3 Legged Dog Care, Tripod Dog Care

A tripod dog is a dog with three legs. The loss of a leg can be due to many reasons including cancer, leg trauma (car accident), or congenital deformities (born with a deformity).

I am privileged to share my life with a three legged Siberian Husky, called Shania. She had a congenital deformity called radial head luxation, i.e., the bones on her left front leg were misaligned, and she was unable to put weight on it. This condition is rare, especially for a Siberian Husky, and the cause for it is unclear.

We speculate that it may have been from birth trauma, since she was a c-section puppy. We had hoped to correct the problem with orthopedic surgery, but unfortunately, there was too much cartilage damage in the joint, and the surgeon recommended amputation.

It was a shock when she came home with three legs, and a BIG bandage around her torso. However, Shania recovered quickly from the surgery and is now a happy, bouncy, and somewhat spoiled member of the family.

Here are some things to look out for when living with a three legged dog -

1. Keep a tripod dog slim.

The most common health issue with three legged dogs is that they may develop arthritis earlier than other dogs. Because they are missing a leg, more stress is placed on their remaining joints, and there is more wear and tear. Therefore, it is very important to keep them slim, so that they do not have to deal with additional joint stresses from excess weight.

Feed a three legged dog a healthy and balanced diet, but do not overfeed her.

2. Keep our dog’s foot-pads clean and healthy.


Proper foot care is very important for a three legged dog.

They may develop cracked foot-pads because of the additional weight placed upon each paw. I now apply DermaPaw cream to Shania’s footpads to help keep them protected.

Previously I was using Tuf-Foot by Bonaseptic, but I find that the DermaPaw cream brings better results, is easier to apply, and stays on for much longer than Tuf-Foot. However, Shania will often try to lick the cream up, so I apply it right before she takes a nap (e.g. when we come home from our walk), and I supervise until she settles down.

I also keep Shania’s nails short, and trim the fur at the bottom of her feet. This allows her to walk comfortably, and without slipping.

3. Watch out for Elbow Hygroma.

An Elbow Hygroma is a fluid-filled swelling around the dog’s elbow. It occurs, when the elbow bone causes trauma to the soft tissue around it. This usually happens in younger dogs who are constantly lying down, or falling down on a hard surface. It may also happen when a dog leans, or consistently places too much weight on one elbow.

As a dog matures, a callus will form to protect the elbow and prevent this condition. Dog beds may help, but some dogs prefer to sleep on cooler, hard surfaces.

Young three legged dogs are especially susceptible to elbow hygroma, because their elbow calluses have yet to form, and their activity level is high. Shania developed this condition when she was less than a year old. However, the swelling was small, and our vet advised us to let it heal on its own. In more serious cases, where there is an enormous amount of swelling and/or infection, surgery may be needed.

We now have a cool bed for Shania in her crate. It helps to keep her cool during the summer, and provides her with a nice soft surface to lie on. Remember to regularly clean and air out the water bed, so that mold does not accumulate on its wet undersides.

For outside the house, we use the Coolaroo outdoor dog bed. It is durable, provides a soft surface, and is elevated from the floor. The elevation allows free air-flow during hot days, and prevents water from accumulating during rainy days.

4. Manage slippery surfaces


Make sure that there are not too many slippery surfaces in the house.

Three legged dogs have less balance, and can easily slip on hard surfaces like wood, tile, linoleum, or marble. This is especially true when they are running or playing.

If there are many hard, slippery floors in the house, it may be time to go rug shopping! Rugs also provide a nice, soft surface for a dog to rest on.

I get natural hand-knotted rugs, that can stand more wear and tear from the dogs. Consider getting a light, earth-tone colored rug, that can hide dirt and dog hair more easily.

In addition, I check the backyard, and make sure there are no deep holes. Shania can trip on uneven surfaces and hurt herself. I also clear away large piles of sticks and leaves. Larger sticks may sometimes catch on a dog’s nails and cause damage.

It helps to get raised water bowls, so that our tripod dog can drink without having to bend down too much.

5. Let a 3 legged dog be a dog

When we share our life with a tripod dog, we naturally want to protect her from as many things as possible. It is important, though, to let a dog be a dog.

If a three legged dog is kept from doing all the things that dogs love to do, she will have lived an unfulfilled life.

A life lived in fear is a life half lived” ~ [Spanish proverb]

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Comments

  1. Lauren says

    I have a Siberian husky that is missing his front leg. He has so much energy and am having trouble keeping up with him. I walk him twice a day but need a way to burn more of his energy. I got a back pack for him but am worried that will put too much strain on his good front shoulder. Would carting be a good option?

    • shibashake says

      Personally, I would stay away from backpacks. One of the key things that the specialist told me is to keep Shania slim so that she does not put added stress on her joints. For this reason, I also stay away from other weight related activities, i.e., anything that would put added stress on her joints. This will hopefully keep athritis at bay for longer.

      With Shania, we are out for two hours or more every day. She is not walking the entire time, a bunch of the time she is resting, looking at people, and enjoying the outside smells. She also plays with my other dogs, under close supervision. She works for her food, and I play structured games with her.

      Swimming, I think, is a good exercise possibility as long as they like water, are properly taught to walk in (*no* jumping in), and are kept safe with a doggy life vest.
      http://tripawds.com/2009/09/18/swim-your-tripawd-to-better-health/

      Shania doesn’t like water though, so we haven’t done much of that.

      Also check out the tripawds.com forum. They have a wonderful, supportive group of people there, who will probably have many fun exercise ideas.

  2. Shelby says

    i’m really hoping for a dog for my birthday! I’ve found an adorable Westy girl and I want her terribly. the only thing is that she is missing her left hind leg! besides things stated above, is there anything else I should know? the fact that she’s missing a limb doesn’t change a thing about her in my eyes, but should I be aware of any other details?

  3. Crystal says

    My Max is my 8 or 9 year old Boxer. I got him as a rescue about 6 years ago. He has been a blessing from day one and I love him with all my heart. Last year he had a large mass pop up on his front leg. The vet said we won’t worry about it we will just watch it and if it gets bigger we will remove it. Well about 3 months ago it started growing rapidly. He aspirated it and said it’s likely benign so we shouldn’t worry. Well that just didn’t settle right with me. So now on vet #3 she is non profit and said we need to amputate immediately as she believe it’s malignit mass cell tumor. I am horrified if ever I thought this could have been I would have moved much sooner. The vet said to amputate the sooner the better. So he is set up to have it done in 2 weeks. I feel god awful guilty I never thought this would be his outcome and I could beat that vet into oblivion!! I am just worried my Max won’t adjust

    • shibashake says

      Hello Crystal. Have you been to the tripawds.com website? They have a lot of information there on recovering from amputation due to cancer. They also have a strong support group and many people there have experience with canine cancer.

      I was also worried about Shania, but she adjusted very well. I think dogs are really amazing in terms of how they deal with physical disability.

      If you have the time, please let us know how things go with Max. He sounds like a wonderful boy. Big hugs to him and Shania sends her love and many Husky kisses.

  4. lake says

    Hi! Wondering if you can give me some advice. My tripawd chihuahua mix has his back right leg amputated but he has developed a rash on his leg/belly on his left. I took him to the vet and they gave him a spray for a bug bite. The rash went away and now it’s back and won’t go away. His belly also kinda sags on that side now. Any advice? Taking him back to the vet tomorrow.

    • shibashake says

      How did things go with the vet?

      As for sagging, Shania has some of that in her front area because the muscles there are no longer being used, due to her missing front leg. When in doubt though, I always consult with my vet.

      Big hugs to your Chi. Hope he is feeling better.

  5. brandy says

    I just thought id tell you about Trooper my 2 year old German shepherd. when he was a puppy his family got in a car accident and they had to amputate his right front leg from the shoulder. soon after he got distemper and people thought he should be put down but he never got the seizures so they didn’t. its been a year now and he is doing great. goes on runs and up to the mountains all the time with us. he has a little nuerological damage such as his mouth twitching a lot but he doesn’t notice. we adopted him about a week or 2 ago and I jus wanted to put his story out there. don’t give up so easily.

