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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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How well can an 11y/o Golden adjust to amputation?
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Member Since:
27 October 2022
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27 October 2022 - 8:14 pm
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I have an 11 y/o Golden Retriever with front radius legion, most likely osteosarcoma. I’m 99% sure going the amputation/chemo route but just want to ask about recovery. He is spry, has bright eyes, great appetite, wants to go on walks and play with his bro (which I stop right away now) – he is not in decline. Do dogs have emotional downswings after this? Will he be depressed? Will he be able to still play with his brother? I am not expecting years. It hasn’t spread to his lungs, and I have pet insurance. I would love to hear a success story about a pupper his age, who has gone thru this and thrived for as long as possible after. It’s not about the amount of time, it’s about his quality of life during the time he has left.


The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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28 October 2022 - 10:54 am
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Hi Jenn, welcome! Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so post away. What’s your pup’s name?

I can tell right away that you have a pragmatic yet hopeful attitude about the diagnosis, which osteosarc sucks for sure, but understanding that it’s quality over quantity after amputation, well that is the best medicine for the two of you. 

It sounds like your pup is a great candidate who can do very well after surgery. Like humans, for many dogs age is just a number. How do your vets feel about his ability to cope? I’m guessing they give surgery the green light?

To answer your questions:

Do dogs have emotional downswings after this? Will he be depressed? 

Well, some do, some don’t. Medication plays a big role in how we view their emotions. Many people believe their dog is depressed when in reality it’s the side effects from good pain management . Other times, the dog really is feeling blue that they can’t go outside and run wild for a while. And sometimes, a Tripawd mirrors the depressed emotions of their human. It’s often said that amputation is harder on us than it is on them, and that is very very true. The better attitude we have during recovery, the more pets reflect that pawsitivity back to us.

We wrote this post you might find helpful:

My Tripawd is Depressed, Now What?

Will he be able to still play with his brother? 

Absolutely! You’ll need to keep an eye on things closely during recovery, at least until stitches are out. And once they are, his stamina will be lower so you will need to get him to take breaks and insist on shorter, more frequent play sessions. But for sure he will! Here’s an old post we wrote about the topic:

How Do Canine Siblings React to New Tripawds?

Stay tuned for feedback from others and keep us posted on how things are going!

Member Since:
27 October 2022
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28 October 2022 - 11:02 am
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Thanks Jerry – his name is Tucker. We met with the oncologist yesterday and have a surgical consult 11/4.

Sadly, I moved 4 years ago and haven’t found a vet I like but did feel comfortable with the oncologist. My first Golden had bladder cancer and went thru chemo, so I’m not too worried about that part. I’m sure I’ll be searching/reading everything possible to ensure it’s a smooth transition. 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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28 October 2022 - 11:18 am
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Well you bet, that’s why we are here for you and Tucker! I’m glad you found a good oncologist and know the chemo drill. If there’s anything we can do to help make this easier please just let us know. 11/4 is soon, let us know how that goes.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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28 October 2022 - 10:40 pm
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Tucker is a mighty lucky boy to have you advocating  for him. 

Jerry really has covered  everything  and I can only ditto.  You are ahead of the game with your pawsitive attitude and commitment  to focus on quality and making every moment t the best moment ever!

And yes, we have had “mature” dogs who have had amputation  and lived out their “natural lifespan” without this crap disease interfering  any further.

Although  I can’t  recall the age of Tripawd Murphy, he beat this crap disease  four years before heading to the Bridge.  Nitro, a Dobie, was around eleven and passed two years later from issues related more to afpge than anything else.  A pup named Shooter had his amputation at fourteen and thrived just fine.  If I recall, he transitioned  later from a tooth extraction problem.  There are many more, but just a quick couple of examples.

Golden are such sweet fun fogs.  I have no doubt  Tucker  will do jist fine after rec.  Recovery is no picnic at first, but I know Tucker’s sparkle will come back slowly but surely.  We can’t  wait to celebrate  all his milestones!

A couple of quick tips.  You’ll want short leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks, then back in for rest.  If you jave hardwood floors you’ll need  non-stop scatter rugs for traction .   He may be off food a few days and may not poop for a few days.  He’ll need to drink and pee though.  

Tucker will spend at least one night at the dully staffed  clinic.  Sometimes  “mature” dogs stay a bit longer.  Mobility  may take a few days too, or may be hopping sooner.  Every  dog recovers  at their own pace in their own way.

Stay connected  and let us know any questions  you have as they come up, okay?


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

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:
4 April 2019
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30 October 2022 - 12:37 am
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Hi Jen and Tucker. I haven’t posted in awhile but do think of my Tripawd family often.

My Brownie was three weeks from his twelth birthday when he had his front left leg amputated. I just wanted to let you know he did fine and was happy and no longer in pain. To be honest he wasn’t the fastest Tripawd but Brownie wasn’t that fast on four. He was more a sniffer and explorer than an athletic boy. He was back to his stubborn, determine, head strong and sweet self about three weeks after surgery and it just got better. 

Just wanted to send postive thoughts to you and Tucker.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

Member Since:
27 October 2022
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30 October 2022 - 10:32 am
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Thanks for the replies. You’ve all made a really difficult decision easier and I’m confident it’s the right thing to do. I’ll be sure to check back in after the surgical consult and surgery. Cancer sucks!

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