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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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Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
27 May 2019
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27 May 2019 - 3:00 pm
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Hi everyone, I would appreciate some urgent advice as my head is spinning and the tears just won’t stop. Yesterday, my beautiful Irish Wolfhound Gatsby was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He started limping a few weeks ago and it was put down to a strain. Within the last three weeks, a large lump formed on his leg and yesterday an x-ray confirmed that most of the bone (right front wrist) has been eaten away in his leg. He’s facing a fracture any day if he weigh bears and has been given some pain meds.

So what to do next. Gatsby is turning five on August 31st.

He is a very large wolfhound with a history of early onset arthritis.

I’ve been told that he needs his leg amputated if he is to stand any chance. I’m not sure about chemo as it hasn’t been offered yet. My vet said that his life expectancy was only 3-6 months even if I get his leg amputated. He’s having a chest xray today to see if it has spread.

I’m sitting here just crying. Reading every article I can see and I can see that this is a death sentence. So, essentially I would be removing his leg to give him a bit more time. BUT he’s a Wolfhound… how is he going to be mobile… get up and down… balance to go to the toilet. Get in and out of the car. He weighs in at 85kg. He’s larger than a small horse. We all work too, so if he gets stuck somewhere, will we be leaving him to suffer on the floor somewhere?

Can wolfhounds realistically walk on three legs? I’ve seen a couple on youtube but did they have cancer?

I don’t really know anything about this, other than my heart is in a million pieces and I want to do what is right for Gatsby. If I decided to go ahead and amputate, can he have a few good extra weeks or am I simply making things even more difficult for him. I don’t want him to suffer.

I would appreciate any advice. I know that the decision is mine, but right now, I don’t know what to decide.

Thanks x

Here and Now

Forum Posts: 12340
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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27 May 2019 - 4:00 pm
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Welcome and best wishes for Gatsby! Your future forum posts will not require moderation,

Yes, giant breed dogs can have a harder time recovering, but with proper pain management and rehab, they can adapt quickly and become strong Tripawds. Search these forums and the blogs and you will find many success stories about big dogs Loving Life On Three Legs .

Finnegan was a large Wolfhound, and there was also Darcy Deerhound, as well as Nova, Moose, Atlas and many other Great Danes. 

Of course every dog is different, so hopefully you have consulted with a board certified orthopedic surgeon and oncologist.

You can search all blogs here , and start here if you need help finding the many other Tripawds resources, or call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!


Forum Posts: 19862
Member Since:
22 February 2013
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27 May 2019 - 9:17 pm
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Okay, first of all,  B R E A T H E…..B R E A T H E…..YOU ARE. NOT ALONE!    You are in the best place for understanding,  support and information.   We understand the sheer fear, the non stop crying, the uncertainty.  We can all relate.  We also know that Gatsby will be pain free with that bum leg gone!  

As you can see from some of the links that Admin Guy gave you,we have had many very large dogs do very well on three.  Yes, recovery can be a bit slower and mobility  can take a bit longer (not always) in large dogs,  but the dogs do recover and do get mobile… their own I individual pace.

Not saying  recovery is a picnic.  The first two weeks  can be rough.  It’s  major surgery.  While recovering,  they also have to adjust to three legs.  Gatsby would have some good pain meds fo help navigate  those early recovery  days

And yes, if you can, do get Gatsby assessed by the Orthopedic  Surgeon who will be doing the surgery.   They are excellent  resource  in helping to determine  if Gatsby is a good candidate.   Arthritis  usually  is not a vig enoigh deal to eliminate proceeding with surgery.  Dogs woth arthritis, TPLO surgeries,  etc, still an do very well on three.

Yoi can talk to your Vet about joint supplements,  adequan injections, etc as a way to help keep the arthritis  at bay.

Now, about “statistics”.  We don’t pay too much attention  to those around here.  We’ve  seen some dogs and cats far exceed them and, sometimes less.  Gatsby doesn’t  have a timeframe stamped  anywhere kn that pretty Wolfhound butt pf hers!  No one knows how much time any of us have on this earth, and dogs don’t  care.  Dogs don’t  count days in a calendar.  All they are about is being  spoiled and loved and gett tumny rubs and treats! They live in the moment and have no worries about the tomorrows. 

Your love fot Gatsby comes shining  through.   Do your research.  Talk with Gatsby.  Whatever  decision  you make is the right decision  because  it will be ine from a place of love.❤

Keep things chunked down for now.  You can think about chemo, etc later.  

STAY CONNECTED  and ask any questions  you want.  We’ve  all been where you are and understand  like no others can.  

Rem to  B R E A T H E.  Also chow down on chocolate, lots of it.  It helps clear the mind!😎


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!

Forum Posts: 3161
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27 May 2019 - 10:38 pm
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Wow, big puppy! Welcome ❤ so sorry you had to find us this way. 

Please breathe,  you are in pawsome company,  as you’ve already seen. 

I am owned by a tripawd kitty,  but I also have and love dogs. 

The decision is up to you,  but as you have already seen,  large dogs can and have thrived on three!

Have not seen a lot of Wolfhounds here, but have seen several Danes like Eurydice that have lived wonderful lives after amputation.  She was close to your pup’s size. 

Stay tuned in,  read some stories,  and absorb everything that has just happened.  It’s a big job but it can totally be do-able. There is rehab,  harnesses,  and all kinds of things to help you get him through this.  Larger dogs really need to be quiet and rest after surgery,  but once they recover they are amazing. Nobody can tell you how much time you have left, not even the doctors.  

There are lots of people here that can give first hand experiences and advice should you move forward.  


She has several stories here,  I hope this can ease your worry. 


Jackie and Huckleberry ❤


Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

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