  6. will says

    hi i really love this site it has given me lots of help with training my 12 yr old sibe nooka.go sibes they are the best

  7. Danielle says

    My dog broke her leg by jumping off the stairs. I wasn’t watching when she jumped. I’m not sure how high she jumped. She broke it. Causing it to only get a pin. Well the vet was in the middle of surgery and called me and said the one bone was split into 3 like a Mercedes Benz emblem and said it would be a 50/50 Chance that if she went to see a specialist to fix it she would either be in pain or it wouldn’t hold. Well it was amputated. She’s doin good. But people keep telling me it’s wrong to keep her and that it’s mean and that I should just put her down. Tell me am I wrong?

    • shibashake says

      I currently have three dogs, but I am closest to Shania. I do have to supervise her more though, and take some extra precautions to keep her safe. I write more about my experiences with Shania here-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-amputation-siberian-husky-shania

      There are also many great three legged dog stories in the comments section of this article. The tripawds.com site is also a great place to talk to others about their experiences. In the end though, it is our choice and our responsibility.

    • Cheryl C. says

      Why would anyone want to put a dog down because of a broken leg? You did the right thing!! My 9 year old Yellow Lab Yeager was hit by a BIG truck on 4/10/14. His left rear leg was so bad it needed amputation. His right rear hip had to have surgery also because it was dislocated and would not stay in place. He has to be confined to small areas and guided with a sling for 2 more weeks but he is doing AWESOME!!!! =)

    • Roxanne says

      Oh my goodness there is no need to put your dog down. These 3 Legged Sweethearts have the biggest hearts and try so hard!! I have a 3 Legged Blue Heeler named Flower. She has just turned 12 Years Old. We have had our challenges along the way but you just deal with whatever comes your way. I can’t imagine life without her. We have had to build a ramp for her to go up and down into the yard. In the winter we have covers so it stays dry for her, works pretty good. Flower just loves the snow!! But am glad to see Summer approaching. Some people don’t understand that these dogs are just like other dogs with 4 legs, they may look different but they are so worth it!! Just love her and care for her the best you can and don’t ever feel bad for doing so!!

    • brandy says

      they are the wrong ones. if he’s able to move around just fine and isn’t in pain anymore than you did the right thing. I have a German shepherd that survived amputation of his front right leg and also distemper which is usually fatal but he never got the seizures. it been a little more than a year now and he’s a playful little puppy. good job with sticking to you decision.

  8. Ronna says

    I just found this blog/site as I was looking for information on Tripods dogs ( we just rescued a tripod pit bull about 1 yr old and my daughter- no longer at home- has a Shiba) We had the opportunity to adopt a healthy, friendly, cuddly hound retriever mix but my 17 year old son fell for Kimmie the tripod. He felt the puppy would be adopted easily and Kimmie would not. With some apprehension we dove in as i agreed with his assessment. Kimmie is a sweet, smart, gentle soul that was picked up in Georgia with an injury to her left foot. Almost 3 months later they took her entire leg front leg leaving only a chicken wing shoulder. She had Kennel cough and whip worms. A lot for a little one. We noticed that she is very stiff in the mornings or after laying down and sleeping. We have only had her 4 days and we have been massaging all of her muscles, clearing all obstacles, chipping ice on the driveway, what ever it takes to keep her safe. This morning she did her little hop out of her bed to wake up and face planted. She must have sprained her right front wrist. We iced it, called the vet ( they can’t see us till tomorrow morning and we have yet another snow storm coming- I hope they will be open!) She has not been able to walk on it only a little pressure sitting for a second or two but she has been laying down all day with my son. She has not gone potty all day. She also has not wanted water. I searched and searched for any help on line for how to assist a dog with a missing front leg and now a hurt front leg. Until we get to see the vet any help would be appreciated. We anticipated slipping on ice and so many other things, we did not anticipate waking up and stepping out of her doggy bed to be the source of injury to her remaining front leg. How can we help this sweet little one that has captured our heart?
    Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Has Kimmie been to the vet? How is she?

      When Shania is recovering from sprains and such, I usually try to keep her resting as much as I can. I set up an enclosure on a nice thick carpet, so that she can’t roam around too much. During her surgery period, she had difficulty walking, so I switched back to using pee pads. I make sure to clean it up as soon as she goes.

      There was another time when she got bitten by a rattlesnake and couldn’t get up easily. We had her staying at the pet hospital then. They put a bunch of towels and such under her and let her do her business in place until she got better.

      Does Kimmie’s bed have a lip? I only get totally flat beds for Shania because she can trip on those edges. I also do not let her go up raised surfaces or furniture. Now that she is older, we installed a baby gate at the foot of the stairs so she won’t stress her joints from going up and down.

      Big hugs to Kimmie. Please let us know how things went at the vet if you can.

    • Ronna says

      Thanks for the reply. She did sprain her right front wrist- they gave her a shot of pain meds and anti-inflammatory drugs and some to go home. Since she just had her surgery on 12/21/13 they said she is still trying to get used to moving on one leg. Late last night she did manage to get up and hobble on it. Enough to go outside and go potty. I did try to leave towels and a plastic liner hoping she would just go when she needed to but she held it in for 2 days. Poor little thing. Too many new situations for her I think. I gave her a bone that had some frozen yogurt in it and it seemed to pick her up but this morning she had diarrhea and some blood as well. Don’t know if it was stress, meds, holding it, yogurt or a mix of all. She is being treated for whip worms too. She came as a mess to us- broken- missing teeth even. Yet through it all in the 5 days since we had her she has been loving, patient and lets us do anything to try to help her.

      We did get a bed with side thinking ( but the front is open) it would help support her but it has a removable flat bed. Even still I see her front leg wobble on that as she tries to stand so I am not sure how to help her have a soft place to lay down and not get hurt.

      I found a place about 40 mins away that has an under water treadmill as therapy for dogs. Have you ever tried that. I am wondering if it would actually help her build strength in her other legs while keeping stress down. Part of me wishes they kept her in a warmer climate. We have so much snow and ice and I know our 4 legged dog friends have troubles. This 3 legged dog is really in for a challenge.

      We haven’t had a dog in a while and we just hope we can do all that we can for her. I have been rally your posts and they are very encouraging- thank you.

    • shibashake says

      I am glad that Kimmie is feeling better. It is really awesome that she has found such a loving and caring family. That is the most important thing for the long term.

      In terms of beds, Shania seems to prefer lying on the carpets. She also uses the elevated outdoor bed when she is outside. We did get her a cool bed for her crate (for the hot summer months). It is very flat though, and does not have too much water, so she seems to have ok footing on it.

      We have not done water therapy. The specialist who took care of Shania, when she was young, said that she didn’t need it at that point. We recently talked to our vet about it, and she said Shania is in good shape, so she didn’t need it yet.

      Our vet did suggest swimming as a good form of exercise, but since Shania is not a fan of water, it is not something that she would like. Vet also talked about fish oil, and that recent studies show that it can help to promote joint health, so we are getting some to try. Correct dosage is important so best to consult with a vet about that.

      Thanks for giving us an update on Kimmie. Ice is a challenge but a good family is so much more important. :D

      Interesting PetFinder article on protecting paws in the winter-
      http://www.petfinder.com/dogs/dog-grooming/winter-dog-paw-care/

      Big hugs to your furry girl.

  9. Samantha says

    Congrats for having so much love for your beautiful husky! She is so cute!
    I also have a husky and guess what, I live in Brazil.. We have hot days around 100 degrees here so I found your website when I was searching about a cool bed for my pet.. They cost 150 dollars here so I needed to ask you if you use the large or the medium size for your husky so I can order mine in the proper size!
    Regards,
    Sammy

    • shibashake says

      We got a medium sized cool bed for Shania. However, just like crate size, this is very dependent on the size of the Husky. Shania is a female, so she is smaller and she weighs about 43 pounds.

