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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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Our new tripawd, Darby!
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
26 May 2009
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26 May 2009 - 6:21 pm
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A month ago we saw a rescue pup who had just had her front right amputated.  She had been found in a dumpster with something wrapped around her leg at about 8 weeks of age…  We filled out the adoption papers because we couldn't resist her sweet face.  She's a little pittie, about 10 lbs right now, and probably 12 weeks old.

We've had literally dozens of dogs over our lifetime(s), but never a tripawd.  My partner thinks Darby needs a prosthetic, but I think she is doing just fine.  We picked her up this past Sat, and found out that her foster mom had carried her around for the month since her surgery…  Darby didn't have much muscle strength or balance.  We encouraged her to walk, or hop, everywhere, and she started to improve the second day.  Now, four days later, she hardly falls onto her shoulder at all, she can follow the big dogs up the back porch steps, and she can flat fly around the back yard.  

Since she lost her leg at such a young age, odds are good that she'll grow into her tripawd-ness, right?  I'm concerned about the extra wear-n-tear on her left front, and wonder if there will be permanent damage because her left elbow tips out to support the weight of her front end (her left paw turns slightly inward).  Can I get some reassurance on that point?  Or if not reassurance, some advice about how to minimize the effects?

I'm going to try to post a couple of pics….      Rob

Here and Now


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26 May 2009 - 7:14 pm
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Thanks for joining Rob! Darby will totally adapt well to her life on three legs. Just keep her fit and trim.

Personally, A believe that dogs will cope much better with managing their mobility on three legs than they will at trying to figure out how to use an attached or implanted device. Unless it was a limp sparing procedure, then I see a prosthetic being of use.

We asked tripawd blog readers what they thought of prosthetics for dogs and received quite a few comments. And here are other tripawd forum prosthetic discussions.

With Darby being a pup, she should easily rebuild her strength in the remaining leg. You may just be surprised. Can't wait to see her! Here are instructions for posting pictures.

Here and Now


Forum Posts: 11919
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26 May 2009 - 8:26 pm
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Darby is just adorable! She'll never even know she was supposed to have four legs.

Darby three legged puppyImage Enlarger

She just won't have that spare most dogs are born with! Winker

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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28 November 2008
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27 May 2009 - 3:21 am
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Darby is adorable.  I'm so glad she was lucky enough to find you. The best thing you can do for her is keep her lean and in sharpe.  Trouble was 9 yrs when she had her amputation and we pulled 14 lbs off her because we were concerned that being a bully, carrying all that weight up front would cause long term problems with the joints.

I'm sure Darby will adapt well and do just fine.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Alvin, TX
Forum Posts: 79
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17 May 2009
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27 May 2009 - 5:52 am
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Darby is sooo cute!  Don't worry.  She'll get used to having three legs.  Our little poodle, Angel, was hit by a car almost 2 weeks ago and her back paw was torn off.  At first the surgeon was going to try and save the rest of the leg and get her a prosthetic.  But after researching it, he decided he will remove the rest of her leg bc prosthetics for dogs is a really new field and has a lot of research to go through.  And since Darby's leg was removed high up, it's extra tough to use a prosthetic.  She will be just fine.  Like the others said, just keep her lean and in shape.  I don't know how vets feel about starting dogs on a joint supplement before they have any symptoms, but it seems like it could hold off arthritis in her later years to start her on it now. But of course, ask your vet.

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