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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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Slooooooow recovery- I need encouragement desparately!!
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Leicester, NY
Member Since:
23 August 2010
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11 September 2010 - 8:40 am
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12 yr old dalmatian Daisy was hit on Aug 11 and underwent surgery to repair her rear leg. Rear left leg amputated on Aug 18 due to gangrene. Colon started bleeding on Aug 31 due to all the antibiotics (killed off the good bacteria in her system). Finally got that under control. She can hop around short distances once I help her up but she has not been able to get up on her own yet. She will bark when she wants to go out but I still have to support her while she is peeing and poopin. She doesn't seem to be in pain but its hard to tell because through all of this ordeal she has not made so much as a whimper.  

Next week will be her 1 month ampuversary. Due to the cost of the 2 surgeries I cannot afford professional PT. I am just trying to get her up and moving as much as possible, trying to get her to stay "up" for little longer distances/time and trying to remain optimistic.

She has never played with toys since we adopted her 2 years ago and could care less about treats so its been so hard to get her motivated to move.

Has anyone else had a dog that has taken a this long to be able to get up on their own?

Any suggestions?



Daisy earned her wings on Oct 22, 2011 at 14 years old

She is now the official greeter at the rainbow bridge

Everyone is guaranteed a welcome sniff and Dalmatian smile

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30 July 2010
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11 September 2010 - 9:07 am
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Every tripawd is slightly different. Some take to the 3 legs right away, others take more time. Tripawds in general don't need "long" walks because they have to work so much harder than their 4 legged counterparts. 1-2 mi at the most or 1-2 10-15min walks is usually sufficient.

Even though Daisy doesn't seem to want to go on long walks, there are many other things to keep them occupied and to get a work out! For tripawds it is great to do core training like with a buja board (type of balance board), a rubber mat (also for balance), and even practicing commands like "sit", "down", "stand" for strength training.  My dog also doesn't like "treats" but if you give her the right incentive, she will do what you ask. Such incentives include plain baked chicken and cheese. I do not recommend using cheese all the time since it is really fattening, but rather as a "Jack pot" award for something really good they did when you are working with them.

Daisy sounds like she is doing fine and like I said, every dog handles amputation differently. She is older so maybe she has some arthritis? 

-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

11 September 2010 - 10:12 am
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Hi Daisy's folks,

I only have a second this morning- but I wanted say something...

My pug Maggie took a long time to adapt- she was little, and could get up and walk on her own the day of surgery.  But she was really easily discouraged, and I had to do a lot of coaxing to get her going the first few weeks, and even couple of months.   But then Maggie was never a very adaptable dog- so it made sense that she took her time to get back to herself.  She was eventually walking up to a mile on her own (remember- short pug legs!) but it took several months to get that far.

If you are pretty sure that there are no other health issues holding her back what about taking her somewhere she liked to go?  Even a short car ride if she liked that before.  Maybe new smells at a park or even just another yard will interest her.  Also- seeing someone else she likes might perk her up a bit.

Maggie went through a 'please carry me' phase.  My  parents had made a habit of picking her up too much- so she would just sit and wait for a ride instead of coming back in the house on her own.  I had several stand offs with her- leaving her in the back yard (I did peek at her to make sure she was OK) until she decided she really wanted to come in. Once she figured out that I would not carry her she got over it and went in and out on her own.

Hang in there-

Karen and the pugapalooza

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1 January 2010
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11 September 2010 - 12:02 pm
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Holly was able to get up and about pretty quickly, but there are still things she can't (or won't) do.  She will wait for me to carry her upstairs to go to bed, which I thought was because the stairs were to much for her.  But over the summer she became motivated a few times (I can't remember the reason now!) and hopped up the stairs like it was no big deal!  Of course, when it was time for bed she still just waits for me to carry her up.  So I agree with Karen - sometimes they get used to us doing things for them and decide they like it that way.  I'm not sure how you can figure out whether that's part of Daisy's delay - maybe she likes your help?  She's also still less than a month since her amputation - it may just be she needs time to adapt?  Have you talked to your vet about it?  

Holly also doesn't whimper when something hurts - it's harder to tell with her whether she's avoiding something hoping that someone will do it for her, or whether she just can't do something. Spirit Cherry's dad, Bob, always reminds us to make sure to feed the dog's spirit by including what the dog has always loved best - Cherry (and Holly, too!) loved car rides so he would take her for car rides.  Holly loves walks, so even when she was healing we would walk just a few feet down the street so she could enjoy being on a walk, albeit a short one.  Those little things they love really can help a ton!  What is it that Daisy loves best - can you use that to help her to want to get up?

