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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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Tiny's journey as a tripawd
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
15 December 2016
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19 December 2016 - 2:46 am
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Hi All-

Our 4 year old Saint is scheduled for surgery this Thursday. We found out the news of bone cancer in his front left leg last week Wednesday and I cant even begin to tell you what a blow that was. We had been fighting with a limp in his front leg since October only to be consulted to a different vet that could do chiropractic work. This new vet had done xrays from midway up Tiny’s leg and then chiropractic work. He had told us how great his bones in that leg looked so when we had him xray the bottom half of his leg after nothing was getting better it was like someone punched you right in the stomach to hear that news. We have our first child ready to join our family any day but waiting until after delivery didnt seem like the right option either. The vet had warned us that the cancer spreads quickly and that ideally we would do something soon. We didnt hesitate to schedule the surgery even though the holiday weekend falls right after his surgery. For us what better Christmas to celebrate than with our furbaby by our side. I am a little hesitant about if something comes up the response time to get ahold of anyone during the holiday weekend though…

I am praying that when we go back they dont find the cancer anywhere else in him. They did warn us that they would need to do xrays before they actually did the surgery that day and we would need to wait to see what the outcome of those were before we left. Tiny is 149 pounds and otherwise a very healthy boy. I just know that he will acclimate and do wonderful but it just breaks my heart to even consider the pain and road after surgery for recovery.

Forum Posts: 59
Member Since:
23 May 2016
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19 December 2016 - 7:06 am
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I’m so sorry you are dealing with this at this time. Its horrific news to receive anytime, but whilst preparing for the imminent arrival of your first baby must be extremely daunting, as well as the challenges that come with the festive season! However, please use this site for support and reassurance. It really is a wonderful community with a wealth of experience and knowledge to share and they will help you along this journey, I have no doubt of that. Every dog and every surgery is different and so there is no simple answer to how best prepare you for what the next few weeks will be like, but I’ve listed a few key things that I think you should arm yourself with in the next couple of days to give you a helping hand along the way;

Food for Tiny – the anaesthetic and the pain meds usually make them feel quite queezy and can knock their appetite so some yummy foods to tempt him with during the first week might help. Chicken, Rice, gravy, scrambled eggs, fresh pumpkin (for constipation), cheese (for tablets) and such seem to be the most popular.

Traction for Tiny – If you have slippy floors in your house it will be hugely beneficial to have mats/rugs to put down to help give Tiny traction when moving with his new gait. Although rest and minimal movement will be on the cards for a least the first two weeks, he will still need to go for toilet breaks, so consider the route through your house the yard and such. Yoga mats seem to be a cheap and effective solution.

A sling/support – many of us with larger breeds sometimes struggled to help support them while they gained their strength and balance on 3. Some of the harnesses you will find in the gear section of this website will be fantastic for your on going support of Tiny, but while the stitches are in, especially on front leg amputees a hemp shopping bag split down each side will act as a great sling to help take some of his weight round his mid drift while the wound heals.

Sleeping arrangements – the first night or 3 can be hard work and stressful – not trying to be negative or scare you but knowledge is power and confidence! The pain meds and the anaesthetics can regularly make the dogs uneasy and they have a tough time sleeping. Don’t be surprised or worried if Tiny is quite vocal and whiney, panting and restless. These are all normal behaviours for the first week, but if you can reduce the impact on you as a family and Tiny, that will be a good thing. So moving a bed of some kind so you can be with Tiny throughout the night might help everyone get a bit more rest.

Meds schedule – You will most likely be given a combination of pain meds and anti inflammatories. Make sure you have a clear understanding from your vet about what you can give and when and what flexibility there is. For example you may be told to give 2 lots of tablets every 12 hours. What some of us found was that at 10 hours the meds where wearing off causing pain and discomfort for our dogs and then a big dose of meds in 1 go was making them feel fuzzy and weird, so spreading the dosage across a few hours helped avoid the massive hit and then drop off. i.e give 1 tablet at 7am and a 2nd at 9am. This is just to give you an idea of the concept, but speak to your vet so you know what you can and cant do and then it will be a bit of trial and error to find out what works best for Tiny. Prepare yourself for a rough 2 weeks, but keep strong and focused you will start to see Tiny’s usual happy self come back day by day and once the stitches come out we’re usually trying to slow the guys down they are so eager and happy and adapting so well.  

