Caring For a Three-Legged Dog

How to Help a Pet Cope With a Losing a Leg

Occasionally, due to circumstances such as bone cancer, amputation due to injury, or birth defect, a dog may have lost a leg and therefore have some difficulty getting around. Fortunately there are things that can be done to ease the discomfort and mobility problems that these dogs have to deal with. The first ingredient requires a loving and devoted owner.

Obstacles for Handicapped Canines

Many dogs are able to cope with their handicap and seem to get around almost as well as dogs that have all of their appendages intact. Others need a little more help. Navigating stairs or slick tile can present one such problem. Adding a non-skid surface such as non-slip stair treads or carpeting can provide added stability for the three-legged friend.

Jumping in and out of a car can also be difficult for the three-legged dog because additional impact on the remaining legs can lead to injury and arthritis. To solve this problem, lift him in and out of the car to keep injuries to a minimum. There are now special harnesses available for “tripod” dogs that allow the owner to use a built in handle to assist in supporting and lifting the dog.

Some dogs will still want to do all the things they used to do, such as swimming. Swimming is an excellent therapy for strengthening the remaining leg muscles. It’s always a good idea to invest in a dog life vest, even for dogs that have all of their legs, and for the three-legged canine it will provide added buoyancy and help combat fatigue.

Care Tips for Three-Legged Canines

Since there is added stress on the remaining legs, check the foot pads regularly for cracking, cuts, and abrasions, and apply a balm or lotion when necessary. Make sure to keep the toenails trimmed regularly as well in order to help Fido avoid tripping and having further reduced movement. Exercise is still recommended, just keep it to a more moderate level and allow the dog to move at his own pace.

At feeding time, try raising the dog’s food up off of the floor to give him easier access. This helps to take stress off of the legs by having him bend over too far to reach his food. