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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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Possible amputation for Senior dog--coming to terms....
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Member Since:
15 January 2014
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15 January 2014 - 9:33 pm
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I just found this great site. I've been very moved by the stories and the wonderful responses . You have given me new hope for a tough decision. Spike is just over 12, a great and courageous buddy who may have to face a left rear amputation. Unlike most of these wonderful dogs, Spike is suffering from severe injuries sustained in a dog or possibly coyote attack. After his usual morning run with our two younger dogs he returned to our house covered in blood from over a dozen punctures. His ear was almost ripped off and he had tears down to the bone inside his mouth. As bad as these injuries were they have all healed well after the initial surgery 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately he also had numerous wounds on his hind legs. He has had two more surgeries and now the necrotic skin has hopefully been completely removed but the area on his left leg is so extensive we may not be able to get it to a point where skin grafts are viable puu and with the blood flow so compromised we are told amputation may be our only option. I am concerned about the arthritis in his rear legs and wondered if he would be able to support himself on one leg. He is strong and quite healthy and is already on supplements that have greatly improved his comfort and mobility. He's a lean 80+ lb. Sharpei-Shepherd or Akita mix. Spike is my baby and I would love to give him some more quality time but don't want to be selfish. Any input would be great and appreciated.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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15 January 2014 - 9:54 pm
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Welcome, your future forum posts will not require moderation. We're sorry to hear about Spike. That must have bbe traumatic.

You will find plenty of success stories about senior dogs, arthric dogs, and some who have required surgery on remaining legs by searching these forums or the blogs. Every dog is different, but if Spike is strong is otherwise fit and healthy, he should do well. Keeping him light and trim will certainly be beneficial, and there are many strengthening exercises, stretching, massage, and therapies to help him recover quickly and make the most out of life on three legs. Consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for complete details and be sure to bookmark Jerry's Required Reading List for lots of helpful links.

Thanks for asking! Please keep us posted.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
14 January 2014
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16 January 2014 - 9:18 am
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Welcome Spike and Spike's mom! 

I am also new to this site, but from what I have learned, dogs typically put more weight on the front legs rather than their hind legs. I think that Spike would be able to get along, and from everything I've seen on this site, dogs tend to adjust very well to life on three legs! Has your vet suggested that he is a good candidate for amputation? If so, then go ahead! What I got from your story is that Spike is an extremely tough dog. He survived an attack from another animal, different surgeries, and he is a fighter. 

I'm hoping for the best for Spike and sending you positive thoughts!

-Anna and Tyson Prince

Member Since:
19 September 2013
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16 January 2014 - 9:52 am
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Hi and welcome!

It sounds like both you and Spike have been put through the wringer - it truly is amazing what dogs can overcome, though.  In addition to all the great stories and information you will find in the forums and blogs, there are some great videos that the Tripawds team has put together.  Here is a link to a group of videos they did with Cal Animal Rehab - - I haven't watched all of the videos, but there is some really good information in the ones I've seen.  It might give you a better idea of what is possible post-amputation.  As for being selfish, while that is something you have to determine for yourself, if the only thing wrong with him now is the leg and amputating would probably improve his quality of life significantly, I don't think it is selfish to try.  There's always a chance it won't go well but is sounds like Spike is a serious fighter to have come this far already and the fact that he is quite healthy otherwise and his mobility is good, it seems like that puts a lot of points in his favor.

We're sending good vibes your way!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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16 January 2014 - 11:34 am
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Spikeys Mom, thank you for joining us, sorry you had to. I hope you don't mind that I moved your post here, it's just that this is a great place to share and learn from other senior dogs' amputation experiences.

Meanwhile, what does your vet say about Spikey being a candidate for amp surgery? Have you had him evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon? 12 isn't that old but it could make you feel better to have two professional opinions by specialists, no matter what you decide to do.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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16 January 2014 - 12:27 pm
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Gosh! Spike really is a tough character!

Yeah, ditto everyone else. If the specialist say he's a good candidate for map. and he's got such a great ttitude and zest for life.....all those things are real pluses! As yo've already probavly seen, there are some great harnesses and slings available should he have alittle trouble with mobility, or getting up at first.

Off hand I can think od two beloved tripawd team members who had amputation in their "senior" years...Shooter at thirtteen and Frank n' Farter (yep, that's his name!) who was 13 1/2! And they both recovered very well!

Murphy and Daisy...both younger and amputations for various reasons, vut they all had "leg" issues while also dealig with just three legs and they are doing great!

Recovery can be rough and this is major surgery, so there are risks. It seems as though Spike has already been through a lot of surgeries and would probavly jave many more in the future. At least this ONE surgery should eliminate any future surgeries and pain. He could be pain free, doctor visit free, and get on with a wonderful life of QUALITY and loving and spoiling!

IF you do proceed with surgery, you'll want to read Jerry's e-books, put scatter rugs down for traction if you have wood floors and, if you have steps for in and out, maybe consider a ramp. Many rear leg amps. have trouble going UP stairs, but not down! And backing-up is harder so you'll always want to make sure theymhave room to turn around if they get in a tight corner. One more little helpful tidbit I've learned'll want to watch for signs where they need to scratch an itch with their missing leg.....of course, you scratch for them!!

It sou ds like Spike is already just us g three legs pretty much anywa, so, as long as the vets say so' he should do just fine!

PLEASE keep us posted, ok,ay? We are here to help in anway we can!


Sally and Happy Hannah

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!

Twin Cities, Minnesota
Member Since:
6 March 2013
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17 January 2014 - 7:32 am
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Oh, poor guy :(

I will throw in our story--Sam was just shy of 13 when he had his amp (for OSA). He was an akita x, about 80 lbs (give or take what we were eating or not eating), and had hip/back arthritis and mild dysplasia.  He was a front amp.

Did it slow us a bit? Sure. But we did PT and acupuncture, and had low-doses of meds (tramadol and pred), and our K9 Immunity and glucosamine, and got along pretty much a-okay (goofy looking as all get out, but okay ;-)). Aside from me lifting him in and out of our SUV (but not the sedan), he never needed any special accommodations or anything, right up to the day he died.

So, is every dog different? Sure. But it is certainly a doable situation, or at least it can be for many folks.

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all."
-Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

"May I recommend serenity to you? A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment. Learn to be one with the joy of the moment."
-Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

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