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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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Lolah's surgery is tomorrow
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Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
17 October 2008
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26 October 2008 - 10:22 pm
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Lolah will have her amputation tomorrow. It is her right rear leg and I am thinking about ordering the harness for her. The dog in the video is a front amputee and I’m wondering if it is just as useable for a back amputee. Also any recommendations on anything else she may need?  Her bedding will be downstairs, someone always with her etc………….I am hoping it all goes smoothly……what is the aprroximate time she will be at the hospital  if all goes well? I am missing her already!

Forum Posts: 115
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9 October 2008
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26 October 2008 - 10:59 pm
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I had the same question about the harness.  Jake also had his rear limb amputated on Oct 14th.  Jerry graciously advised us that the harness is helpful for front and rear amps.  As of last night Jake has been using his harness and it makes it SOOOO… much easier to help him up or down a few stairs.  We love it!  It is very adustable and sturdy too!  The harness doesn’t interfere with his incision either because it is behind where the harness fits.  I don’t allow Jake to lay down with it on though because I don’t want it cutting into the incision if he chose to turn around and lick his incision (which he occasionally does… the doc said it’s okay).

Jake was in the hospital for 5 and 1/2 days but all dogs are different.  Some come home 2 days later.  Make sure you get lots of old towels and sheets ready.  I put sheets over Jake’s dog beds so that if his wound drained on it, I could change it and keep his bedding area clean.  I used towels to help him walk as well as spread them around where he lays on the dining room rug (just in case the drainage seeped onto the rug).  I also bought skid resistant mats/fabric and cut them and spread them around my hardwood floors where Jake walks to prevent him from slipping… this is really important because he fell a few times and one time the incision wouldn’t stop bleeding until 20 minutes later.  I put cold and hot packs on Jake (the Bella pack is available on this site) but Jake didn’t really want me fussing with him.  He tried to shrug it off when I put it on.  The Bella has the strap which mine doesn’t have… would be better. 

We will be keeping you and Lolah in our thoughts and prayers all day tomorrow and hope for an uneventful and pawsitive recovery!  Please keep us posted!   


Luv Spirit Jake, Smooch, Baby Gus & Mom (Sherri)

Forum Posts: 428
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16 February 2008
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26 October 2008 - 11:10 pm
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Hi Christine,

Though front-leg amputees could usually benefit more from the Ruffwear harness , rear-leg amputees would find the harness very helpful in situations like getting in/out vehicles, stairs, etc.    The first couple of weeks post-op, besides putting the harness on as safety measure, you can also use a a bath towel sling to help support Lolah’s rear end while she is adjusting, particularly when she goes to do her business.

Put runners/rugs on slippery floorings (hardwood, tile, …)  Put a boxer on her if you found her licking the incision.

Usually the vets would keep them overnight after surgery, even two, three nights are not uncommon.

Good luck tomorrow, and please keep us posted on Lolah’s progress, and a speedy recovery!


Metro Kansas City
Forum Posts: 248
Member Since:
23 October 2008
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26 October 2008 - 11:30 pm
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Calamity & I wish Lolah the smoothest srugery ever. We’ll keep you in our thoughts when we light our candle in the morning.

Calamity doesn’t have a harness & she has not missed a beat getting up & around although, with her lameness for most of the past year, she had learned to be a tripawd before she had to.

Also, Calamity was only in the hospital overnight after her amputation. Each dog is different & each doctor different, follow your doctor’s advise & she’ll be home in no time. Maybe you can go visit with her after she wakes up a bit? I went to see Calamity in the evening, she was groggy & didn’t want to move, but I rubbed her head & went I would quit she would just look at me as if to tell me not to stop.

Janie & Calamity

The Rainbow Bridge

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27 October 2008 - 1:43 am
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Christine, we are wishing you much luck and love and success for Lolah tomorrow. Please let us know how the surgery goes. She sounds like a great dog that will come through with flying colors.

Like Calamity and KC say, every dog is definitely different with the recovery time. Remember to be patient and just take things day by day. Try not to compare her recovery with others. Just live for every moment, and stay pawsitive. These feelings will go a very long way in her recovery.

As far as other things she will need, besides a pawsitive atttitude…hmmm…risers for her food and water are a definite help. Even if you put the dishes on low boxes up against a wall, it will make it much easier for her to balance when she does decide to get up to eat and drink on her own (that may take a day or two).

Keep her off slippery floors, and the best thing is to keep her confined to small areas for at least the next two weeks until she gets her strenght up. Remember, she’s using her muscles in new ways and it’ll take time to build up strength.

Good luck tomorrow. Hang in there, it will get easier. Please let us know how things are going.

Your friend,

Spirit Dog Jerry, Rene & Jim

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Forum Posts: 4
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17 October 2008
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8 November 2008 - 7:40 pm
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Thank you everyone for your supportive posts. Lolah came home just two days after surgery with no drainage tubes/weepy incision etc. The surgeon told me she was trying to stand up just 12 hours after the surgery. I couldn’t visit her because the hospital (Red Bank in NJ) is 3 1/2 hours away. I was fine when I brought her in (I remained positive and didn’t malinger over the goodbyes—-she went very trustingly with the vet tech) and that night the surgeon called after  surgery to tell me that all went fine. It was the second night when I called and they tech told me that she had just brought Lolah in from a walk, she was doing well etc, that I really started missing her!

The surgeon told me she could be in anywhere from 2 to 5 days. I was thrilled when on the second morning he said I could pick her up that day! I did order the Ruff Harness for her but haven’t received it yet. She seems great , up and down.. .no problem….. refused to sleep downstairs and has been maneuvering the stairs on her own since the second day.She chewed her sutures out on day three  back we went for staples and a No Bite Collar……she then managed her way out of that and all but two staples were missing! She is on an antibiotic now and the incision is closing/healing no drainage, etc.Her hair is even growing back already!

She is  on a raw diet (this is month 2) and is bored with it ..totally refusing to eat it (can you imagine -raw meat for Gosh Sake!!!!)so I have been giving her a handful of kibble at times along with some other things………..She is on holistic chemo which consists of 52 pills a day along with her VFT injections——I have taken to putting the pills in natural peanut butter as she caught onto the -meat pill pocket–pretty quickly.

To me though she seems depressed and I am weaning her off the Tramadol and Metacam now and hoping that will make the difference!

Again everyone –thanks so much for your support!


The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 27785
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8 November 2008 - 9:29 pm
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Hi Chrstine, what great news about Lolah, sooo glad to hear it. What a superstar for jumping over this hurdle so quickly! She sure sounds like quite a little magician though, making those staples disappear the way she did. Are you sure the surgeon didn’t give her thumbs when she had her surgery? 

As far as the depression you suspect, try to keep in mind that dogs do not get depressed. In my opinion, that’s a human thing that pawrents like to project onto their dogs when they see them coping with adversity. In all likelihood, she’s most likely just got a decreased appetite due to the pain meds that she was exposed to, as well as all the new changes in her medications and diet. Sounds like some home cooking might be in order to stimulate her appetite. There are some great recipe ideas here in the forums.

When you get a chance we would love to learn more about the holistic chemo she is on, in a separate thread, like you did about the Venus Fly Trap injections she’s getting. 

Also, do you think your friend the vet might be interested in participating in an online chat here sometime in the near future? This is something I know all of us would love to learn more about and she sounds like quite an expert!

Keep us posted on how she does, we’re thinking of you and sending lots of pawsitive energy!



It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Read my story here.

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