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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 surgery
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Forum Posts: 6
Member Since:
7 November 2008
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9 November 2008 - 8:53 am
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First, thanks so much for all of your support.  We are gearing up for amputation on Monday – Dutch’s right front leg.  Of course, we recently bought a 2 story house, with our bedrooms and familiy room upstairs.  My husband has been carrying our 60lb furry son up and down the stairs (16 of them!) several times a day for the last couple of weeks.  Today we’re moving ourselves, Dutch and our newborn baby girl into the guest bedroom downstairs.  I’m probably a paranoid mom, but the nursery would be at the upstairs, opposite end of the house and I get up to check on our daughter several times a night.  And leaving Dutch to sleep by himself is NOT an option.  So we’re going to pack all 4 of us and the portable crib into one cozy room!  Anyone have any insight into how and/or when tripaws handle stairs?  We’re ordering one of those harnesses today, but I’d guess it will be a while before we could use it.

The vet told us to have canned pumpkin available to help Dutch with constipation from the medicines he gets during surgery.  From those of you who’ve been thru this, what else do we need to make sure we have in the house for Dutch when he comes home?

Thanks again – Jeanie, Jim & Dutch

Forum Posts: 428
Member Since:
16 February 2008
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9 November 2008 - 2:28 pm
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Hi Jeanie & Jim, the first few days after surgery, you might want to use a bath towel or a cut up canvas bag, wrap around Dutch’s chest as a sling to give him some support.  After the wound heals up later on, the harness would be very handy to help him in tricky situations like getting him in/out of vehicles,  on stairs, and even share some burden off him when he starts to get tired during a walk.

Since he will be groggy, tired and weak after the surgery, don’t introduce stairs to him yet.  Each dog is different, Genie was never able to use stairs without assistance anymore, but she was content; whereas Jerry navigated stairs on three even better than Genie was on four.  In any event, carpeted stairs definitely would be safer for tripawds.

Place runners or rugs on slippery surface, e.g. hardwood floor, tiles…  Raise the food/water dishes so that his remaining front leg won’t get strain too much.

We are all thinking of Dutch and your family. Good luck tomorrow and have a speedy recovery!


Forum Posts: 345
Member Since:
25 April 2008
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9 November 2008 - 3:55 pm
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Hello & Welcome Dutch & Pawrents,

    I don’t thing your being paranoid at all. It’s just your motherly instincts taking over. I did the same thing for Buster, that is a long flight of stairs to go up to daily. Their front legs carry the most weight so until he is recovered I wouldn’t chance it. Till this day I am most comfortable with Buster on the 1st floor of the house. I also had a ramp built for him off the deck. Since he is around 10 yrs of age, the new gait of having three legs can put some pressure on the neck and spine, so just to make it easier its still there even though he can do a few steps without supervision.
   Buster is a sensitive dog, all dogs are different, initially he had no interest in food that I attribute to all the meds . So I cooked chicken and broth for him. The pumpkin is a good regulator and I still use it in his diet daily. Keep the incision area clean, put on a clean shirt it also helps to deter licking. Check  his temp for infection and make
sure he drinks plenty of water to help with hydration.
Speedy recovery…

Kim & Angel Buster

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
–Anatole France

Forum Posts: 262
Member Since:
28 July 2008
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9 November 2008 - 8:57 pm
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I can certainly understand your packing up to be downstairs. I got Titan my bullmastiff a crib matress (he doesn’t do dog beds) and slept on the couch next to him for 2 weeks. A couple of tips I learned was Jerry suggested putting a little gatorade in water. Titan wouldn’t drink the plain water when I brought it to him. I also had some hydrogen peroxide wips (titan had a seroma fluid build up) they couldn’t restaple it so I made sure I kept it clean so he wouldn’t get an infection. Sorry for my babbling. If you have stairs to get him outside you may want to help him down. When Titan was figuring out how to adjust his weight for going to the bathroom I would stay on his right side so he wouldn’t tip over. Titan also had his right front leg amputated. Try to keep Dutch as calm as you can. The meds made Titan feel so good he tried running etc…Just remember you are going to have good and bad days so keep being positive. Also make sure you get some sleep. I barely did and I was exhausted (and I don’t have kids) Make sure you take care of yourselves. We used a short sleeve tshirt on Titan and made a knot in the back with hair elastic so nothing was hanging down.