Ice packs/heat packs – You may find there is quite a lot of bruising and swelling around the wound in the first few days and many pups found having an ice pack on a few times a day offered some relief and made the healing process a little quicker

And lastly read the blogs on here – they are true, warts and all, first hand accounts of what you may or may not experience. Have a look at some pictures of the wounds – it can be quite scary to see for the first time and having an idea of what to expect may just take away the shock factor.

I’m not a vet, but I hope this gives you a little head start.

Don’t forget to keep connected. We are all hear to help and answer any questions you might have.

Wishing you and Tiny all the best for Thursday, and cant wait for your birth announcement too!! clapheart

Also, upload some pictures of your gorgeous boy, we’re all suckers for a cute picture.

Much love Karis and Zuki with wings


Zuki Wuggafer 30/09/06 - 11/11/16. Right hind tripawd due to Osteosarcoma. He had a strong 5 and half months as a tripawd but unfortunately a secondary issue with his spine ended our battle. He loved life, loved our family and was the best dog I could ever ask for. Truly my first love, forever in my thoughts and heart.

Read our story:

The Rainbow Bridge

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19 December 2016 - 12:24 pm
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Oh Karis thank you for your awesome and comforting insight for Tiny’s people! Much appreciated 🙂

Tiny and family, welcome, we’re glad you found us but of course sorry you had to be in this spot. I hope you don’t mind I moved your post here but this is a good place to share stories of giant breed dogs. Amputation is a rough decision but even ruffer when your doggy is large. But rest assured, you’re in great company and believe it or not, we’ve had members with even larger dogs do great on three legs. For starters, you’ve got to meet Patchy the Saint Bernard Tripawd! Talk about amazing! You will be inspired.

If you haven’t already, please visit Jerry’s Required Reading List this week. As you prepare for what’s ahead, it will help you read about what to expect. We also have lots of videos, like this one from Dr. Wiltzius, whose Tripawd Mastiff Tazzie did fantastic as well.

The devotion you have to Tiny shines through so brightly. Even with all you have going on (congratulations on the baby!), you are finding room in your life and heart to give Tiny everything he needs for a good life ahead. What a lucky dawg!

If you have any questions whatsoever just bark at us, we’re here to help OK?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Schofield, WI
Forum Posts: 1454
Member Since:
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21 December 2016 - 11:25 am
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Welcome although it breaks my heart you have to be here.  Looks like Karis covered everything you need there’s nothing I can add.  We’ll all be keeping you and your precious Tiny in our thoughts and prayers for tomorrow.  Please keep us posted.  Praying for good X-rays tomorrow so surgery can proceed.  We all know how hard this journey is, please let us know if we can help in any way even if it’s just emotional support.  We’re here to help in any way we can.  Hugs!

Forum Posts: 121
Member Since:
27 September 2016
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21 December 2016 - 11:51 am
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OMG I can’t even imagine the stress of managing this while expecting a new baby and the holidays! I am sorry you have joined us here, but you have come to the absolute right place for help and advice! I could NOT have done it without the support I get here.

I would make sure you have all the contact numbers/emails for the vets who will be managing Tiny’s post op care during the holidays. Hopefully you won’t need it!

Karis gave you GREAT advice. The first week is the hardest. The fact that he is a big dog adds some difficulties with mobility in the beginning. My Fionn is 80lbs and I have steps to go outside. Helping him took strength! He hated the sling, but as a front leg amp, he could not wear a harness until his incision healed. The sling was necessary to support him up and down the stairs and even while he pottied in the beginning.

I chronicled the entire first 2 weeks of Fionn’s recovery day by day in Fionn’s blog. Link is in my signature. The page “post chemo thoughts and highlights” lists all the things I was glad to have in advance and the things I felt worked for us. I was very grateful to have a few days to prepare as I live in the country with no stores nearby. Not that your experience will mirror ours, but it does give you an idea of the challenges ahead AND the light at the end of the tunnel! Look at his incision pictures even if you are squeamish. The incision is LARGE, will be even larger on Tiny and having all the hair shaved off makes it just look terrible. 

Bless you all for having to go through this at such a challenging time in your lives. Stay with us and we will support you any way that we can! Sally will chime in soon and tell you chocolate has healing powers and I agree!

Fionn and Nancyheart

Nancy- mom to the FABULOUS Fionn. He rescued me in 2015 when he was 6. 

Right front leg amputation at age 7 for osteosarcoma 10/6/16. Taken too soon 6/12/17. Read about our journey here:

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