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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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Spaz Sent Home With No Pain Meds
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Member Since:
19 October 2016
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31 October 2016 - 7:17 am
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We have wood stairs...not polished wood, but still wood.  I think I will look into something for traction on them.  My good news is that I just called the vet and Spazzie's sutures came out yesterday and I can pick her up and bring her home.  I will be leaving here in about 5 minutes to get her!!

London, UK


Member Since:
15 December 2015
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31 October 2016 - 7:21 am
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Aw that's FANTASTIC NEWS!!! Give her a big hug from me  heart

Meg, Mutt, aged around 13, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


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14 February 2016
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31 October 2016 - 7:53 am
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My Otis did not use the stairs until the start of month 3.   I removed the baby gate , he just looked for a couple of days, and then up he came.   Many dogs do it much sooner, and smaller dogs might have an easier time than 100 pound Otis.  If he seems to be getting around well once you bring him home, I would consider opening them up and seeing what he does.   You can also assist with a harness - we loved the Ruffwear Webmaster Plus harness (see the gear blog).   The key though is to not let him over do it.   I would say once up for bed, once down in the morning, and then block them off for the rest of the day (at least while he is still developing a strong core).

Can't help you on the car.   Otis was the best dog, and laid down on the back seat almost immediately. 

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Los Angeles, CA
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13 June 2013
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31 October 2016 - 9:44 am
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Spaz is adorable!!! That face is definitely kissable!!!! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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31 October 2016 - 11:53 am
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Yay for Spaz' homecoming! What a great way to start the week.

To answer your questions:

How long did it take other tripawds to be comfortable walking and playing on three legs, handling stairs ...and attempting car trips with only one person.  

That depends on the dog: their fitness level, age and how well their recovery was managed. Try not to compare and take your time, there's no rush. You'll need to walk a fine line between being protective and managing her activity so she doesn't overdo it, while allowing her to be a dog and enjoy life the way she knows how. Generally speaking:

  • start with short amounts of activity, 5-10 minutes a session.
  • Tripawds should go on shorter, more frequent walks each day. Start out 5 minutes at a time and build up over the course of several weeks to about a max of 15 minutes each walk (that's the most any Tripawd in typical shape should be walking when they're at their most fit).
  • Emphasize brain games over physical activity.
  • Car rides depend on lots of things. If you feel more comfortable with her seat belted in while you're driving, try using a doggie car restraint little by little to see how she adapts.

I hope this helps! Enjoy your reunion!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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