.”

how you felt and acted when you learned how to live as a Tripawd? “He was a  little awkward at first, unsteady on his feet, but willing to try, then after a few weeks, his voice returned, his tail wagged like before, and he is hopping and happy.”

Is your life much different now or same as it always was? “Sammy was never really up for walks anyway, he likes bursts of speed and small runs which is just like before but for sure he can't handle long walks now.  There is nothing different except we are emotionally closer than ever and I have to help him in and out of the car.”

I hope this is what you were asking.


To Dave, I am so sorry about Baer.  You did everything you could, we are sending prayers your way.

Elizabeth and Sammy

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg 8/23/10,

leg fractured 8/27/10,

leg amputated 8/30/10


I couldn't begin to say how special Sammy is to us.  Living and laughing with and loving this wonderful boy is priceless.

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12 June 2011 - 8:26 am
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When Gracie was diagnosed with cancer in her front left limb  were devastated.  It was the hardest decsion i have had to make was her amputation. Gracie started out weight 174.4lbs so so was no small fry (we are 150 now so vet happier).  We got 10bs off her prior to  the surgery.  The surgery itself took longer than the vet expected but she did great.  I was 12 hours from the last time her and now he was a tripawd.  She immediately hopped when she saw me and began wagging  her tail. The pain of the amputation seemed minimul to what the pain of the bone tumor was.


Fast forward a month and a half-she is home, no drains in her,stitshces out and  living an awesome life.  Yes one a month she goes for chemo at NC State Vet School and she goes weekly to our vet  for bloodwork, but she is doing great.  We have built her her won handicap ramp so she does not have to use the steps She is back to her old self sleeping in the middle of my kingsize bed (yep she has her own pillow).

We are building her strenghth up with walks (but she prefers to run) and play time in the yard.  She is also the counter surfing queen of the house again:)  [Image Can Not Be Found]and has reclaimed her spot on the co (with pillow and blankie)  She does everything she use to do.  I refused to threat her as a disabled dog-she has challenges she may have to overcome but she can as long as she puts her mind to it and has our support with is never ending.


We are SOO sorry Bear-our hearts go out to you!

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