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 that foot. This condition is rare, especially for a Siberian Husky, and we were never able to determine its cause.
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 three legged 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 other legs, and there is more wear and tear on the joints. That is why it is especially 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 a three legged dog’s foot-pads clean and healthy.
Proper foot care is very important for a three legged dog.
Tripod dogs may develop cracked foot-pads because they must support more weight on each leg. 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.
Also make sure to keep a tripod’s nails short, and to 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. Elbow Hygroma occurs when the elbow bone causes trauma to the soft tissue around it. This usually happens in younger dogs who are also 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 with this problem, 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 flow of air 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. Also consider getting a light, earth-tone colored rug, that can hide dirt and dog hair more easily.
Check out all the uneven ground in the backyard, and make sure that there are no deep holes. Three legged dogs can trip on uneven surfaces and hurt themselves. I also clear away large piles of sticks and leaves. Larger sticks may sometimes catch on a dog’s nails and cause damage.
Get some raised water bowls, so that a three legged 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 three legged 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]
I have a three legged dog called Shania. She is an awesome dog, has a great temperament, and enjoys life a lot more than my other dog. However, because three legged dogs are unusual, they attract more people-attention during walks. Dealing with people may be one of the more challenging aspects [...]
Walking with a three legged dog is a bit different, and can sometimes be a challenge. In particular, three legged dogs have a different gait, and may have difficulty making sharp and quick turns. They also have less balance, and are more prone to falling down. Here, we consider how to make the [...]
This is a lovely story from Nicole, about her very special friend Alex ... I have never looked for others with tripods until today and find myself doing so because I believe we are coming to the end of a wonderful 11 year odyssey. Alex lost her left foreleg for reasons unknown to us. [...]