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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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Cotton: 2 days post op
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Member Since:
13 November 2013
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23 November 2013 - 7:46 pm
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Cotton is 8 yr old lab husky mix, and had his rear leg amputated due to recurrent soft tissue sarcoma this past Thursday.  He has done well going potty, and eating.  We are going to be getting him elevated food bowls, because he looks like he might fall forward when he eats with the bowl on the floor. 

We have several folded comforters throughout the house for him to lay on when he is ready to collapse.

So far the most difficult thing has been see him try to scratch his face with the paw that isn't there anymore.  :-(

We have also noticed that his pooch (you know that sagging spot between the back legs) seems bigger and may be developing a seroma they talk about occurring at the surgical incision.  There also looks to be some bruising starting to develop.  I have photos but am working to upload them.

Wondering if I should put a wrap on, tie on a t-shirt or something to support that pooch?  If anyone has any advice, i would appreciate it.



Member Since:
22 February 2013
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23 November 2013 - 9:24 pm
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Cotton! Cogratulations being home and on tne road to recovery! AND doing your potty business too!! Way to go!!

And bythe way, yo are a very handsome boy with a very sweet face.

Okay...the "not a vet"disclaimer...but what you've described all seems to be "normal".....the swelling, the discoloration around the incision site, etc. You've already researched seromas here so you kow to look for any leakage or really foul odor...that can indicate infection.

My Happy Hannah had tennis ball size swelling that would subside somewhat and then come back, off and on for the first two weeks. My vet recommended icng it and even some GENTLE massage if she would tolerate it. I just opted for cold compresses and stayed away from gently rubbing it.
It eventually. Don't know about the "sling" to keep it compressed........maybe someone else can chime in on that.

Her bruisng was quite colorful and became more colorful as each day progressed the first week.! Obviously, if you have any concerns, let your vet know.

Do hope you can get photos loaded of sweet Cotton! Would love to see and hear more about him!

Take care of yourself and get some rest! You still may have some ups and downs the next week or so. But once the recovery is complete you will be amazed at how well he does!!

Hugs to alk!

Sally and Happy Hannah

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Columbia, MO
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10 December 2011
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24 November 2013 - 8:17 am
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I'm so glad to hear Cotton is home!  Now starts the tough part.  I don't have any experience with seromas as Daisy didn't develop one but they say to watch for it to get oozy and smelly -- a sign of infection.    My vet sent Daisy home with a compression bandage that was left on for 2 days.  That is supposed to help with preventing seromas but lots of dogs here came home with nothing at all so I don't think there is one norm for wrapping vs. not.  Could be the location of the amp that determines that.  Daisy lost a front leg.  Daisy did have some pretty nasty looking bruising (deep red and purple) but it actually went away fairly quickly.

Daisy is such a princess that she was hand fed on the couch LOL.  She had no interest in trying to stand and eat her regular food or actually being anywhere in the house except the couch or my bed (not an easy feat getting an 80 lb. surgical patient up on the bed at night).  She spent her time recuperating on the couch which is where she likes to sleep during the day.  In order to get her to eat and drink I had to bring it to her.  She had lots of boiled chicken and hot dogs.  Only things I could her interested in eating.

Best of luck with Cotton's recovery!

Marla and Daisy


My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

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Member Since:
24 September 2009
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24 November 2013 - 12:48 pm
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Yay Cotton, I'm glad you're back with your people!

The seroma thing is a pain in the neck and not very attractive. For front leg amputees vets often put vet wrap bandages on the incision to encourage the body to absorb the fluids, but for rear leggers it's tricky. Most often a quick trip to the vet to drain the fluid is the easiest solution. It's an in-office procedure that takes about two minutes. Gross, but it works. You may want to get him in tomorrow to have them do that.

Otherwise it sounds like a good recovery to me! Keep us posted.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

New Jersey
Member Since:
25 May 2013
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24 November 2013 - 6:12 pm
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Good news that Cotton is home! These first two to three weeks are the toughest. Take it day at a time, talk with your vet over any concerns or changes, don't hesitate they should be there to advise and help. We'll keep our paws crossed Cottons recoup goes as smooth as possible.

Esther and her Snoop

Member Since:
13 November 2013
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24 November 2013 - 7:32 pm
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Thanks everyone!  I am trying to think of a way to wrap that pooch so it has some support & maybe the fluid will be reabsorbed faster.

Cotton is doing so awesome, much better than I was anticipating.  He hasn't made a sound, except to growl at the cats to keep them from his food smiley  He apparently knows that his food contains medicine cuz he won't eat very much.  I have learned that cut up string cheese, cream cheese, peanut butter, and chicken nuggets are awesome to disguise the 4 pills he has to take every 8 hours.

His usual laying position was always on the bad leg, so its been tough for him to get comfy. He has started to lay on the surgical site already so that's another good sign.  He has gone out through the doggie door, but can't seem to come back in through it.  we try to open the door before he gets there so he doesn't have to use doggie door, but he is FAST with his tripawd walk.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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24 November 2013 - 8:01 pm
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Oh, this is a good update! I KNOW you are feeling so mich better, as well as Cotton!

Yeah, if he's laying on his incision site already...really good sign! I thinkt was five weeks before Happh Hannan did that! I remember how thrilled we both were!

I think tramadol is supposed to be one of the most bitter tasting pills arond. So f they ever get a hit that the pill is hidden, they'll boycott the treat n a neartbeat!

He's figuring everything about pretty quickly! What a good boy! I know you are soooooo proud!
Keep these great posts coming!! Is it time for poopie celebration dance yet?

Hugs to all!

Sally and Happy Hannah

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Member Since:
12 March 2013
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24 November 2013 - 8:18 pm
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We used Pill Pockets for giving Murphy his pills. The vet's office also has another brand of the same type of thing that we have been buying there. Gus has had to take several kinds of pills over the years. We tried any number of things (peanut butter, cheese, baby food, etc.), but he would only take those for just so long and then tell us that he wasn't being fooled any more. The Pockets have been our most successful method for getting pills down with a minimum of fuss.

Kathi and Murphy

Murphy is a five year old Lab/Chessie cross. He was hit by a car on 10/29/12 and became a Tripawd on 11/24/12. On 2/5/13, he had a total hip replacement on his remaining back leg. He has absolutely no idea that he has only three legs!

UPDATE: Murphy lived his life to the fullest, right up until an aggressive bone lesion took him across the Rainbow Bridge on April 9, 2015 and he gained his membership in the April Angels. Run free, my love. You deserve it!

Lancaster, PA
Member Since:
17 May 2013
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25 November 2013 - 6:24 am
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Ahh yes, the pill pockets were a life-saver for meds! We started out using lunch meat and cheese, but Barret got smart and would spit the pill out. The pill pockets worked great, he had no idea there were pills in there - even the super bitter Tramadol (by the way, I don't suggest tasting "just to see what its like" YUCKO!)

Congrats on getting home - hope everything else is smooth sailing from here on out! Keep us updated!

Barret was diagnosed with Hemangiopericytoma May 16, 2013. Front left leg/scapula/pectoral muscle was amputated on June 11, 2013 and we've never looked back. Follow our story on and read my column on That Pet Blog

Member Since:
30 May 2013
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26 November 2013 - 11:09 am
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I had to use hotdogs for TJs meds... now there isn't a safe hotdog (or wrapper) withing 200ft of TJ.

Glad to hear that your hound is home and doing well.

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