Let us know how it goes!

Titan and Heidi

Forum Posts: 84
Member Since:
2 October 2008
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9 November 2008 - 9:18 pm
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I slept on the couch for the first while too after my dog, Sophie’s, surgery. Even though the bedroom is first floor, I was afraid she would try to get up on the bed.  I found that "egg crate" foam, doubled over and covered with old flannell sheets, made a wonderful and comfortable mattress for her that she still loves to this day (and was only $20 at Bed n Bath, versus most dog beds which are closer to $100 and harder to roll up and tuck out of the way if not needed).

I gave Sophie a few weeks before navigating serious stairs, and since then she has been fine with them, although I do try to limit how often she has to navigate them.

Cheap runners now dot the house, making it easier for her to move over previously hardwood only floors.

Like Heidi, I found a t-shirt, knotted in back, helpful to keep Sophie from scratching/licking the wound.   I also absolutely agree about the self care,and  noticed that much of what I did felt as helpful for me as for her…  I think taking care of ourselves is also important in helping us set a calm mood for our healing pups!

 I found Sophie to be in pretty good spirits the first few days back (the drugs?) but then she went into a slump for about a week- this made me very anxious, but I’ve heard from many that it is the norm.  I agree as well about taking Dutch’s temperature daily if you feel comfortable/want- for me it was useful probably primarily in helping quell my own anxiety, seeing that her temp was normal (lots of vaseline was helpful for this, she really didn’t seem to mind).  After about a week, she stopped the painkillers, and right around the same time her mood lifted again.  I have noticed better and worse days since, energy wise, with no rhyme or reason that I can make out…

The addition of some home cooked food during this time also I think made things easier for both of us- she loved the special attention and food, and I got to feel more "useful."  I just learned, however, that garlic can be dangerous for dogs- something I didn’t know as I was adding it to her groud burger, thinking it would have immune supportive properties!

Good luck, and keep us updated!

Christine and Sophie 






Forum Posts: 28
Member Since:
2 November 2008
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9 November 2008 - 11:46 pm
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Hi, Jeanie, Jim and Dutch-

Being on the first floor is a GOOD thing.  You will all sleep much better knowing that you can be there with him when he needs you.  My spouse and I are taking turns staying downstairs with our dog, Blackjack, who just came home tonight.  The T-shirt idea is a good one to prevent licking.  I tried to put Blackjack’s Elizabethan collar back on tonight so I could sleep without worrying about it, but he made such a fuss that I gave up and got a shirt.  I hadn’t heard about the canned pumpkin, but I think we will get some just in case.  We managed to get Blackjack up our 14 steps when we brought him home, but we haven’t yet figured out getting him out to do his business.  We have lots of training pads on the floor, but I’m not sure he’ll us them.  Anyway, good luck tomorrow!  We’ll be pulling for all of you.

West Chester PA
Forum Posts: 104
Member Since:
10 August 2008
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10 November 2008 - 9:47 am
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Bonnie had her right front leg amputated and we have a two story house also.  Therefore we spent several weeks on the first floor.  I just carried down a twin bed mattress and slept on it on the floor.  Bonnie loved being close and touched so it was the nearest that I could get and still move in the morning. 

Steps are interesting with Bonnie now.  She went up them after the first week, but does not do going down them well at all.  Now she comes down but only when my hand is there to catch her if she falls.  It only took one stumble to make her wait for me to be there.  Still, if I am not around, I gate off the stairs so she does not go up them and not be able to get down or, worse, falls down. 

Every dogs sets their own pace and Dutch will also.  At least he only weighs 60 pounds.  Bonnie started out at 83 and is now down to 70.  It is a lot to pick up but it seems we are superhumans when we need to be.  Best of luck and our prayers are with you. 


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