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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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Advice on what to expect after surgery
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Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
11 June 2013
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11 June 2013 - 5:18 am
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My previously active 8 year old lab mix underwent surgery yesterday to amputate the left front leg.  Does anyone have any advice on what to expect in terms of surgery recovery?  Also, how many of you out there have had a dog that has made it more then a year after this type of surgery(I am told by the vet to expect about a year)?  And are there any special diets I should consider at this point for him?  Thanks for any advice. 

Here and Now

Forum Posts: 12472
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25 April 2007
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11 June 2013 - 6:42 am
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tracych said
Does anyone have any advice on what to expect in terms of surgery recovery?

Yes! Search these forums and the blogs for plenty of feedback from others. Bookmark Jerry's Required Reading List for lots of helpful links, and consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to the most common questions about amputation recovery and care.

What's your dog's name and why the amputation?

11 June 2013 - 8:42 am
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I'm guessing your pup has cancer since the vet said a year.  My little pug Maggie had her amp due to mast cell cancer.  Her prognosis was 6 to 9 months, and she lived almost 4 years and did not pass from mast cell.  Cancer is a crap shoot- and stats are just stats.  No one really knows how much time you will have together, so treasure each moment!


Tell us more about your pup.  There is tons of experience and support to be found here.



Twin Cities, Minnesota
Forum Posts: 390
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6 March 2013
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11 June 2013 - 8:47 am
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Well, Jerry's reading list is lovely, and very def. start there. Plus you can also search people's posts, esp. on the treatment and diagnosis boards, also the share your story boards. Pretty much everyone shares their story (and, as you'll find out...some things are fairly common, others not so much, but every single dog is different, so grain of salt and all that!). Some people expect diffuculties, but have a relatively easy go. Others, teh reverse. Most of us fall somewhere in between, with some "tests" passed with flying colors, and others being hurdles.

As for expected survival time...totally depends on why the amp, like Jerry said. If it's b/c of a regular injury or something, he probably has a normal lifespan in front of him. Cancers...well, it depends on the cancer and the treatment options and, well, luck of the draw, truthfully.

Diets...again, varies. Some dogs eat an immuno-supportive diet, some eat the Cancer Diet, some eat noting but hot dogs and fancy feast. (I have NO idea what kind of negligent parent would feed their dog nothing but hot dogs and fancy feast for two weeks :innocentwhistling: :p) For real, though, it really does vary. You can WANT to feed your dog some Immunoboosting SuperFoods of MegaAwesome until the cows come home, but if he won't've got to find something else. Eating nothing but Buddig lunch "meat" and hot dogs might not kill you, but starving to death most certainly will. :-) Lots of posts (and a whole board) devoted to the topic.

Our experience--we are at 3.5months out. We had an easy (relatively speaking) recovery, no issues with amp-related mobility or pain or seromas or anything. OTOH, we struggled tremendously with food, and also with some other complications related to his other conditions. So again, everyone is different.

"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

Columbia, MO
Forum Posts: 483
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10 December 2011
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12 June 2013 - 1:14 pm
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Not to scare you but everyone calls the recovery period "the two weeks from hell".  Some have an uneventful recovery and others have it a little harder.  My Daisy's recovery was pretty uneventful but it did take her longer to get back to her normal self.  It wasn't until the fourth week post amp I started seeing my happy girl again.

Remember this is major surgery and your pup will most likely just want to lay around and not be interested in anything.  Daisy did not want to eat her regular food.  I had to hand feed her boiled chicken or hotdogs on the couch where she spent almost her entire recovery period so don't be surprised if your pup goes off her food.  You might have to get creative to get her to eat.

Panting.  They pant ALOT during recovery.  This is hard because panting can be caused by pain or by too much pain medicine.  Daisy panted so bad two days post surgery that it freaked me out.  This site helped me to realize that it was probably just all the drugs from her surgery working out of her system.

I can't speak to the cancer part of your journey as Daisy lost her leg to arthritis.

Just remember if you have questions/concerns call your vet and always feel free to post here on the site.  We have all been on this journey.

Best of luck!

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

Kelowna, British Columbia Canada
Forum Posts: 127
Member Since:
28 February 2013
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13 June 2013 - 4:58 pm
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Hello Tracy and your 3-legged wonder (sorry,don't see a name),

I hope the recovery is going well...and yes, every animal acts/reacts different in their recovery depending on cancer type, meds they are on post amp, age of animal ,etc.  As mentioned, until you are able to get them off most of the post surgery drugs, there will be some tough days but after that period, you will slowly get your buddy back.

As for information, resources, i found the book " the cancer survival guide' by Drs Dressler/Ettinger - very good resource, as well as the resources on Jerry's Readings.

As to "how much time" you will have with your buddy, no one can say. As a wise person said on this site, "there are no date stamps on our butts", whether 2-legged, 3-legged, or 4-legged, etc....You do your best with your resources, your time, energies and how your animal is doing.  There are no right or wrong decisions we make, each decision is so personal and we all have to travel this road and that is why this community is SO important to be able to support one another, helpful resources, etc.


Don't hesitate to ask if you have specific questions, as someone on here likely has an answer for you.


All the best,

Stirling and Tahoe



"Tahoe" - Our Amazing Superman and Best Friend.

Dec. 01-03 to Aug. 19-14

Diagnosed with Periarticular Hystiocystic Sarcoma Feb 14-13; Amputation March 18-13, and diagnosed with STS April-14. Tahoe touched so many people while visiting us, leaving a massive void in our lives. Always Missed, Never Forgotten!!

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