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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Member Since:
4 December 2023
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5 December 2023 - 11:42 am
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Has  anyone gone through osteosarcoma amputation and treatment with a 15 year old dog? My furbaby is a Jack Russel Terrier and is getting her amputation on Thursday and I’m terrified. Hoping I’m making the right decision…

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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5 December 2023 - 4:05 pm
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Hi Jeremy, welcome. So sorry you are going through this. We have many examples of senior dogs who do great on 3! See our Size and Age Matters Forum topic and Tripawds news for a few.



Smaller dogs usually do even better than bigger ones so she should do just fine.

Do you have any questions for us? We want to help you feel better about this!


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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5 December 2023 - 4:26 pm
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We understand the fear all too well.  Whether young, middle aged, senior or super's scary when first faced with amputation. .

Uou've come to the right place for support, information and  understanding. 

As Jerry noted, we have had many "seniors" go thr amputation  and, after recovery, ,they ate back to "normal".  Not saying recovery is easy for the first two weeks-ish, but once past that phase, your pup should do just fine.

Goodness knows, if your pup is like most Jack Russel she's probably quite feisty and young at heart.  Had a friend who has had several Jack Russell's and they were  relative feisty seniors even at 17 and 19 years old!

You'll want non stip  scatter  rugs for tract of you have hardwood or vinyl.  Nothing but short, leashed potty breaks for first two weeks then back in for more rest.

She may take a few days to get her sea legs.  Ho worries...that's  normal, especially f0r the more mature pups.

Drinking and peeing are import but she may jot poop for a few days and may mot be real hungry  at first.

pain management   is very important, especially  after the hospital meds wear off.

Is her surgery  at a 24 /7 staffed clinic and if so, assuming she will be spending  at least one night.

Stay connected and know that we are right by uour side to help navigate  through recovery.  

You ARE doing the right thing.  You are giving her a chance at a pain free quaility life for more spoiling and loving....and that's  all she cares about. 


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:
4 December 2023
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5 December 2023 - 7:08 pm
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Wow! Thank you for your replies. It feels good to know there are people like you out there that are willing to help. I haven’t been able to stop crying the past 4 days since I found out. This dog is my best friend for the past 15 years. My biggest concern right now is her appetite. He appetite has been horrible the past couple of days (I’m assuming because of the pain she’s in). She’s on quite a few important meds and she’s now went from taking pill pockets everyday, to turn her nose up from me hiding her pills in filet mignon!!! She hates the codeine ones the most. The taste horrible to her.

I’m also worried because the vet told me today that she thinks it might be quite aggressive. I’m so worried that my time will be cut so short with her and all I’ll have is her recovery time and I won’t get those happy times with her like I thought I woild. I’m just heartbroken over this.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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12 December 2023 - 9:26 am
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How is Zoey doing overall?

What pain meds is she on, the dose, the frequency  and how mich does she weigh?

Couple of suggestions  to get her to take pills.  They smell the scent of the pill on you hands and in the food  instantly.   So take maybe some cream cheese, roll it into a bal and make a little hole to hide the pill.  HOWECER, use tweezers to pick up the pill and insert it then roll it up.  Don't  touch the pill with your hands.  Also.toss her a couple of balls without  the pill, toss the pill one and rapidly  toss another without.  

As far as eat ng other foods. try some warm rotisserie chicken, maybe some stinky liverwurst, even cheese pizza.  Also try Fresh Pet.  It's in the refrigerator section of dog food.

Keep in mind that Zoey is NOT. a statistics.  Ahe is a tough  Jack Russell!!  Ahe has no intention  of going anywhere but to be right by your side getting spoiled and loved!

Vets  always seem to throw in a worse case scenario  when ot comes to " prognosis ".  We call that "prognosis schmognosis".  Theres also a vest case scenario, but I think Vets just feel like they jave to cover their butts sometimes. 

Ypu jave the fear we all do.....and that's  wanting our dogs to hurry up and get past recovery  ao they can enjoy  pain free quaility  time.  She just had MAJOR surgery and doesnt  feel like herself yet.  Shes trying to adjust to three, recover an handle pain meds too. Alowly but surely you'll  see her spark come back.  When you see that little spark, celebrate  it like crazy!  Every little  improvement  is a huge improvement during recovery!

Stay positive and upbeat and con7.  That's  the kind of energy that helps Zoey heal.

We're  here with you, okay?  Zoey's got this and so do uiu!


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!

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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12 December 2023 - 10:52 am
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Jeremy, we are absolutely here to help. Sally has given you excellent insight on everything. 

Yes, her pain is why she doesn't want to eat, but you can try to encourage her by just feeding her whatever she wants right now. Just don't be upset if she doesn't seem enthused. She will get that appetite back. Oh, and pain meds will do that too, they cause 'inappetence.' Check out these tips to get pets eating after surgery or during chemo. Our giving medication tips are helpful too. You can use them now and then once she's recovering, so study up.

As Sally mentioned, you will always hear the worst case scenario first. Vets have to do this so you aren't set up for unrealistic expectations. With this disease you hope for the best, and take care of the pain as you are doing this week. Every day after that is icing on the cake! 

As a 15 year old smaller pup, she can get around even better than larger dogs! Don't panic about losing the leg, she won't. But just remember she will absorb your emotions so the more positive you are, the more she will respond to that energy.

Have you talked to your vet about her pain management yet? The best recoveries start with good pain control. 

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