I hope Daisy figures out how to get up on her own soon, for your sake as well as hers!  Please keep us posted.

Sending hugs,

Holly, Zuzu and Susan

Holly joined the world of tripawds on 12/29/2009. She has a big little sister, Zuzu, who idolizes Holly and tries to make all of her toys into tripawds in Holly's honor. And she's enjoying life one hop at a time!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11 September 2010 - 6:56 pm
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Wow, Daisy is such a trooper! We're so glad she came through this as well as she did. That says so much about her strength and fearlessness.

What you have to remember is, don't compare her recovery to others. All dogs heal at different speeds depending on what their general health was before amputation and after. Just the other day we posted about recovery times that pawrents gave in our Tripawds 2010 Amputation and Cancer Care Survey, you may want to check out the post to see the wide ranges of times that pawrents reported.

Don't feel badly about not having PT in your budget, there are LOTS of things you can do at home as Chloe suggested. Also, check out our posts and videos with California Animal Rehabilitation Center to learn how you can help her get strong.

Is Daisy overweight at all? Being overweight can have a serious impact on recovery.

Finally, ask yourself this; could you pawsibly be babying her too much? I hope you don't think I'm rude for asking, it's just that we know how hard it is not to want to do all we can to help our Tripawds after such a difficult surgery, but we have seen some recoveries take longer than they should because pawrents are trying to help too much. See what the docs at CARE have to say about this very common situation and what you can do change it.

We hope this has been helpful to you. Please, if you have more questions, ask away, that's what we're here for, we want to see Daisy getting around on her own too! Keep us posted oK? Thanks for joining.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Monkeybutt-Bunny Vampire
11 September 2010 - 10:53 pm
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Cometdog has retired for the evening.


Sorry about the slow recovery.  Don't feel bad.  If they would just talk, life would be so simple for us.

Hopefully this is just Daisy wanting to be pampered during her recovery.  She's had it ruff!  It does take a while to heal.  Just to give it some time and perhaps like suggested pull back on the helping.   

Comet, my 12 year old 3 legged dog - will go up the stairs for me (if I have a cookie)  but won't go up the stairs if her daddy is home.  She demands to be carried.

Best of luck!  Try not to fret!

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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28 November 2008
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12 September 2010 - 6:30 am
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monkeybutt said:

Comet, my 12 year old 3 legged dog - will go up the stairs for me (if I have a cookie)  but won't go up the stairs if her daddy is home.  She demands to be carried.


Oh how spoiled they can be - and smart too!  She knows daddy can (and will) carry her up the stairs.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Leicester, NY
Member Since:
23 August 2010
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12 September 2010 - 9:22 am
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Thank you all! After reading your posts and referring to the surveys perhaps we have been to fast to help her. All she has to do at 2am is move and let out a little yip and we jump out bed, turn on the lights and see if there is anything we can do to help her.  The other hint may be is when I take her harness off the hook to put it on her she actually likes it.....hmmmm.

I tried leaving her in our yard yesterday and taking our other dawg Sam in the house and boy did she get P.O.'d. She barked and pushed herself up into a sitting position and almost got up. Everytime I attempted that before, dad was around and would run over and help her up. (giving me the bad mom look) So maybe we havent been pushing her enough (or is it babying her too much?)confused

I know she does have bad days when she is either tired or maybe a little sore- she doesnt want to eat and goes into boat anchor mode. These are the days when I hate not to help her. 

I am building a balance board but in the meantime I have also found the kids playground across the street from us quite useful. It has a "swinging bridge" made of interlocking metal plates with a skid proof coating. I placed her in the center and stand on either side of her and gently sway the bridge. She sat down at first but when I pulled her back up to stand she was able to remain upright.

She is not overweight- actually a bit underweight. I have seen turkey drumsticks bigger than her remaining back leg. The vet said feed her whatever she will eat because he does not want her to lose weight. Princess Daisy has been eating chicken breast, pasta, rice and beef for a month. I have been trying to reintroduce the concept of "dog food" back into her diet but so far what doesnt accidently fall into her mouth is left in the bowl.

Baby step forward yesterday: She didnt fall down while peeing.