      Big hugs to your Husky!

  10. Cheyenne says

    Hi! I’ve recently fallen head over heels in love. He’s got the prettiest brown eyes and the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen! He’s a 2 and a half year old American foxhound. He’s missing his back leg and although I’ve had my entire lifetime a experience with dogs, I’ve never had one missing a limb.

    I lived in the country for the first 19 years of my life and we’ve many dogs pass through our home. We had them to keep the coyotes away from our house. I’ve trained, loved, cried over and bonded with every one that we’ve ever had. I’ve always had a special fondness for labs and three years ago I got my baby beau. I’m moving out in about two weeks and I can’t take Beauller from his home because him and my father are so in love with each other that it would kill them both to take him. I looked at our other dogs but they are all purely outside dogs who wouldn’t be able to cope being all alone or taken out of their home.

    In my search for my perfect pal I stumbled upon Boggs. He’s at a local shelter but like I said, I’ve never had a dog like this. One of our dogs got in a fight with a coon and was half blind, that’s the closest I’ve ever been to a dog with a ‘disability’. Our family has always put our dogs health first( we recently had our 9 year old American Eskimo go through a surgery to remove her femoral head, luckily no amputation was necessary and she’s fully recovered at a hefty price of $1500. She was worth every penny though!)

    Anyway, ( I like to ramble, sorry!) my question is- Do you think I will be able to learn how to take care of him? I don’t want to make some crucial mistake that would cost such a beautiful dog even more than his leg. I’ve been reading for a little over a week on the proper care but I’m still nervous. I’m a college student but the one lesson I’ve learned more than others is that a dog is a part of the family, not an accessory to coo over until the newness wears off. What do you think I should do? Are my fears just silly? And again sorry for rambling!

    • shibashake says

      I don’t think your fears are silly at all. I had very similar fears and worries about caring for my Husky Shania. She is my first three legged dog, so I really did not know what I would have to do, and whether I would be able to do it. I think there are several key things in terms of taking care of a dog with special needs – commitment, time, and money.

      Like you, I fell in love with Shania right away, so I am very committed to her care. She needs some extra supervision, and we go on longer walks because we take more rest breaks in-between. I talk more about the things that I do in the article above and also here. However, I enjoy my time with her so much that these extra “tasks” are relaxing and fun for me. It would probably be different if I did not feel so close to her.

      Another factor is free time. Happily, I am retired, so I have a lot of time to spend with Shania and my other dogs. If I were still working in a demanding job, it may be difficult to make time for all the demands in my life. However, if I had family and good friends nearby, they can also help with dog care when I am away. Alternatively, I could hire a good pet sitter to help me take care of Shania, but that could end up being somewhat expensive.

      Finally, there is the financial aspect. I have probably taken Shania the most times to the vet or animal emergency room, compared to my other dogs. Part of this is because I am very careful about her physical condition, so we sometimes visit the vet when we didn’t need to. It is difficult to gauge these things tho, especially with a three legged dog, and I prefer to err on the side of safety.

      Another part is because she has a smaller margin for error because of her missing leg. For example, my other dogs may sometimes sprain something during play, but they can still easily get around, they heal quickly, and are usually back to full strength in a very short while. It is different for Shania. If she even sprains one of her legs, it becomes difficult for her to move around. In short, I have found that Shania’s vet bills usually end up being higher than that of my other dogs. This will likely also depend on energy level, age of dog, temperament, and more.

      Have you visited the tripawds.com site? They have a great community there, and it is a great place to get more views and information on living with a three legged dog.

      For me, it is a great experience living with Shania and she makes me very happy. I try my best to make her happy too. :D

  11. Katy says

    I have a rottie/shep/lab mix about 60lbs, that had a back leg amputated due to an accident. I fostered Tina from when she came out of the clinic and still have her now! She was ~10 months when the amputation was done and has just turned 9 years old. She is a stocky build and it has been challenging keeping her as slim as possible. She is a high energy dog so gets a lot of exercise daily.
    As she has aged, some issues have arisen which I am trying to deal with. She has received glucosamine/chondroiten/MSM supplements for several years. For the past year she has received monthly injections of Adequan which have helped slow the arthritic deterioration in her joints. She began suffering from muscle spasms about 18 months ago in her back (limiting leash walking has helped this now), so she now gets 1x Robaxin (just the muscle relaxant, not with the pain killer) daily. She is a strong swimmer and goes to hydrotherapy once a week but also swims daily in the rivers and lakes on our walks. I took a dog massaging workshop and massage her every day.
    Walking on a leash is the most damaging/painful thing for her so I really limit this as much as possible. Almost all her exercise is, and has been for the last 1 1/2 years, off leash. I wish I had started all these things right at the beginning but she really didn’t seem to have any problems at all and behaved just like any other dog and was just as capable. She sliced a front pad badly when camping a few years ago and, as it was the same side as her missing back leg, I thought it would be trouble, but she just leaned a little more to the left and zoomed off on two legs, as fast as before, didn’t miss a beat.
    To ensure she has as good a quality of life as possible I have ensured she is well socialized and I don’t stop her chasing squirrels and running around, I just monitor the duration of this type of exercise. I adjust our walks so she has easy terrain (river dykes, for example) for a couple of days after a more strenuous or longer walk. I think fitness is key, keeping the dog as slim as possible, swimming as much as possible and protective measures for joint health. No ball or stick throwing on land, only into water. I keep non-slip socks (bought at a pet store) at my friends house for when we visit as she has very slippery hardwood floors and no mats – quick and easy to put on and take off.
    Tina is now in better shape than she was 18 months ago and is healthy, happy and still loving life and has very little pain or discomfort. I know this cannot possibly continue forever and I would urge other owners of three-legged dogs to start preventative treatments before I did. I feel I was not proactive enough (apart from the keeping slim and fit aspects) and wish I had stopped leash walking sooner and started hydrotherapy earlier. This last does seem to offer more benefit than just swimming in the river.
    I hope the experiences of Tina and myself will help others to enjoy a long, pain free relationship.

  12. trdoxie says

    Most of these stories are about small to medium sized dogs can anyone tell me if a giant breed like a Great Dane is able to cope having only three legs? My daughter is looking to get a puppy from a breeder in the area and we just learned today that the puppies were born last night and that one of the largest puppies has a malformed right front leg. The breeder is trying to decide whether to put the puppy down or not. I feel like the puppy should be given a chance if it is healthy other than the unusable leg. I need to know if this puppy as a one day giant will have a chance at a fairly normal life or will her size drastically shorten her mobility. If anyone has experience with a large breed tripod, I would much appreciate any information you can give me.

  13. Crystal S says

    I am considering adopting a 12 wk old Husky who’s only had 3 legs since birth. She was born to a family pet, instead of a breeder. No one was home when mom went into labor and the first puppy was breech – mom chewed the back left foot off to get her out. Since she has always been without the 4th leg it’s normal to her, and from what I’ve read it seems “better” that it is a rear leg instead of a front leg. Your article is informative and gave me some info on keeping her healthy, thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Thank you Crystal. Yeah, as I understand it dogs carry more weight on the front of their body, so there is less stress if the missing leg is in the rear.

      Have you decided on the adoption? Big hugs to little Husky puppy. :D

  14. Corrine says

    Hi, I have a husky puppy called nala. Shes 15weeks and I have just found out after xrays her front right elbow joint hasnt formed properly. They have said we could if we’re lucky make a new joint for her but theres life long problems with that. Or amputation of the leg. Im really stuck as what to do. Alot of people are telling me it’s horrible to make such a young dog go through all this but at the same time I couldnt see myself without her x

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I struggled with the same things with Shania. It was a very difficult time, and hearing your story brings back a lot of memories. People also said the same thing to me – “it’s horrible to make such a young dog go through all this”. I never really understood what point they were trying to make, because wouldn’t the alternatives be worse?!

      Here is more on what happened with Shania.

