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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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Still deciding whether or not to amputate
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Forum Posts: 6
Member Since:
19 October 2012
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14 November 2012 - 6:55 pm
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Hi this is Faith’s mom back again to lean on your wisdom…..Faith is an 11 year old lab and was all set to do a lumpectomy and oral chemo for the reoccurring tumor to her right front leg but since I couldn’t come up with the $3,200.00 up front they showed us the door.

A general vet just wanted to do comfort care due to her age saying she only had a year left as she was a large dog lab (I have yet to find that timer on her body) . The surgical oncologist orthopaedic vet wants to do the lumpectomy and oral chemo; she did not reccomend the ampuatation due to the arthritis in Faith’s hips but then even suggested hip replacement then an amputation which I cannot afford.


I had initially ruled out doing an amputation of her leg as she as severe arthritis in her back left hip; the ball and socket joint looks like a mushroom. But I am now leaning towards an amputation for her front right leg as UC Davis Vet school can do it for $650.00. My concern in doing a lumpectomy that if the margin isn’t clear or if the tumor reappears again in a year. And quite frankly I am not in the position to pay for the surgery. $3,200 vs $650, due to personal circumstances.


Her lungs and liver are clear. No sign of mets to the brain i.e. no halluciations, crazy behavior.


Just as an FYI when I got her from rescue 1 1/2 years ago 2 days post op from her inital surgery for a massive tumor removal my own vet was astounded they didn’t take her leg then as when you removed the surgical gauze you could see right down to her bone, tendons, muscles, after 6 mos of meds, bandage changing, wearing the cone and even a cross the US trip in the RV she healed nicely now we are back to square one. 


Is there some one on the board who decided to have their dogs front leg amputated knowing that their was a hip issue and how did their dog do post op? 


Faith is so full of life she keeps up with my 4 year old lab Socrates and plays more than him sometimes.

I have two organizations that I am working with who may be able to give me $1,000 towards the surgery of my choice.


Any wisdom to share???

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 26551
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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14 November 2012 - 8:07 pm
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Hi Faith’s Mom,

You can lean on us anytime, that’s why we’re here.

First off, never feel like you’re not living up to your role as a good pawrent because finances are a factor. I can bet you that just about everyone here has to think about money and paying for their dog’s care, and even with all the money in the world, it still wouldn’t be “enough” for humans to think they’re doing enough for their dog. 

As I mentioned in the chat, I think UC Davis is a great institution, and an awesome place to get a good honest opinion about her candidacy as a Tripawd. That’s where I would begin. 

Lots of other Tripawds here have had great lives despite a diagnosis of arthritis before surgery. While it’s not right for every dog, it’s not impossible either.

I’m so sorry you’re in this kind of tough spot but rest assured you’re not alone. You’ll find good examples here of how people proceeded in similar situations, so search the Forums and hang out here to meet some of these great Tripawd families. 

Keep us posted on what UC Davis says.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 137
Member Since:
27 May 2012
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16 November 2012 - 3:25 am
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Hi Faith’s Mom

My boy ‘Porthos’ has Hip Dysplasia and had TPLO surgery on both his knees. He was diagnosed with bone cancer in his front right leg.

We amputated 5 months ago and he walked the afternoon of his surgery. This video was taken a week ago 



Its was a tough decision to make, one vet told us that if we amputated Porthos would never stand up again, another vet said that he would walk but wasn’t sure how well.

We had decided to give Porthos 5 days after amputation to see if he could walk, and before the surgery I prepared myself for the fact things may not go well afterwords, that he may walk for a few weeks, then his hips could give out.


All I wanted for him was a few pain free weeks to say good bye properly and we got 5 months! and they were 5 amazing months of Porthos running and leaping around like his old self.

I dont know how he has manged to stay so active, he is very stubborn! 

We are fighting mets now so are on to another stage of this disease. 

I hope this has helped a little?

Amanda & Porthos

Angel Porthos, Pyrenean Mastiff, 7 years old Os front right leg, DX 18 May 2012, Amputation 14 June 2012, Hip Dysplasia, Two TPLO surgeries. Is now somewhere over the rainbow, 21 November 2013.

Columbia, MO
Forum Posts: 483
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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16 November 2012 - 4:43 am
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Hi Faith and mom.  My Daisy lost her left front leg to arthritis in Dec 2011.  The bone had actually been eaten away around her elbow joint.  She has hip displaysia with arthritis in both hips and some arthritis in her spine.  Doesn’t sound like she would be a good candidate for amputation, but my vets thought she would do ok and here we are almost 1 year post amp!  I will tell you that Daisy is not as agile as other tripawds.  She prefers to lay around and watch the world go by.  But that’s ok as long as she is still my happy girl and feels good.

Daisy is a 7 year old lab/wolfhound mix that weighs around 80 lbs.  I give her meloxicam daily for arthritis pain and inflammation.  She also gets Dasuquin with MSM (glucosumine/chronditin) for her remaining joints.

I know this is a hard decision both emotionally and financially.  Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford $3000 surgeries.  I know I couldn’t either.  I was lucky my regular vet does amputations and everything cost me around $650 (surgery, labs, xrays, hospitalization, etc.)

Whatever decision you make is for the love of Faith so it will be the right one.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

Forum Posts: 6
Member Since:
19 October 2012
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16 November 2012 - 6:31 pm
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Thanks for the wonderful video of Porthos and the enouragement for Daisy’s Mom.


After a lot of thinking, researching and talking to a lot of people I made the appointment today for Faith to have her front right leg amputated. She will be going to UCD Vet School on Dec. 19th unless someone cancels and we can go in earlier.


So now I am in the process of making a list of everything we will need for when she comes home so I am prepared.


One of my concerns is that my 4 year old Lab, Socrates, will get too rough with her while she is recuperating. Luckily I work from home so Faith will have a full-time care taker.


Thinking about beging a blog on our journey through this life changing event.


Thanks of everyone who have given me some insight; I am not done with you yet! 


Brenda “Faith”‘s Mom

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 26551
Member Since:
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16 November 2012 - 7:35 pm
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faithssocratesmom said
One of my concerns is that my 4 year old Lab, Socrates, will get too rough with her while she is recuperating. Luckily I work from home so Faith will have a full-time care taker.

 Hi Brenda,

It’s been our experience that most siblings will give the patient enough space to have a good recovery. It helps to try to separate them but we realize that isn’t always possible. Dogs just seem to know when enough is enough though, and I can’t recall an incident when a healthy sibling injured a recovering patient by accident. If you search the Forums for “siblings” you’ll find some discussion about that.

Yay that you work at home! What a big advantage Faith has!

Like we said, UC Davis is awesome. Good choice.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Support the Tripawds Foundation!

16 November 2012 - 11:34 pm
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Hi Brenda and Faith. it must feel good to have made a decision!
I don’t have anything new to offer, but I wanted to welcome you.
Also, since you are going to UCD I wanted to let you know that we have a sort of active NorCal Tripawds group that gets together once in awhile in Mill Valley. Keep an eye on the Tripawd Parties forum for the next event.
Good luck with the surgery and keep us posted.

Karen and the pugapalooza

Oakland, CA
Forum Posts: 137
Member Since:
30 April 2012
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18 November 2012 - 2:25 am
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Hi Brenda & Faith –


I have three other dogs, two of whom are especially active, and they definitely gave my Holly some space when she came home and didn’t try to roughhouse with her too much.  Since you work from home, you will have a huge advantage in that you will always be there to keep an eye on things and monitor the situation.  I found that I didn’t get a whole lot of work done leading up to and right after surgery, but I got some really good quality time with Holly that I will always treasure, so enjoy it!

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