Thanks again for this website- just being able to vent, discuss, read and hear from other people is keeping my sanity in checkbig-blink 

Julie and Daisy

Daisy earned her wings on Oct 22, 2011 at 14 years old

She is now the official greeter at the rainbow bridge

Everyone is guaranteed a welcome sniff and Dalmatian smile

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13 July 2009
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12 September 2010 - 10:34 am
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Hi Julie and Daisy

Sorry Daisy is dilly-dallying in her recovery, but it sounds like she still enjoys things, like getting outside with her harness.

It sounds like she might just be taking her own sweet time or getting used to being showered with attention, but it could be worthwhile having the vet check her out, e.g., her other hind leg, just to be sure nothing else is going on. But I have a hunch you did this already.

We hope Daisy takes more promising baby steps this week.

Cleveland, OH
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19 June 2010
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12 September 2010 - 3:24 pm
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I'm not able to help much (I don't think).  Denali has never hopped like all the tripawds I see - she does a 'bunny hop' and does ask for help to get around every now and again.  She's a big girl, so I put a sling under her belly to help her get around.


What happened with Denali is we were all set to do chemo (she has bone cancer) and the oncologist saw her and didn't want to operate with her not walking right.  They did multiple x-rays of her spine and her remaining rear leg and couldn't find anything that would stop her from walking right.  The oncologist had Denali meet with an orthopedic vet - the orthopedic vet said she was feeling a lot of arthritic pain even though her arthritis shows in x-rays to be extremely minor.  So he tried adjusting some meds and when that didn't work, he did send me to a holistic vet for PT and pain care.  Denali is on many pain killers: amantadine and tramadol being the 2 persciption based ones and then yucca/alfalfa, traumeel, glucosamine and fish oil for the supplement ones.  Denali's amputation was July 1 - so we are about 2 1/2 months out, and she continues to 'bunny hop'.  I recently got Denali a dog wheelchair to help her out, but she's still getting used to it.


