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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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what to expect after amputation
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
18 November 2019
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18 November 2019 - 4:03 pm
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My name is Lisa and on Thursday I am scheduled to have one of my sweet baby girls front legs amputated because of a soft tissue sarcoma the size of a baseball on her elbow.  I tried to everything to treat the sarcoma but I have failed and now her leg is so swollen and I have been in tears because of trying to save her leg to no avail.  She is 10 and is a medium sized dog at 43 lbs.  I did not want to have her put down because of her happy demeanor and her activity level is so high.  Of course lately she is in so much pain despite the pain pills and cbd oil :-(.  I do not want her unhappy and I am so scared she will look at me different.  I hate this and I am a nervous wreck and I am freaking out.  I just want her healthy and happy.  I am lucky that my husband is not fighting me on this.  I just do not know what to expect and I am a blubbering idiot trying to focus at work :-(.  If anyone has any words of wisdom please let me know.


Squirrels momma

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 27267
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25 April 2007
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18 November 2019 - 5:25 pm
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Hi Lisa and Squirrel, welcome. This is the club nopawdy wants to join but you are in good company. Most of us here had to make that same decision and know exactly how you feel. It’s not easy to make it, but trust me, when Squirrel wakes up without that missing leg she is going to be SO happy that the terrible pain is gone! 

The best advice people give here is: Remember that you’re not doing this to her, you’re doing this for her. Getting rid of that awful tumorous leg is a gift that will provide a greatly improved quality of life. You will be amazed.

First things first though: check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and our What to Expect articles to get a feel for what’s ahead. I promise it’s not as bad as you think. 

And one last bit of advice: remember that you need to be strong. You will set the tone for recovery. If you project pawsitivity and optimism, Squirrel will give that right back to you.

Stay tuned for more help from the community. Ask as many questions as you’d like OK? We are here for you.

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Rock Hill, SC
Forum Posts: 875
Member Since:
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18 November 2019 - 7:03 pm
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Hi Lisa. She won’t look at you different at all!  Dogs are so different than humans in that they don’t grieve the loss of a limb like we do. They don’t have the vanity issues that we do, or the sense of loss. They really do live in the moment and all she will care about is that the pain is gone.  Zeus actually seemed SO much happier the day we picked him up from the vet after his amp. You could actually see the relief. He was also an older dog at 10.5 yrs, medium size, and had a front leg amp. 

Also, let go of the guilt!  You have done everything you can for her and unfortunately there are just limitations on our ability to treat and cure. You are doing the very best you can with the resources available. Maybe one day we will have a cure, but in the meantime all that your girl cares about is that you are there to pet and kiss her. It really is that simple for them.

Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...

new hampshire
Forum Posts: 249
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26 June 2019
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18 November 2019 - 8:08 pm
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Hi lisa and squirrel,

First off big hug! I know its rough right now and your blaming your self but it will get better!  It sounds like squirrel still has alot of living to do and once that painful leg is gone she will thank you.  Dogs adjust so much better than us silly humans! Once shes had some rest and a little time to heal her sparkle will come back and she will be happy and doing all the things she use to.

Deep breath and remember your doing this out of love. Squirrel will follow your lead so if your strong she will be too. In the mean time we’re here for advice and support if you need it.


Bev, Moe cat, autumn angel Roane & angel dog Gypsy 

         Hugs ❤ Bev, nurse Moe cat, Autumn's Angel Roane & Angel dog Gypsy 🐾

My sweet soulmate Roane was diagnosed with osteo in June of 2019. Had a rear leg amp on July 2nd & crossed the rainbow bridge to be with her sister Gypsy on the first day of Autumn Sept 23 2019.

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18 November 2019 - 8:27 pm
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His Lisa and squirrel

hugs to you both. Eva, our Aussie, is one week past her left rear leg amputation. She also had a sarcoma develop and lori and I had to make that hard call that you are making. I just wanted to let you know that it will be ok. We read all the blogs and post as support over the past weeks and are hard as the decision was to make, everyday Eva is better and better and it is nice to see her out of that consistent pain she was in. Each day past the surgery we see more and more of her happy face return. As hard as it is, taking away the pain will mean so much. Keep you heart full of love and know that your not alone. 

eva says to tell squirrel woof woof woof woof (which I think means you are a badass you got this. Hugs and paws)


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18 November 2019 - 9:06 pm
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As you can see from all the supportive  replies from Jerry, Lisa (Zeus’s mom❤), Bev and Roanne  and Eva, you are DEFINITELY  surrounded by people who understand  all the emotions you are going through.  The fear, the uncertainty, the non stop second guessing, the sleep deprivation, the crying, the nervous stomach and yeah, the blubbering,  And we also know how relieved  you will be when you see how happy Squirrel  is once recovery  is over and her sparkle comes back bigger and brighter than before!!

I’m  really glad you found us though, because  we are throwing  you a lifeline and pulling you safely to shore, okay???   We are here to answer any questions and to walk you through  recovery and move you forward to celebrating  all the qreat victories  Squirrel will have once that bum leg is gone!

Will Squirrel be staying at an overnight  fully staffed clinic?  Most dogs spend the first night there, sometimes a second or even third.  Dogs are so stoic and resilient,  it’s  hard to remember  this is MAJOR surgery, but generally  an overnight stay is a good idea.  

Every dog is different,  every recovery  is different.  Some dogs like Zeus, start showing signs of getting their sparkle back right after surgery.  Some dogs, like my Happy Hannah, was restless and whiny  and barely slept the first seceral nights.   At the time, I had not found  this wonderful  Tripawds Family and had no clue what to expect, what was normal, what wasn’t,  suggestions for good pain. management, using non slip rugs for traction on hardwoods

Some dogs eat right away, some are off food a bit because  of the pain meds, antibiotics,  etc.  Some don’t  poop for several days for same reason.  Drinking  and peeing are important though.

When you do go to  pick her up, don’t  even bother to look at her incision.  She just wants to see you look into  her eyes  smiling  and telling  her what a good girl she is and she’s  going home!!

STAY CONNECTED  and let us know how we can help.  You are not alone in this joirney.  We are right by your side the whole way!


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!

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