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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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Is amputation recovery similar to TPLO recovery?
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Forum Posts: 137
Member Since:
27 May 2012
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11 June 2012 - 2:05 am
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 To anyone who has had a dog go through both TPLO and amputation, is the recovery for the dog similar? im trying to prepare myself for what to expect. When Porthos had his TPLO surgeries he did fine (i didnt! but am tougher now.) Ive read that the first two weeks of amputation recovery are really really hard.

I think that amputation due to OS is harder emotionally on the pawrent because cancer is involved. I’ve looked at the photo section to try and prepare myself, I want to be strong for my boy and be as prepared as I can be.

Angel Porthos, Pyrenean Mastiff, 7 years old Os front right leg, DX 18 May 2012, Amputation 14 June 2012, Hip Dysplasia, Two TPLO surgeries. Is now somewhere over the rainbow, 21 November 2013.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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11 June 2012 - 10:14 am
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Well!  I haven’t done amputation but have done TPLO on a three legged dog, not once but twice!  BUT I have verified this and TPLO surgeries are way, way, way harder!!!  I’m not discounting the difficulty in amputation recovery but there is a big difference because anything screwed into the bone takes longer to heal and you have to be seriously cautious of not using the leg. That’s not the case with an amputation. 

I would guess that an amputation is like doing a femur head removal (which I’ve done twice on a 4 legged dog).  You need a couple of days of down time but then they need to be active to keep from getting weak.


Hope that eases your mind.

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

Rock Hill, SC
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11 June 2012 - 11:01 am
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Zeus’ brother, Angel Merlin, broke both ACL’s in his lifetime – one was traditional repair and the other was TPLO.  I would say, hands down, that Zeus’ amputation recovery was WAY easier than either of Merlin’s recoveries.  With amputation, they ususally take the entire leg, which means cutting muscle and tissue as opposed to the TPLO which cuts the bone.

As Cometdog said above, we certainly do not want to discount the pain from amputation – it is major surgery and there will be pain.  But, in my personal experience, TPLO was harder.

Good luck!


Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...

The Rainbow Bridge

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11 June 2012 - 4:06 pm
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Yep, that’s exactly what I’ve heard. 

The emotional recovery from amputation is much harder for humans. As for TPLO, we’ve never been through it but I’ve talked to lots of folks who say the confinement period is very restrictive and difficult. With amputation, recovery is recommended but it’s not as critical as it is with TPLO. Based on what I’ve heard, the recovery time is generally longer for TPLO.

I always tell folks that if you can get through anything like TPLO or FHO, amputation recovery should be a breeze. I hope it is for you and Porthos!

Finally, remember that the first two weeks of amputation recovery aren’t always hard for all dogs. Every one is different. Some breeze right through it, others have complications. Stay pawsitive and strong, and those two weeks will be a little easier even if you run into some side-effects. 

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Forum Posts: 137
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11 June 2012 - 9:42 pm
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Thank you all for replying.

Well that does make me feel a little better about all this. knowing that the tumor pain will be gone and that the amputation should be easier on him than the TPLO surgeries makes a real difference. I just hope his knees and hips are strong enough so that he can get up and walk.

Thanks again.

Angel Porthos, Pyrenean Mastiff, 7 years old Os front right leg, DX 18 May 2012, Amputation 14 June 2012, Hip Dysplasia, Two TPLO surgeries. Is now somewhere over the rainbow, 21 November 2013.

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11 June 2012 - 9:49 pm
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Chloe hasn’t gone through both (just an amputation), but I did help to rehabilitate a dog that underwent TPLO (to both knees on different occasions), so I can make a little bit of a comparison.

The dog that underwent TPLO (rottweiler named Lottie that I took care of frequently for a neighbor) was larger than Chloe, but had a similar demeanor in that they both wanted to be mobile again (play, walk etc…).  The first time Lottie underwent surgery, she was pretty much bedridden for a week (meds etc..) and it took a good month or so of slow and assisted rehabilitation before she was back to ‘pre op’ demeanor/mobility etc.  Chloe was up and at em in about 2 weeks (assisted for the first week, independent after 1.5weeks).  And though each dog had different circumstances and I might be comparing apples to oranges between dogs and situations, as a dog owner who spent a good deal of time with both dogs before and after big surgeries, it seemed that amputation was an easier recovery. Although Chloe’s fur took almost a year to fully grow back…just an aesthetic thing.

Good luck!

-Chloe’s mom

Chloe became a rear amp tripawd on 7-29-10. Another tumor was removed on front leg 2-20-14. Found 3rd tumor on neck 2-2015, but she's still kicking cancer's butt at age 14. Chloe's blog

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