      I am very glad that I get to share my life with Shania. She is wonderful and we have great fun together. As you say, I cannot imagine being without her.

      Big hugs to Nala. Please let us know how it goes. Shania sends her love and many Husky licks.

    • Samantha Kruis says

      I have a 8 month old schnauzer poodle, who at 5 1/2 months broke her leg. We took her to a vet and they splinted it the leg healed but she had a pressure wound that developed into bone infection which also healed, then we noticed she couldn’t bend the same elbow without a lot of pain , so we took her to a specialist in Ottawa who said we could do corrective surgery or amputate. We chose amputate for 1 main reason , she would be healed in 10-14 days and acting like a happy dog within 3 days compared to corrective surgery which would take months and several surgeries due to the fact that she is still growing adjustment would probably have to be done which meant more surgeries. It’s now been three days since her amputation and she’s playing with toys and chasing the cats as usual, she does sleep a little more due to the pain killers but that’s normal and she’ll only be on them for3 more days.

  15. Laura says

    Hi, my dog Hope is missing her front right leg. She was hit by a car before I met her. I adopted her in 2009 and I couldn’t picture my life without her now.

    Recently though, she’s been in a lot of pain. It’s usually at night. She’s up all night panting and crying and refuses to sit still. I’ve taken her to the vet numerous times and he just keeps giving me pain meds, steroids, and muscle relaxers for her. The meds work for about a week or two then were right back to where we started. Tonight is actually the worst that it has been, so I’m waiting for the vet to open so I can get her in again.

    My next step is getting blood work and X-rays done but I am in college so money is tight (don’t get me wrong, I would spend my last dime on her in heartbeat) I just want to know that I’m taking the correct route. Everytime I’ve been in before my vet had said to wait on it but I’m really starting to be concerned.

    Tonight I gave her baby aspirin to see if she could get any sleep and it doesn’t seem to be working. Do you think things like therapy or the swimming programs would be useful? Or even a set of wheels? I’m open for any suggestions – I just need to get my poor dog out of pain. Thanks

    • shibashake says

      With Shania, going to see a specialist was very helpful in terms of diagnosing the issue with her leg. The bone specialist explained the issue to us, showed us the problem on the x-rays, and laid out possible solutions. If Shania started feeling leg pain again, I would go to see a specialist first, to see if they can pinpoint the cause of the pain.

      Big hugs to Hope. Please let us know how it goes.

  16. brandy says

    I have a shep/lab/rott mix that lost his leg at the elbow from having the ambilical cord wrapped around it before he was born. He seems to get around great but my worry is he uses his stub for balance and has a sore on it. I was told to use a baby sock but I cannot keep it on him. Anyone have any other ideas and has anyone delt with this before?

  17. Anonymous says

    I found 9 pups nearby our house, all adopted except a seriously injured one. The Vet suggested to put the pup to sleep as it has only 50/50 chance.
    But I couldn’t as every living thing deserves a second chance.
    The pup is just merely 2 weeks old and it right rear leg have to be amputated ( to elbow level) as the rest of the leg had been crushed.
    The wound has not heal properly yet as now but it is improving.
    Still on bottle feeding and has opened it eyes as at 2 days ago.
    I would like to know how to protect the amputated leg when the pup starts to walk . Tq

    • shibashake says

      With Shania (front leg amputation), the specialist (bone) recommended that we amputate the entire leg. Shania was a young and active dog, and the vet said that she would move around better this way. He said that if she were to fall on the partial leg, it would be painful and the stub may develop sores.

      I did a bit more reading on this, and it looks like one reason to leave more of the leg would be if we were interested in using a prosthetic. However, as far as I can tell, prosthetic technology for dogs is not as well developed or studied. I think this is because unlike people, dogs can move along quite well after a single leg amputation. I asked the specialist about prosthetics, and he said that in Shania’s case, she would get along better without it. Later on, I would consider the use of a cart or wheelchair if need be.

      One argument that prosthetic sellers make, is that it would help to reduce the amount of stress placed on the joints of the other legs, and in this way, *may* help to put off the onset of arthritis. However, I have not seen any clinical studies on this. I would also be concerned about continuous chafing or pinching at the points of contact.

      In general, I would consult with a trusted vet or specialist in terms of what is best for an individual dog.

      More on prosthetics from the tripawds site-
      http://tripawds.com/2009/10/30/canine-prosthetics-pardon-my-faux-paw/

  18. Amber Brundage says

    Hi, I just adopted a beautiful tripod lab/blue tic
    She is 2 1/2 years old and she is missing her back leg from a car accident when she was a pup. She is a wonderful well trained dog and we haven’t had her long but I was worried about the issue with the weight because she is thick and I didn’t know how I would need to slim her down if anyone had advice

    • shibashake says

      With Shania, I keep her slim by helping her to count calories. :D

      I measure out how much kibble she gets, and I do not give her more. If I give her treats, I make sure to reduce her kibble intake by a corresponding amount. In the beginning, we would weigh her pretty frequently so that we could gauge how much to feed her.

      I take her out for low-impact walks daily. This allows her to burn off some calories, exercises her muscles so that they remain strong, and she also gets to meet people, explore, and enjoy herself. Shania tires more easily, so we take *many* rest stops along the way. I let her set the pace, and bring my iPhone along so that I can read while she rests and looks at people.

      Big hugs to your tripod girl!

  19. keith says

    I have a 3 year old Lakeland terrier called Archie, I year ago he got out of his harness in the back seat of the car, jumped up at the back window, activating the electric window and jumped out at 30mph he suffered a brachial plexus evulsion of his front right leg. It was touch and go for 5 days as to whether he was going to survive, but he pulled through and adapted quite readily to 3 legs. The only thing he cannot do is turn quickly when running. Unfortunately he is a
    little rascal and hyper twice now he has injured his back leg jumping off the bed. Trying to protect his other limbs is paramount in my thoughts. His injured front leg has now contracted up so easily clears the ground when walking/running so amputation was thankfully avoided.I know I may not get him to old age but he does have a good quality of life and thankfully was pain free after 3 weeks after his initial injury.

  20. Kayleigh says

    Ive got a beautiful little tripod girl, she badly broke her front leg when she was only just 6 months and had it amputated as a result – at first I was so worried for her but shes just turned 10 months and im a very proud mummy! She runs and walks better then her older sister and has never had any trouble but i am starting to worry about the pressure shes putting on to her good leg and was wondering if you have any advice on whether to buy a support harness or any other aid? Thanks so much :-)

    • Becky says

      In February 2013, we adopted Maggie, a 3 year-old toy breed mix who’d had a traumatic right front leg amputation in Sept. 2012. My husband (Mike) is a traumatic amputee from Viet Nam so our house already had a ramp off the back deck, non-skid surfaces, and an electric chair for the basement stairs.

      We’ve heard many people say that tripods get along just fine with ordinary care. However, Mike has significant pain secondary to overuse of his elbows, shoulders, and hips from years of using crutches and a wheelchair. While we don’t consider or treat Maggie like a disabled dog, we decided to be very conservative to conserve the use of her remaining limbs.

      Although Maggie can walk and run fast, we consulted a canine rehab specialist over the telephone and plan to see him in the office soon for an at home exercise program (HEP) to strengthen core muscle groups. He recommended maximizing her long-term mobility by limiting walks to 10-15 minutes up to several times a day, depending on weather and tolerance, avoiding stairs, if possible, consistently performing the HEP, and participating in canine aquatic therapy if available in our area. He also reinforced that keeping the weight down was critical to long-term mobility and comfort He did not recommend a wheelchair at this time.

      So, we use an Ezy Dog Convert Harness that does not rotate around the torso or pull on her neck collar while walking. It has a small handle to steady her as she goes up and down stairs. She enjoys playing in the back yard and clearly prefers to use the ramp rather than stairs. We bought a Gen7 Cruiser stroller that is great for longer walks or antiquing. We put her on a chondroitin supplement and are trying to get her accustomed to wearing a sock on her left front leg to protect her paw during walks and snow/ice as she fell several times last winter.

