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.
JUMP TO FORUMS ↓
Join The Tripawds Community
Learn how to help three legged dogs and cats in the forums below. Browse and search as a guest or register for free and get full member benefits:
Get the new book by the Tripawds founders for life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Download the e-book, and find fun Be More Dog apparel and gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.
Any opinions or experiences shared would be greatly appreciated. I am an 8 yr old Rottie named Una who has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my right rear leg. I began radiation therapy two weeks ago and chemo yesterday to help fight off the cancer. The radiation had already begun to shrink the tumor, however the weakening in my leg caused it to fracture in such a way that it cannot be repaired. My only options now are amputation and chemo or make my trip to the rainbow bridge . My vet suggested amputation however my father sees I am in pain and doesn’t want it to continue. He only wants the best for me and doesn’t want me to go through this pain if it is only for his own desire to love me more. I have already gone through two ACL reconstructions on my rear legs and my father is worried that this additional strain on my remaining leg will only lead to more pain for me, he has read the experiences of the amputees and many studies on this operation and was hoping for any long term experiences. Thank you for any help in this difficult decision and I wish you all luck.
We are so sorry to hear about your situation, and hope that we can help in some way.
First of all, please know that whichever decision you make, it will be the right one for you and your family. There are no wrong decisions. People can give all the advice in the world, but only you know in your heart what is right at this point in your lives together.
If your vet suggested amputation, then there must be a reason why s/he thinks that you can live a good life on three legs, right?
I have a slight hip displaysia, and my amputation hasn’t made tge displaysia any worse than age already has. That is my only experience with this kind of pre-existing health issue before I was diagnosed with OS.
Is your weight good? Are you otherwise healthy? Do you have any lingering weaknesses on your rear legs?
These are just some things to think about, I hope it’s helped a little.
Please keep us posted, know that we are thinking of you, and sending our love your way.
Thanks for your advice. Una is not overweight and only has slight arthritis in her hips. She seems to do okay and the vet’s opinion was to give it a shot as opposed to the alternative. I am receiving all kinds of undue pressure from the immediate family who feel it is in my best interest to put her down, but I don’t want to see her go. When the topic switched to euthanasia this morning at the vets Una literally dragged herself across the floor on the fractured leg to me to lick my face. Even the vet was amazed at her timing. THis has been recommended by 2 different vets and is the course I am leaning towards, but I want to be sure I am doing this for her and not me. Thanks again for letting us share our story.
2 February 2008
Hi Una – this is Darcy Deerhound speaking. I too am sorry to hear about your situation.
Assuming that the answers to Jerry’s questions will be that you are otherwise healthy, my personal opinion is that I would ask for the amputation to go ahead. I wasn’t very thrilled when I had my own leg amputated and it took me a little while to adjust and I also had chemotherapy like you might have but once I got over the surgery, I never had any pain and I’ve been having a really good life. I can run and play and I eat well and I have fun with my brothers and sisters. My Mummy and Daddy were also given the choice of euthanasia for me if they didn’t want the amputation to go ahead but they decided to give the amputation/chemo route a try and they are very glad they did, because it was right for me.
I wish you and your pawrents all the very best as the tough decisions are made.
Darcy – tripawd since 16th October 2007.
***Darcy would love to be your friend on Facebook - just search for Darcy Deerhound***
26 July 2008
We know how hard this decision can be. Amputation has been such a blessing for so many of the dogs who visit here. Again, it boils down to Una’s health, weight, etc.., and, your confidence in your vet’s assessment that Una can live a happy and pain free life after amputation.
Ask yourself – did Una’s ACL reconstruction do the trick – was she pain free after those surgeries? If so I would seriously consider amputation. If you go the amputation route you will be amazed at how resilient Una can be and how happy and normal she can be after the pain in the cancerous leg is removed.
Please keep us updated.
Connie & Radar
4 September 2008
As everyone has expressed, this is an extremely personal decision for each individual. My Irish Wolfhound passed away two plus years after being diagnosed, having his front front left leg amputated, and going through chemotherapy. Certainly he took some time to adjust as he was a giant breed dog and a giant (not overweight) for his breed. It worked well in our situation but you know your dog best and you need to decide. (If you want more information on Finny’s progress from diagnosis through the end, you can check out his blog here).
I think you need to write down a list of concerns and questions for your veterinarian. Because you are concerned about past ACL surgergies, you might want to inquire into the success of other dogs with similar problems. The more information you hold, the more comfortable you will feel with your decision.
18 September 2008
Hi Una, my prayers are with you and your pawrents. I think Jerry said it right, whatever decision your family makes is the right one.
So I’m not trying to sway you. But I will tell you that my surgery (front leg) was last Friday 9/19 and even though I’m an overweight golden at 85 lbs, already I’m hopping around WAY better than my pawrents ever dreamed possible. And I don’t even have my stitches out yet. I do stairs amazingly well – though only a few so far, not the full flight. And the dr told me it’s harder mobility-wise to lose the front leg than a rear one. I’m looking forward to being painfree as I heal up.
However, I get easily worn out and out of breath, and I will have to build up my strength in my front leg and lose some weight I think, to have the same quality of life I had before I ever got sick – which by now was several months ago (since my doctor thought the lump was a sprain for quite a while).
A topic I don’t see mentioned much around here is cost. the surgery cost my pawrents a lot, and that was a major consideration when trying to decide. Obviously utlimately they decided to spend the thousands. I know our people don’t like to think about it, but we should be realistic about this too I think.
