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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Member Since:
12 January 2012
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14 January 2012 - 8:20 pm
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Hi all.  I happened to be browsing yesterday and found this site.  I have an English Mastiff, Spike.  Our story seems to be a little unique.

About two and half years ago, I woke up to find one of Spike's back paws swollen to almost cartoonish size. He didn't seem in pain though.  I took him to the vet.  The diagnosis was a spider bite.  He would require hydrotherapy three times a day and massive amounts of medication.  At some point, the wound became painful and my normally friendly, docile pup became Kujo.  The vet said I would have to provide treatment at home.  They left out the part where his fur, his skin, his muscles would fall off.  It was so traumatic both because it was pretty gross and because my sweet dog was in so much pain.  Eventually, we had to start wrapping the wound to keep him from licking the wound.  He wore a collar but because his legs are so long, he was still able to pull the bandages off.  Each vet visit consisted of Spike being sedated so that he wouldn't get aggressive with the staff.  He was always so good about treatment at home.  He jumped into the bathtub for his hydrotherapy, he took is 14 pills a day and peacefully laid on the floor while I changed his bandages.

Spike started to get better.  The skin started to grow back over the wound.  He was walking on his leg again.  Then something went wrong.  I'm not sure what happened but the wound reopened, infection set in and he couldn't walk on his leg.  I tried everything.  The doctor mentioned amputation but I wanted to save the leg if I could.  Finally, one night, I found Spike in the yard crying.  He was literally eating his own paw bone.  I took him back to the vet the next day.  He said if we didn't amputate, Spike would become septic and die within the month. 

He went into surgery on Friday.  I anxiously awaiting the call to tell me he came through the surgery.  Dr. Bone (really) said Spike did great.  The surgery took a little longer than expected but hopefully he would come home Sunday.  As expected, though, I got the call Saturday morning that while the leg was gone, Kujo wasn't and Spike needed to come home. 

I went to pick him up and thought, how am I going to get a three legged, drugged up, 115 pound dog wearing a collar into the car.  (He lost a lot of weight while he was sick)  So, it took some effort, creative thinking and doggie treats to get him in the car.  It's funny because when I first saw him, I wasn't so shocked by the three legs but by the fact they shaved him.  I didn't even think about that.  He cried when we pulled onto our  street.  He knew he was home. 

He made it up the stairs and on to his new padded bed.  He slept a lot the first day.  However, the next day was a little different.  My full grown dog was replaced by a puppy.  He ran up and down the stairs.  He played.  He even jumped on my bed.

We are now two years following his amputation.  Spike will be 6 in May.  He is the same dog he was before.  He's faster down the stairs than me.  He runs, jumps and plays with the other dogs.  He loves Petsmart.  Most people don't even realize he has three legs at first, they notice he's just big.  He's up to 150 pounds.  I try to keep him lean so he doesn't put too much stress on his other hip.  He gets a little tired sometimes but for the most part he lives a normal life.  I look forward to spending a lot more time with my puppy.

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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14 January 2012 - 9:45 pm
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Welcome to you and Spike. Wow - what a story. We sometimes have folks coming here with large breed dogs, worried about how their pup will manage on 3 legs. Your story will be an inspiration to them!

We are going to need to see some pictures!

Look forward to hearing more of Spike's adventures.
Jackie, Angel 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!

knoxville, tn
Member Since:
12 February 2010
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15 January 2012 - 7:52 am
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we agree, spike's story is such an inspiration!!!  we definitely need some pictures of your brave, big guy!!!


charon & spirit 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


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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15 January 2012 - 12:31 pm
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Hi Spike and family, thanks for taking the time to tell us about you! You're right, that is a unique way to become a Tripawd, I can't recall anyone who lost a leg to a creepy crawly. I'm so sorry!

You sound like a really pawesome, cool dawg. And hey, I'm with you...who wants to recover at the vet's office when you can go home to a nice comfy bed?

We are glad your'e OK now, and would love to see some pics. Consider starting a Tripawds Dog Blog, so that other folks with giant breed dogs who are looking for inspawration will see your story and know that big dogs can lead great lives on three legs.

Hope you don't mind I moved your post here to "Size and Age Matters", but I thought it would be easier for folks with big dawgs to see your story here.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Madison, WI
Member Since:
5 December 2009
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15 January 2012 - 9:12 pm
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Yikes!  That ordeal after the spider bite must have made the recovery from amputation seems easy by comparison.  Bravo for getting your boy through all that!!!  

Welcome to Tripawds, Spike big-grin

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at:

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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15 January 2012 - 9:13 pm
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Oh dear!  I hate spiders!!!  Now, I have even more of a reason to! 


I'm so glad Spike is a happy, healthy boy now!! 

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

Peoria, IL
Member Since:
8 November 2010
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15 January 2012 - 9:34 pm
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Glad you found Tripawds — it is an awesome support site. Yukky about the spider bite, but I am glad Spike is having fun again. Funny that we fear our sweet doggies losing a leg, when they take it (pun intended) in stride. Three legs and a spare ...

Smilin' Sammy, March 16, 2004 – Dec. 5, 2011
Golden retriever, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2010 — right front leg amputated November 2010. He fought valiantly to stay with us; but a second diagnosis of osteosarcoma, this time in his left front leg, was more than our golden warrior could overcome. He loved his pack — and everyone else he met.

We loved him even more.
Thanks for the pennies, Sammy. They helped.

Sebastopol, CA
Member Since:
11 June 2011
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15 January 2012 - 9:46 pm
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Thanks for sharing Spike's story! Very inspiring especially for pawrents with the giant breed furkids - this will give them a positive light for amputation.

So happy he is a puppy again 🙂

hugs & wags

Joanne & Lylee

Albuquerque, NM
Member Since:
20 June 2011
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15 January 2012 - 9:50 pm
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Welcome Spike to our great Tripawds community!  I love hearing about giant breed tripawds.  Thanks for joining us.  We look forward to hearing about your adventures!

Jewels was a gorgeous Lab-Shep mix that found us at the pet rescue when she was just 3 months old. Born June 2000; Diagnosed OSA on June 1, 2011; L-front Amputation September 12, 2011; Crossed Rainbow Bridge December 30, 2011. My "baby dog" will always be in my heart.  Now she is running fast and free on all four legs after the rabbits and squirrels!  Jewels was loved by her crazy-busy mom, even-keeled dad, pesky twin human brothers and monkeydog sister Aspen.  Read about Jewels' Tripawd Journey here.

Member Since:
12 January 2012
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15 January 2012 - 11:05 pm
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Thank you all for the warm welcome. I wish I would have found this wonderful community sooner. I look forward to sharing and reading stories about our amazing tripawds.

Greater Western Washington area
Member Since:
25 August 2010
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16 January 2012 - 4:55 pm
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I saw something on the animal planet about the brown recluse.  It can actually kill people and animals with it's bite.  Poor Spike, that must have really been something.  I bet he is scared of spiders now... I know I am!


Good for you for doing the right thing for him 🙂  Could you please post some pictures of him?  Is he a brindle coat?  It is hard to see from your avatar.  We look forward to reading up on Spike and his stories, he sounds wonderful.


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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