      You might consider consulting a rehab specialist in your area for an individualized treatment plan and/or swimming therapy to gain mobility without stressing other joints.

      We just love this happy little dog and have no regrets about adopting her. The amputation part is minor blip compared to the joy she brings to our lives. She is completing advanced training for the Good Canine Citizenship Test. After that, she will (hopefully) be involved in a local pet therapy program and the Wounded Warrior Project.

    • shibashake says

      I asked the specialist treating Shania about what we could do in terms of long-term care, and he stressed that the most important thing is to keep Shania slim. I also asked him about hydro-therapy, but he said that Shania didn’t need it since her leg muscles are in good shape.

      We currently have Shania on chondroitin/glucosamine supplements based on the advice of our vet. The specialist said that they probably weren’t going to do all that much, but if we follow proper dosage, they wouldn’t hurt. Based on what I have read, it seems that industry funded studies show that they can help with joints and slow the loss of cartilage, but independent studies show no significant difference (for humans). Its results on animals also seem just as inconclusive. So it is one of those things.

      I think weight, environment management, and supervision are probably most important with Shania. I supervise her at home and now that she is older (coming onto 6 years old) I limit her stair access, and plan our walks so that we only come down more gradual inclines. We have a more hilly area in our backyard, which we have fenced off so that we can manage access. She is missing her front leg, so coming down hills/stairs puts more stress on her joints.

      I also supervise her closely when she is with other dogs. She can chase my other dogs in play, but I *do not* let other dogs chase her or jump on her. They can wrestle, but only when the other dog is in a down position. I also manage excitement level during play, and make sure that she is always having fun and not feeling overwhelmed.

      I did use the RuffWear harness while walking Shania soon after her amputation, but she no longer needs it. Here is a bit more on our walking experiences.

      Big hugs to your tripod girl!

  21. Michelle McNiven says

    I wrote in earlier, when I found out my Puggle, Gracie had to have her leg amputated. It was such a hard blow! I am so thankful I found your website and all your helpful hints and encouragement!

    It’s been about 8 weeks. And life is going on basically normal. Everything is okay, and Gracie has been adjusting well.

    To all those who are struggling, please know, it is okay in the end.
    Thanks again for your support and website!
    Michelle McNiven- Montana

    • shibashake says

      Hi Michelle,
      It is awesome that Gracie is doing so well. Thanks for the update and big hugs to your brave little girl!

    • wendy evans says

      i’m waiting on surgery for my yellow lab.He is having his back left leg amputated.I’m very nervious abt. the surgery,and his recovery.It’s reassuring to hear abt. your exp. thank you.

  22. Kristen says

    I also have a tripod. He has my heart wrapped around that one good leg. He is a 26 pound dog, pretty small. My qyestion is should I walk him daily? If so, for how long and what distance? I worry that my dog will get very worn out very fast because it is soooo hot here in Texas. I would love some advice. Thank you for posting all this info, I needed it!

    • shibashake says

      Shania usually likes to go out daily. During her walk-time, she will come to fetch me by placing her head on my lap or my computer keyboard. :D The only times I have noticed her not wanting to go out is when she is not feeling well, or when it is extremely hot outside. If she doesn’t want to go, we don’t go.

      I also let her set the pace and distance of our walks. How long she wants to walk depends on many different things, e.g. her current energy level, the temperature outside, how she is feeling, etc. If she has a rigorous play session in the morning, then she probably will not want to walk as far.

      In addition, Shania heats up more easily, so we do not go very far when it is hot outside. I make sure to walk in areas where there are many shady spots, so that we can take many rest-stops along the way. She likes hanging out outside, looking at people, and smelling the wind. I bring enough water with me to keep her well hydrated. I also bring my iPhone so that I can read while Shania is resting, and so that I can call for help if there is an emergency.

      I also try walking her earlier in the mornings or later in the evenings when it is cooler outside.

      Here is more on my walking adventures with Shania.

      Note that there will be differences depending on breed, energy level, temperament and more. I think the most important thing is to listen to our dog, and let him tell us what he is most comfortable with.

      Big hugs to your Furry One!

  23. Nick says

    Have you noticed whether or not Shania has “phantom” pain from the amputation? I hear about this with people and wonder about pets. I know this can be very painful and difficult.

  24. Sue says

    I’m considering adopting a 3 legged young pit mix (8 or 9 months, medium size) who has a deformed and unusable front leg. Her good front leg looks a bit odd and I’m wonder if it is the elbow hygroma condition mentioned above. I’m also concerned about navigating stairs. What has been the experience of others with dogs missing a front leg?

    • shibashake says

      If her other front leg looks odd, I would get a vet to check it out to make sure that it is ok. I am very careful about Shania’s legs, because if she hurts any of them, it becomes really difficult and painful for her to move around. I supervise her more, manage her environment, and her activities.

      In terms of stairs, Shania can go up stairs really well. Coming down is more difficult and stressful on her joints, because she is missing one of her front legs. The same is true for coming down steeper hills. I make sure that she does not run down stairs or hills at high speeds, because that would be bad for her front-leg joints.

      Now that she is older (over 5 years old), I am starting to limit her stair and hill activity. When we go on walks, we will go up steeper inclines, and come down on the more gradual side. If I think a trail is too steep, then we go another way. We also installed a baby gate on the stairs in our house.

  25. Jon moore says

    Hi. Just reading over some posts and I am very glad to hear 3 legged dog can still live a good life. On Sunday there my girlfriends wee Pom had to get it back leg cut of. The wee dog is still very sick and in a lot of pain. But it’s been good to see that they can recover well. I am just praying that our wee dog recovers too. Thanks

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, Shania adjusted well after her amputation. I supervise her more, take some added precautions with her environment, and she gets along very well. I think I worry more about her than she does about herself! :D

      Big hugs to your Pom. Hope she feels better soon.

  26. Michelle McNiven says

    Thank you for this post. I adopted an adorable 1.5 yr old puggle, Gracie, two years ago, after the owners ran her over (I hope on accident). They took her to the vet and asked to put her down, “She is too energetic, and not worth the hassle.” I was told.

    It’s been two years; we’ve gone through two major surgeries. I just found out yesterday that the last operation, two years ago, was a “none union” meaning the bone never fused together. She has a chronic infection at the implant site.

    She is a total trouble maker, smart little whip, and the sweetest, happiest cuddle bug I have ever had. The options given to me weren’t all that great. Amputation was the best out of the four evil choices. And it breaks my heart and turns my stomach in knots. I cried all day yesterday.

    She goes in for the procedure tomorrow morning. I had no idea how tough and difficult this decision would be. My Supervisor suggested I Google success stories of tripod dogs. I am so thankful to read your story, get some ideas. Deep down I know she will be okay. My puggle, Gracie, basically has been on three legs during the five months we were going through the surgeries to “fix” her. So being three legged won’t be new to her.

    It’s heart wrenching for me. It was comforting to read that my heartache is normal.
    I’ll keep in touch and let you know how we are doing.
    Michelle

    Ps. Sorry, I can’t get the picture to link in or upload.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Michelle,

      Thanks for sharing Gracie’s story with us. How is she doing? Is she back home now? She sounds like an awesome girl and a big time sweetie! She is also young, and smaller dogs have less weight to carry, so they bounce back and adapt pretty quickly.

      Big hugs to Gracie. Shania sends her love and some wet Husky licks.

    • Michelle McNiven says

      Thanks for the reply. Gracie has been home for five days now. She has been very mellow, tired and sedated. Which is VERY strange compared to how she behaved with the other surgeries; however, is good, because she might let herself heal now.

      The amputee sight wasn’t as dramatic as I imagined in my mind. All I knew about amputees was what I saw in the movies. I imagined bloody gauzed bandages, and a stump. They took her shoulder blade as well as her leg. It’s a clean cut site and stitched really well. I haven’t had to deal with any blood, gauzes, or anything. Once the fur grows back, I think it will look really good – all things considered.