The main point is - sometimes it is just an issue of a slow recovery, while other times there is a legit problem that is making the recovery take longer.

~~~~ Denali ~~~~

June 9, 2010 OSA suspected

June 17, 2010, July 14, 2010 Clear X-rays – no mets

July 1, 2010 Amputation

July 9, 2010 OSA Confirmed

November 23, 2010 Cancer took you from me - Never forgotten, Always Loved - Forever

Supporting the Fighters, Admiring the Survivors, Honoring the Taken, And never, ever giving up Hope

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28 May 2008
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13 September 2010 - 6:42 pm
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Hmmmmmm - great advice given here!!! The only thing that I could possibly add would be to ask if you have considered swimming to help her gain some strength? Maybe she's just lost a little strength? Is Daisy a swimmer? Even if she has never swam - maybe she would like it?? There are doggie pools in Virigina - see if there are any by you and just give it a try.

I know it's soooooooo hard not to rush to their side and every time that Zeus did a face plant, I had to make sure I didn't emphasize it and freak out...I would just say, c''re fine in an upbeat and happy voice. He'd get up and bounce back and start hopping away again. I found and do continue to find that my dogs mirror my emotions, so if I'm upset and are they. If I'm in nap are they. If I'm happy and energetic, so are they....etc....if you're feeling worried and stressed about her recovery, then she might be feeling that way too. 

I agree with someone else said - if they could only talk! But think of their behavoir as a mirror of our own in a way and maybe that will help?

I don't feel like I offered much, but hopefully Daisy will continue to go at her own pace and be back on track very soon. I guess I would also do a follow up with my Vet too to make sure there is nothing else going on medically.

Best wishes and tons of hugs and cheers for Daisy.

Much love,

Heather and Spirit Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

Leicester, NY
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23 August 2010
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14 September 2010 - 11:35 am
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Thank you every one again for all the great tips. I think Daisy read this forum, since my original post she has actually stood up on her own about 4x. Yes, it was because I left her where she plopped down and walked away saying "I'm goin for a ride- who wants to go for a ride". She seems to be gaining strength in her back leg as well as she is not stopping as often to rest. (Or maybe I am not stopping to "let" her rest as often)

Prior to the amputation, the vets a Cornell did a full work up to make sure that her remaining leg was sound, heart was good, bloodwork was normal and declared her a good candidate for amputation so I am pretty sure that there is nothing physically wrong that is holding her back.

I worked a little OT this week so I made an appt for Daisy to see a PT specialist. Its a 50 mile drive each way…ugh. Good thing Daisy loves to ride. I will see if they can evaluate her and set up a program that doesnt involve a second mortgage on my house. They have a water treadmill and heated pool (I have a pool in my backyard but it IS Sept in upstate NY…..50 degrees) I also have a heated indoor pool at the hotel where I work but I think I probably wouldnt have a job if I tried thatbig-blink 

DENALI- have you tried Adequan injections? I started my 13 yr old Dal on it. He was born with severe hip dysplasia in his left hip and developed arthritis in his supporting leg and joints through the years of only using one back leg. It seriously took 5 years off after the initial series of injections. He is able to jump on the couch again, runs after the soccar ball, jumps to catch a tennis ball. He is also on Fish oil and Cosequin/glucosamine but it was the Adequan that really made a difference. 2 shots week for 8 wks then a maintenence shot 1x month.

Daisy earned her wings on Oct 22, 2011 at 14 years old

She is now the official greeter at the rainbow bridge

Everyone is guaranteed a welcome sniff and Dalmatian smile

Pontiac, IL
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13 April 2010
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14 September 2010 - 1:34 pm
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Once a princess, always a princess.  Just ask my pawrentswink

Don't know if I will offer much since others have already touched on a lot but I can let you know my experiences.

My Daddy is a spoiler and would have done everything for me if Mommy would have let him.  I mean feeding me by hand, morsel by morsel - that kind of spoiler.  I was babied along for the first couple of weeks.  But once those staples came out, Mommy said it was time for "tough love."  She's a harda**  surprised

My pawrents started enticing me with all my favorite foods to go up a couple of stairs and then it was rest time.  They did this everyday, making me go up and down more each day.  When I seemed interested in climbing on the furniture again, they would leave treats up there so I would have to try to get up on them.  My Papa would come over to visit and that was a good mood uplifter.  

Most importantly - every time I did something "good" they would get so excited, dance around and give me lots of hugs and kisses.  It was like our own little pawty every time I accomplished something.

You know Daisy the best so spoil her when she needs it but then be a harda** when she needs that.  If you need tips on being a harda** just contact my Mommy - she's an expertbig-grin 

14 September 2010 - 3:05 pm
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Wishing you and Daisy all the best. 


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14 September 2010 - 3:30 pm
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Disclaimer:  I think Ajax had one of the smoothest recoveries of all time, which I attribute primarily to 2 things:  (1) relatively young -- 8 -- and otherwise healthy (not OS); and (2) because he is a city dog, he has basically had regularly scheduled exercise 3 hours a day since birth (because either we go when it's off leash time in the park and have a dog walker during the day, or he'd get no exercise at all).  So I may not be the best person to answer you but here are my $2 (cost of what 2 cents will get you outside of NYC):


I agree with everyone who says definitely check with a vet.  Assuming no answers/problems there, I would say that we will all of course worry about the ideal thing to do - spoil, not spoil, push, not push -- but in the end I think most of us find out that our dogs will tell us.  I've rarely read of a dog on this site who doesn't eventually get moving of his/her own accord, or one who let's his/her owner push them into things he/she doesn't want to do (Fortis' dad - I bet you didn't push too hard at all, if you had, Fortis would have told you).  During Ajax's recovery, we have at times pushed (usually dad) and at times babied (usually mom).  Ultimately, though, Ajax has made the choice.  Some things he has done more quickly and more often than I'd like, such as jump or stand up on hind leg, or resume his favorite bounce while playing tug of war with leash game.  Other things that I wanted him to do - be lifted up on the bed to snuggle me, go up and down stairs - he has resisted firmly until he felt ready.  Probably the best example is his interaction with other dogs.  (pre op, he was mellow with most dogs unless it was a lab or lab-related species who wanted to do a maniac play/wrestle, which he was then up for).  Here's how it went:  (i) we basically tortured him by having the neighbor's dog stay with us the 2nd week he got home.  she is a lab of equal size, same age, and they historically do maniac play.  he would freeze up and get tense and i had to sit in between them for him to relax.  (ii)  when he still had stitches in, he avoided other dogs and even gave a few rumbly warning growls to unneutered males we  passed on the streets.  (iii)  after the stitches came out, he slowly began to approach the smaller dogs, but still avoided dogs his size and larger; (iv) around 6-7 weeks he began greeting and going over to big dogs again, but starting with the older ones and staying away from large bouncy puppies; (8) this week he is finding labs and puppies in the park and wanting to play and jump (which we are still discouraging a little). 

The  moral is:  he totally knew what he needed.  Try not to worry too much!

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