22 August 2008
I would say that if your dog did well after ACL surgery then she can handle amputation. My dog Tazzie is a 170 # Mastiff and she had both of her ACLs repaired 2 years ago. Since those surgeries she has relied on her front legs to get around more. 1 month ago she had to have her right front leg amputated because of osteosarcoma, and she has done much better han I expected. We had to help her around for only 1 or 2 days before she figured out how to do everything on her own. I haven’t let her do steps yet because I am afraid of her falling down (we have a long flight up the deck).
Most importantly, the pain in her rear leg will be gone and she will feel much better!
Pam and Tazzie
Thank you all for your responses and kind thoughts. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning so hope all goes well. The only concern is the two flights of steep stairs I must navigate as my pawrent lives in a condo where there is no elevator. Hopefully the harness helps. Wish me luck
Wow you guys, everyone had such great advice for Una, thank you.
I think there are lots of people out there who just don’t truly understand the special bond between a dog and her/his human, so it’s easy for them to say that we dogs would be better off if our pain was ended quickly and we were euthanized. But I think that these people really don’t know how well dogs of all ages and sizes can get along on three legs, if all conditions are right for it.
Yes, there is the issue of cost, and that is another personal issue that I can’t even touch, because we are all in different financial situations. But like Tazzie’s Mom recommended, if you need help paying for it, you can look into something called "Care Credit" which is basically interest free lending for veterinary care.
Una, we are sending you lots of love and healing thoughts your way for tomorrow.
I lived in a walk-up apartment when I had my surgery. During the first few weeks of healing, Dad helped me with a towel under my belly, and then the harness. It wasn’t difficult, just took time to get used to. My potty breaks were timed so that I only had to go up and down about 3 times a day in the first few weeks. After that, it took Dad a while, but he finally realized that I didn’t need as much help, and we did great.
We’ll be thinking of you tomorrow. Please let us know how the surgery goes OK? Good luck!
Una – best of luck tomorrow! And to echo previous comments, you know you best and any decision you make is the right one. I totally and completely agree with Jerry in that I don’t think that people ever understand how strong a bond is between ourselves and our pets… I don’t think I even consider Smokey a pet – he is my child, he is my best friend, and I would do anything for him. But even saying that, I had a very, very difficult time coming to the decision we did – Smokey’s front right leg was amputated on August 20th. Here’s the silly thing – we weren’t able to get in for a month so I thought- great, I can enjoy him with all four legs for another month. And I kick myself now for even saying that, especially considering how much happier he is now that he’s not in pain!
I was completely against amputation until I discovered this site and was able to chat with others who have gone through this. How could I possibly take Smokey’s leg from him? He wasn’t a young pup, how could this work? Three things really pushed me to make my decision – this site, the surgeon connecting me with another pawrent who just went through this in January (she was the most motivating person I had ever spoken with – her energy and happiness for making her decision with her dog just radiated over the phone), and then a friend of mine and although it’s tough to say this, he asked me if I would rather have Smokey with three legs or not at all. And those three things clinched this for me. And knowing that this site is here to keep coming back to and sharing your experiences has been fabulous.
One, of many, things that Smokey has taught me is that he only knows to go as far as he can. When he’s tired, he plops down to take a break. At first I was worried until I realized that he knows himself best and he knows not to push it. He’s 11 1/2 years old, was a few pounds overweight, and the resilience he showed me just had me in constant awe. He would hop up two steps and look at me like – mom? Why are you so worried? Look at me go!
I too was able to apply and use Care Credit – this was a huge help with the surgeon and the hospital. I’ve never understood why vets cannot change their payment options and how they expect everyone to just give hundreds of dollars the day of. I was worried that that was going to keep us from doing all we could for Smokey but in the end somehow it just all worked out.
We are wishing you nothing but the best of luck… Smokey is sending some slobbery kisses your way!
25 September 2008
Riley has had the same diagonsis and we went forward with the amputation. He adapted right away, he still runs, digs, plays with other dogs and is very happy. Were glad we didn’t put him down and he really still enjoys life. It is an inspiration to watch your dog not feel any self pity and to adapt, trust me do the amputation, your dog is worth it.
Chia and Riley
It is an inspiration to watch your dog not feel any self pity and to adapt…
That’s for sure. Thanks for registerring and sharing your thoughts Chia! We look forward to hearing more about Riley.
30 January 2008
Hi Una…This is Eisen’s Mom from the recent blog posting. My vet & those around me said I should put him down since " he should only have about 3 -6 months at best even after chemo" and then people were concerned about cost. I asked them if it were their child and had cancer….if the option was there…would they put them down due to cost too??? For me ….it is the same thing. Well, Eisen who is an unusally large German Shepherd and who has some arthritis in his rear hip is doing great! I would not have changed my decision. I wake up everyday thankful that I hear him snoring! I believe Una would let you know what her desire is. I did not go with chemo due to the fact that it no tumors showed up in his lungs or had spread through the bone. I am giving him daily homeopathic remedies and have changed his diet. He is also on Transfer Factor Plus (human grade). If you pray….the Lord will provide the answer as well….Una is the most pure source to receive that information from. She can’t lie 🙂 Please keep us posted. Love is mightier than the dollar.
Eisen & his Mom
Eisen’s mom – I’m so glad you made the decision you did! It is so hard coming to that decision, not knowing what to expect, but I’ve learned my lesson for sure with this – dogs are beyond resilient and if it gives me another month with Smokey, I’ll take it!
I’m the same way – every time I hear Smokey snore anymore I smile instead of try to wake him up to stop 😉