      She is beginning to get around better and better every day. The suggestion of rugs for traction I think has been very helpful. I can almost literally see the relief in her face when she is on a rug or traction strip (I laid down those shelf liners for traction strip) vs. plain wood floor. Along with the warning of how people behave when they see her. You are right about the kind of people who are out there. I have found a short version of my story to tell. (Which is great, cause I am so long winded!)

      Everyday is getting better. Every day I am feeling better about the decision. We are adjusting and we will get through it.

      Thanks for all your support. Give Shania cuddles from Gracie and Michelle.
      Thanks again for your site!
      Michelle

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for the update. I am glad that things are going well and improving every day. Big hugs to Gracie. It is good that she has such an awesome mom!

  27. jeff says

    She is a doll. My Barton is a looker, too. He was hit by a truck at high-speed. He was left to die but crawled into the ditch where ice cold water from snow ran over the area he was hit (hips). he was in the Vet’s office within 15 minutes of being found thanks to a dear friend and his son who grabbed an old sprung cot as a strecher and a blanket.

    After three surgeries to save both legs it became obvious one was going to be all I could hope for. After his rear leg was amputated be began chewing his tail. I think it was due to his spine being broken right at the tail. I’ve broken my back 4 times so I know how it can feel. He couldn’t feel his tail. I had to have it removed, too.

    The first four months he was adjusting but after all is said and done he is as happy as ever, rarely shows any sign of pain and is as much a part of my family as I am. I admire him so much!

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for sharing Barton’s story with us. It is amazing how quickly he adjusted to everything. Big hugs to your very brave and awesome boy!

  28. Jalene-Ann says

    Mahalo for the information. My baby girl, Li’i, has a growth on her right elbow which causes her pain and discomfort. Vet said it’s not cancerous but recommended that her arm be removed to help her as “dogs are resilient.” The information you shared is greatly appreciated. Aloha :)

  29. Amber says

    This touched my heart. I know im not the only person with a three-legged bestie, but it’s nice to be able to relate. I have an 8 yr old pom who lost his front right leg at 2 yrs. He runs and jumps off the couches and my bed. It’s amazing. I try to discourage him from doing things that might hurt him, but he’s a trooper. Thanks for making this website :)

    • shibashake says

      He sounds wonderful! Big hugs to your Pom and thanks for sharing his story with us. :D

  30. Allie says

    What a lovely website! I have been thinking about adopting a puppy for a long time and just fell in love with a tripod online through petfinder. She’s 5 months old and I would love to give her a home. I guess I am a little nervous though, with all the care. I have my own health issues and I’m only 20. I think it would be a good fit, but still nervous!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Allie,

      Yeah, I was nervous and worried about Shania as well, after her surgery. I was not sure how well she would adapt and whether I would be able to help her with the transition. Happily, she adapted quite well and very quickly. I was very happy to see her running around playing and exploring in the backyard.

      Shania does require some added care and more supervision, but I am very glad to be part of her life. She is such an awesome girl. I still worry about her, and take special care to keep her safe. Very likely, I fuss over her too much, but she tolerates it with grace. I tell her it is my job to worry about her, and it is her job to be a happy dog. :D

      Is your puppy a larger dog or a small dog? Is she missing a front leg or a back leg? Would love to hear more of her story and hope you will give us an update on what you decide.

  31. Madison says

    Hello! Last year I got a message from a friend saying someone was going to kill this little German shepherd puppy because she was born deformed. So I called the man and told him I would find her a home, little did I know this is going to be my now best friend. When I went to go get her, her deformity was more extensive that he said. She had a left from leg but it was locked in a bent position and only had one nail and was half the size and witch of her other legs. I took her to my vet and he said it had to be amputated. It was a long process but a yr later she is just as fast and full of energy as my other 4 legged dog. She has been the best dog I’ve had and she is so smart. She was recently registered as a service dog and I have plans for her to visit amputee hospitals for kids. I do worry she will have a shorter life do to joint problems or shoulder issues but she has definitely exceeded everyone’s expectations and is such a joy to have.

    • shibashake says

      She was recently registered as a service dog and I have plans for her to visit amputee hospitals for kids.

      That is such a good idea! Big hugs to your wonderful girl.

      You are three times a hero for saving her life, giving her a happy home, and training her to work with kids. Do you have any pictures online? Would love to see your girl.

  32. Kris says

    I just brought my boy, Jack home from the Vets after he left rear leg had to be amputated. He slipped his lead last Friday night and was hit by a car. He seems to be in really good spirits, although tired and in some pain. I did order an orthopedic dog bed for him which I think will help, especially for his healing process. I can’t believe how well he is doing just 3 days after surgery ! I am trying to keep positive and look forward to helping him adjust to all the new ways of doing things.

    • shibashake says

      I can’t believe how well he is doing just 3 days after surgery !

      Yeah, dogs are really amazing. They just get on with living life – they have fun, do all the things that they can do, and don’t worry about all the other stuff. I wish Shania would be more careful, but she thinks she is indestructible! :D

      I am trying to keep positive and look forward to helping him adjust to all the new ways of doing things.

      I think that is a great attitude. The hardest part with Shania was keeping her activity level low until the stitches came out. She was raring to go.

      Big hugs to Jack. Glad to hear that he is recovering so well. He sounds like an awesome boy.

  33. Shane Matthys says

    My dog, Remington, is a lab/greyhound mix and is 8 years old. He has had a cancerous tumor on his left leg that has been rapidly growing over the last couple of months. We took him to our vet today and found out the best possible outcome is to remove his whole leg. The vet assured us that Remington would live happily even after being an amputee. This site has really helped me understand that an amputee pup is still the same old pup. Thank you very much!!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Shane,
      Big hugs to Remington.

      When is he going in for surgery? Let us know how he is doing if you get the time. Shania sends her love and lots of licks.

  34. tiffany Wilson says

    today my poor baby cloe a chiwawa about 3 years of age. a very close member of our family was attacked by a bit pull. anyway the vet is amputating her front left leg tomorrow. witch concerns me of cores. im just hoping that she can become a happy bouncy dog that she was just this smorning.

    • shibashake says

      So sorry to hear about the attack.

      How did the operation go today? She is young and a small dog, so it sounds like she will bounce back quickly. Big hugs to your girl.

  35. Sheila says

    My 12 year old is having his hind leg off as we speak. He broke his leg Sept 1st, 2012 and he had a plate and 7 pin put in. Jan 2,2013 he had to have a bone graph. This past weekend I found out 3 of the 7 screws broke, so we have decide to have the surgery. My husband is not sure we made the right choise but he has been using only 3 legs since the surgery and I have read all the articles on 3 legged dogs, so I know he will just be fine in a couple of weeks. I will have to lok into carpet due to the fact all of the house is hardwood. We made him a ramp instead of the staries outside, which really hepled him be comfortable going out to do what ever and when he pleased. We will do anything we can do for our Buddy so we can enjoy him as long as we can.

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for sharing Buddy’s story with us.

      Is he back home? Hope he is doing well and big hugs.

    • Wendy says

      I hope your Buddy is doing well after his surgery? My 13 year old lab just had his right hind leg amputated. It feels like I am on a roller coaster- one day hopeful, one day pins and needles. If you would be willing to share more about how your old guy made it, I’d sure appreciate the morale boost.

  36. Tish says

    Hey
    I have a three legged dog she is a year old Kelpie, she had her leg off at twelve weeks old after a very bad accident and breaks in seven places. The vet tried to realign and splint but it was never going to happen, being a vet nurse myself I suggested taking the leg off and It doesn’t bother her one bit. She is a working sheep dog in shearing sheds and does a fantastic job, she tires a lot quicker than the other dog and goes and has a swim or a lye down and she’s back working in a flash just needs regular breaks and she knows when she needs them. She is a much loved dog in the sheds and everyone Is blown away with the way she works. Just to be on the safe side and the fact that she is a working dog I have had the remaining front leg x-rayed just to check there is no damage or twisting from her work and all is fine. She is a happy healthy tripod who loves going to work, being sociable, playing with other dogs and being at home with the family.

