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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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Preparing for Copper's Amputation
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Member Since:
21 November 2022
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22 November 2022 - 1:38 pm
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Hi there, my name is McKenzie, and my 4yo vizsla, Copper, is scheduled to have a rear limb amputation next week. 

A little back story, back in June of this year we noticed Copper start to limp while playing fetch. So, we decided to rest him and he went back to the energetic pup that he is. Then the same thing happened in July and then again in August. The occurrence in August was the last straw, and we took him to see our wonderful vet. Physical exam didn’t come up with why he was having the issue, so we did x-rays. Those came back possible signs of hip dysplasia or infection. We then moved to do a bone biopsy, which lead us to an inconclusive diagnosis of Chondronoma or Chondrosarcoma. That took us to the oncologist, who referred us to surgery for amputation. This whole process has been a fast paced whirlwind of emotions and logistics. So, as we’re coming to the day of surgery we are trying to prepare as much as possible. We’ve gotten runners for our hardwood floors, and some CBD treats to help keep our bird dog relaxed post-op. 

My questions: What can we expect post-op? Any tips or tricks that you learned to assist your pup with the change? Anything that would be helpful to keep a hunting breed calm post-op? Is doggie physical therapy worth the cost? Any specific DOs/DON’Ts that we should be aware of? What will help make car rides easier? How to make the first car ride back home post-op easier?

While this has been an emotional journey for us and our young puppers, we are remaining positive and hopeful that this will lead to a long/happy/healthy life. 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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22 November 2022 - 1:59 pm
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Hi McKenzie and Copper, welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join! We are sorry you have to but glad you found us and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

You’ve left no stone unturned to find out what’s going on. I hope that gives you the confidence you need to know that if amputation is the only option to help him feel good again, you did everything right to make sure of that.

Be sure to check out our What to Expect articles , and the Tripawds Recovery Shopping List . Also, Jerry’s Required Reading List is helpful too.

There are so many things to know so I don’t want to overwhelm you too much. It sounds like you’re taking all the steps necessary to ensure a good recovery. To answer your questions:

What can we expect post-op? Any tips or tricks that you learned to assist your pup with the change?

Aside from the info in the links above, I’d say that keeping an optimistic and positive attitude is the best medicine for Copper. It’s our attitude and good pain management that makes or breaks a recovery.

Anything that would be helpful to keep a hunting breed calm post-op?

My biggest suggestion is interactive brain games . Scent work, food puzzles, anything that tires the mind is very helpful! 

Is doggie physical therapy worth the cost?

Absolutely! Dogs who go to rehab recover better. That’s why the Tripawds Foundation will pay for your first rehab visit .

Any specific DOs/DON’Ts that we should be aware of?

Oh that’s such a big question and it reminds me we should do a post to cover it. The biggest DO is to keep a good attitude, and know that all dogs recover at their own pace. The biggest DON’T is to compare his recovery against others. Copper is unique, and will recover on his own timeline.

What will help make car rides easier? How to make the first car ride back home post-op easier?

For now, the car ride home and back to the vet for a re-check are easier if you have help. Knowing Vizsla’s he probably won’t need assistance but if you have a high clearance vehicle it’s helpful to have an extra set of hands to lift him in and get him out. We love the Ruffwear Flagline for this purpose too, and since he’ll be missing a rear leg, he can start wearing it soon after surgery.

I have to run for now but I hope this helps. Stay tuned for feedback from others and keep us posted!

PS Consider checking out the Tripawds e-books library for more helpful info 🙂


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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22 November 2022 - 8:22 pm
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You are a wonderful  advocate for Cooper and kudos for your well thought out questions.

Jerry has addressed  everything  so well, as usual.  I can only say ditto.

We know this is a time of uncertainty, lack of sleep and lots of worrying.  The more you arm yourself  with information,  just like you are doing, the more  you will be the strong and confident pack leader Cooper needs.

The only thing I would add is that, when you to go pick him up from the clinic,  don’t even bother  to draw att to the incision.   All Cooper needs to see is you looking  into his druggy eyes, smiling and telling him he’s going home!

When he gets home, drink and peeing  are important,  but eating and pooping may be off a few days.  He’ll pro be sent home with Gabapentin,  an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic.   Some come home with a Fentynal  patch too.  

The bliss of being  dog is not worrying  about a thing!  Cooper is just gettin’ on with gettin’ on and could care less about “statistics ” or whether he has three legs or four. All he cares about mis veing pain free and veing  with the hoomans who adore him😎

We’re  right here by your side all through  recovery and as Cooper celebrates liv9ng ,life mto mthe fullest….and he will!


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:
21 November 2022
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23 November 2022 - 8:31 am
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Thank you both so much for the information! This is all extremely helpful. 

Member Since:
13 March 2021
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23 November 2022 - 10:10 am
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Hi there!  I’m sorry to hear about Copper, as it’s so stressful and heartbreaking. But you will all get through this! My Corgi, Shadow, was only 2 1/2 when he was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma. Similarly, he had been on and off limping for 6 months or so, and we just assumed it was the crazy corgi playing.  

All the links you have already been sent were super helpful to us!  I’d only add/emphasize a couple of things….first, keep him on all the pain meds!  Don’t scrimp. Dogs hide their pain well, so sometimes we might think they don’t need it…but this is a giant surgery and I know my guy did better once we just stuck with the regular pain med schedule. One additional benefit of staying on the pain meds is because they often make the dog sleepy, it helps with keeping them from wanting to be too active.  As I recall, within a couple of weeks he was feeling pretty darn good!

We had best luck with one of the donuts, rather than the cone, to keep him from licking. So much more comfy!  Also…it’s easy to be almost ‘traumatized’ by seeing the incision, and also the horrible bruising and “sagging” around the incision that comes as it heals.  It’s ugly, but as long as there is no infection, it is just part of the process…it does go away and the fur does grow back!  

Anyway…just a few more thoughts for you. Best of luck to you and Copper!

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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23 November 2022 - 2:07 pm
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Hello and welcome.

You have received great advice on surgery and recovery, I thought you might like some inspiration.

Bart was a Vizsla and long time cancer survivor who won his AKC Master Hunting Title AFTER front limb amputation!

Bart’s Blog  The first page of the blog

Bart Wins AKC ACE Award

Good luck with surgery next week and keep us posted!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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