    • Anonymous says

      it is always great to hear when a dog recovers. Yours was so young when it happened having four-legs now would seem strange to all concerned.

      While a working dog needs a purpose, I would be inclined to keep the tripod on very light duty and eventual “semi-retirement” soon. I realize there are two ways to look at it but my dog has a cruciate ligament torn in his only good rear leg. He shouldn’t be walking but nobody told him.

      It is getting stiffer and very arthritic, though. I need to drop his weight by about 10%.
      Great story…thanks!

  37. Larry says

    Thank you for posting this information. Websites like yours have been comforting and informative beyond what words can describe. Our beloved greyhound Keagen had his hind leg amputated in Sept 2012 after we learned that a leg break was actually caused by cancer. Like most here, we went through the full spectrum of emotion, but the happy ending is that after 4 months of chemotherapy, he is in good health and we hope for similar results during his quarterly checkups. I did want to share one suggestion. Keagen was having a very difficult time walking on our linoleum floor we tried carpets, runners, mats all of which would move causing him to slip. Finally we picked up a package of cork sub floor mats (about 6 per package) and strategically placed them on our floor with doublesided tape. Happy to report Keagen is no longer terrified of running to the backdoor and the look on his face when he realized he would no longer slip was priceless. Thank you again for having a place where people can share their experiences and ideas.

    • shibashake says

      Happy to report Keagen is no longer terrified of running to the backdoor and the look on his face when he realized he would no longer slip was priceless.

      That is awesome! A happy dog is priceless. :D

      I have to try out the cork mats and see how it goes with Shania. She thinks she is indestructible and always leaps first before looking.

      Would love to see some pictures of Keagen. If you have some online, please post us a link. Big hugs!

  38. sarah says

    I just adopted a 3 legged dog. Originally I found him on the side of the road with a serious foot injury, unfortunately the front left leg had to be amputated. Its rainy and wet where I live, and the hardwood floors and front deck have caused a lot of falls. I went and bought dog shoes, ( Brand name Ruffwear), from the local outdoors store. Usually these are meant to put on dogs for long hikes, but Ive tried just putting one shoe on his front foot to help with gripping. Its worked perfectly!!! He was a little worried and confused at first having such a strange thing on his foot, but now he’s hopping all over our wet porch and floors without slipping! If any of you have a dog missing a front leg I want you to know that this is a great solution to slipping! Its probably wise not to leave the shoe on continuously, but on wet days or around the house its been a great solution. It seems dogs are more likely to slip and hit their faces when its a front leg thats missing, the shoe gives him the extra traction he needs now that his balance is off. Im so pleased.

    Thank you for this site, so many of my worries have been addressed here. It made me feel so much better to see your happy healthy dog who’s missing the same exact leg as mine. I was really stressed out specifically about it being a front leg. Thank you so much for taking the time to help all of us on our 3 legged dog adventures!

    • shibashake says

      Thanks Sarah. That is very useful information.

      I did consider getting some shoes for Shania but I wasn’t sure if it would stay on properly. Glad to hear that it works so well with your furry one. I also like the Ruffwear brand, so maybe it is time to give their shoes a try.

      Do you think size of the dog will affect how well the shoes work?

      Big hugs to your furry one and Happy Holidays!

  39. christine reval says

    Hi Sheba Shake!
    May i first say, you may be one of the reasons my little girl, Shasta is alive. After I found her, I was worried about the care and the extra needs of a three-legged dog. You put those fears aside. I now am the proud momma of a three-legged rescue, Shasta.
    I have 2 questions for you though. (Btw, she is missing half of her right-front), so one, does Shiba’s opposite front leg have any issues? Bending inwards or anything?
    Second, (she is a lab/border collie mix about 25 lbs), did Shiba ever experience dogs picking on her? My pup is not even 1 yr yet and has recently been back-to-back attacked by a bull terrier and a pit. The vet thinks it’s because she is missing a leg and therefor is the weaker one.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Love, a new three-legged, proud momma. And by the way, thank you for being the one resource I found that helped aid my decision to rescue a three-legged.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Christine,

      Congratulations on your new furry family member!

      1. Husky Shania also has a missing front leg. Her remaining front leg is bigger and more muscular, because it has to support more weight. She also uses it for digging, holding bones, etc. Luckily, there were no issues with that leg. The surgeon did x-rays of all her legs, and it was only the one leg that had the disconnected bones. I do not notice any inward bending.

      I carefully manage her and protect her, so that we minimize accidental leg sprains and such. I also clip her foot hair so that she has better grip. I check her paw pads often to make sure they are healthy and I try to prevent her from walking on rocky surfaces.

      2. Shania is more vulnerable during play and can get overwhelmed by other dogs. I make sure to only do very small and highly supervised play groups. I have strict rules during playtime and I step in if any dog is getting overwhelmed or being bullied. I also have safe zones, and I throw in many play-breaks to manage excitement levels. I don’t bring Shania to enclosed dog parks because there are too many dogs, and too little supervision.

      It is difficult to say if Shania gets picked on more by other dogs. I think she does — but I am extra protective of Shania, so that may be coloring my perception. Also, she does not have as good balance because of her missing leg, so she may fall more or get overwhelmed more easily, which probably also affects my perception of things.

      Whatever the case, I try to make sure that we don’t get into negative situations. Off-leash neighborhood dogs are sometimes a problem, so I avoid certain houses, especially when they have their garage doors open. We got charged a few times, but luckily, the owners have been good about keeping their dogs secured after they realized that it is dangerous for Shania.

      Where did Shasta get charged? Was it from off-leash dogs? Were the owners there to secure their dogs?

      Happy Holidays and big hugs to Shasta! Shania sends her love and lots of licks.

  40. Haley T. says

    I found your website when i googled ’3-legged dog care’ and this was really helpful! I had to go back and write down all the information though so I wouldn’t forget! Me and my family are adopting a 3-legged black lab mix (she looks like a pure-bred but we haven’t gotten her YET) from North Carolina, and we live 40 mins south-ish of Cincinnati, Ohio, and we have gotten 3 wonderful people to help us get her so the pound wouldn’t euthanize her! Her story is the same as your Husky’s story, but she was also born with no pads on the bottom of her feet (her leg still folds up into her chest though) but she doesn’t know how to walk on 3 legs yet because the pound had kept her and her siblings in such a small cage that they could barely walk, so we are all excited that we were able to save this poor puppy’s life!

  41. says

    Hi! I found your website as I have recently been caring for a dog who had his leg amputated. He looks like a Shiba Inu. I can’t figure out how to post a pic on here but I wanted to see if you thought that he looks like the breed! He resembles your dog Sephy quite a bit! I have appreciated all your tips on caring for a tripod dog thank you! Oh, any pointers on how to post a pic?

    • shibashake says

      Hi Lisa,

      If you have his picture up on your website, feel free to post a link. I would love to have a look. Otherwise, we can hook up on Facebook or through email. Let me know what works best.

      Btw. love the pictures on your site. You are so lucky to have grown up among so many furry friends!

  42. Laura Greene says

    Thank you for the excellent advice. We’re currently fostering a three legged chocolate lab. Your experience will help us tremendously as we care for her and wait for her forever home. (which may be us) She is overweight and had to stay in her crate for 30 days since she had the serious heartworm injections. She is among my family and fur family now. We consider ourselves blessed to have her here and want to help her get her in good health. Her name is “Victory” aka Vicky.

    • shibashake says

      What an awesome name and great story!

      Very big hugs to Vicky. I am so glad she has found a loving and caring family.

      I would love to hear more about Vicky, so please let us know how it goes with her. Also post us some picture links when you have the time. :D

  43. Yara says

    My baby, Mira just shy of 4 months, jumped out of my car at 40mph a few days ago. She doesn’t have any feeling in the leg so the doctor thinks we’re going to have to amputate it.

    Right now the legs in a splint for a broken elbow and to help with possible healing on the off chance the leg will regain feeling. It doesn’t phase her one bit. I came home and she tried to jump all over me hours after leaving the vet. :D She just cries because we won’t let her play with the other dogs right now, doc said bed rest, so bed rest she gets.

    I wanted to thank you for the article it was really helpful. I’m the kind of person who reads about the things that stress her out. It helps me come to terms with it I guess and this was the most helpful article I’ve seen yet. You’re pup is beautiful and I hope he continues to do well. :D

    • shibashake says

      She just cries because we won’t let her play with the other dogs right now

      Yeah, that was also the hardest part with Shania. She was all ready to go and did not understand why she couldn’t play with Sephy. Luckily, she really loves food, so we kept her busy with frozen Kongs.

      I’m the kind of person who reads about the things that stress her out.

      Me too. Helps me put things into perspective and come up with a plan. I am big on plans. :D

      Big hugs to Mira and everyone else in her furry gang!

    • Haley T. says

      i can relate to your dog! i had recently got hip surgery and there’s a part in my leg that i can’t feel anything in that spot. Honestly, in my opinion, if she still USES the leg, i wouldn’t amputate it, i have a dog that was hit by a car when she was a puppy so she limbs on her 3 legs (her back left leg is the one that is injured.) but when she runs or she gets excited, she uses all 4, but the vet she went to when she first got hit told us to just amputate her leg cuz it would just ‘get in the way’….but we found out that it was all just a over-exageration

  44. Amanda says

    Hi.. I have a 3 legged dog( missing front leg) name Russell and was wondering if anyone knows where I can find a harness for him. All the ones found at places like petco are not made for 3 legged dogs… Thanks

    • shibashake says

      Hello Amanda,
      I was using the RuffWear Web Master Harness with Shania when she was younger. It is a heavy-duty harness and worked quite well with her. The only problem was that Shania would often get too hot while wearing it, but may be less of an issue with a shorter coated dog.

      This article has a picture of Shania wearing the harness-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/walking-with-a-3-legged-dog

  45. Jane says

    I luv that u help all those dogs I was wondering since my great Dane got hit by a car my vet told us that amputation would be to harsh on her do u know why (the vet put her to sleep at 10 months)

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jane,

      I am sorry to hear about the accident. In terms of amputation, I can only speculate since I am not a vet and do not know the particulars of the situation.

      What Shania’s doctor told us is that being a three legged dog means that more stress will be placed on the joints of her remaining legs. Dogs carry more of their weight on the front, so missing a front leg (as is the case with Shania) is a bit harder than missing a back leg. Also, larger dogs have to carry more weight, so that will increase joint stress.

      The doctor says that this may cause arthritis and other joint issues when she is older.

      I try to be more careful with Shania in terms of her daily activities, but it is also important that she should enjoy life, enjoy the awesomeness of being a dog, and enjoy being a Siberian Husky.

    • Jane says

      Oh ok I got a new dog tho he’s a dachshund so right now I’m so joy ful thanks so much bye

  46. Katelynn says

    Hi! My name is Katelynn, and today we found out that my 10 month old baby is going to be a Tripawd in two days!! She was my sixteenth birthday present, and the best thing that’s happened in my life!!!! :) Of course all I could do was cry from the vet to home, but after doing a little research, I found your site, and I have to say that your story has made me realize that my little girl will be ok in the long run!! Thank you so much!!!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Katelynn,

      Yeah, I was also destroyed when the bone specialist diagnosed Shania. But she recovered very well and has been bouncy and crazy ever since. :D

      I still worry about her more than I should, but often she would just give me this look as if to say, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

      Big hugs to your little girl! If you have the time, please let us know how things go.

  47. Terrie Fortney says

    Thank you for the info on three legged dogs, I just adopted one he is a doberman has his rear leg amupated, is 5 months old he slipped on the steps coming into the house due to rain, he cryed in pain took to emergency vet they took exrays and has a popped disk put him on pain meds and muscle relaxer then my regular vet put him on a antiflamitory, tody he is kind of dragging that back legacy suggestions taking him to chripractor on Saturday thanks so much

    • shibashake says

      Hello Terrie,
      How is your Dobbie feeling? Sometimes, it takes a while for the leg to heal and be fully weight-bearing again. Shania recently hurt one of her rear legs during play. She was totally out of it and in pain after getting home from the emergency room. She got better after a couple of days, but I kept things really quiet for her for a while.

      Rain is not Shania’s friend either. Now I try to dry her feet when she gets in from the rain. Trimming the hair around her foot pad also helps her get a better grip.

      Big hugs to your little guy. Hope he is feeling better.

  48. Eric says

    I have a three legged coyote mix named Ruby, and I feel that calling her tripod is like calling a person in a wheel chair iron sides. I do not care for it, it is derogatory. That is just our opinion.

    • shibashake says

      I am not sure why calling a dog “three legged” is descriptive but “tripod” is derogatory. As far as I can tell, there are no negative connotations associated with the word “tripod”, nor have I heard anyone use it in a derogatory fashion with respect to dogs. Perhaps, it is just because the word is less common.

      In any case, Shania’s best friends are the people who give her cookies, tummy rubs, and are positive as well as friendly. She puts less weight on the words that people use, and more on their actions and state of mind. She is a clever girl.

    • Anonymous says

      I agree. My dog is going to have his front leg amputated next week. He is 16 months old. He jumped out of a moving jeep at about 30mph. My son was holding the leash and the dog jumped out the side of the jeep and thank goodness the leash broke because who knows how much worse it could have been. I think it is going to be harder for me and my family to deal with then the dog dealing with it. He gets around pretty good now and he has no use of the leg. So he is only using three legs

  49. Shari Haynes says

    Hi
    I’ve been reading your information on owning a tripod dog. The information has been very helpful
    We have been thinking about adopting a 9 month old blue healer/lab. She is a beautiful well mannered girl.
    My concerns on getting her are more long term complications. She lost her leg due to a bad injury.
    As well I have two young children who have fallen in love with her. Do you think she would be harder to care for with children in the home, wanting to play with her all the time?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Shari,
      My tripod, Shania, was very active as a puppy. She did not let her missing leg slow her down, and totally wore out my other dog with her playing. It was difficult for me to keep up with her, and keep her occupied. :D

      I did take special care, especially with slippery surfaces and elevated surfaces. I also made sure that other dogs did not bully her, but overall energy level was not a problem.

      She did have her own enclosure though, that she could go into for some rest. I tried to make sure that she did not overdo things. Still, as I remember it, she tired everyone else out. :D

  50. Norma says

    Hi,

    I have a puppy who was born with 3 legs, missing a front leg. I have been trying to find support information on caring for one. My pup loves to run and play, but he has injured one of his back legs twice already. In fact we are off to the vet shortly. I’m concerned for the long term problems like arthritis, curving of the spine, and injuries since he is just a pup and has a LONG way to go. Is there any advice you can give me that you found helpful with your little guy?

    Thanks,
    Norma

    • shibashake says

      Hello Norma,

      Some of the things that I do with my 3 legged Siberian Husky, Shania -
      1. I give her a Glucosamine tablet every day to help with the joints based on the advice of my vet. Definitely consult with your vet in terms of dosage as it will be dependent on size.
      2. I make sure that my other dogs don’t play too rough with her and I also have a no-getting-on-furniture rule. Jumping off elevated surfaces will be very bad for Shania since she is missing a front leg.
      3. It is better to walk a 3 legged dog on more flat surfaces, but this is not always possible. Getting down hills puts more pressure on their leg joints.

      Here are more of the things that I do with Shania -
      http://shibashake.com/dog/living-with-a-3-legged-dog

      One of the most challenging aspects of living with a 3 legged dog is balancing between happiness and safety. In general, I try to let Shania do all the things that she enjoys but I manage her environment carefully and try to direct her towards lower impact activities.

      Hugs to your puppy. How did the vet visit go?

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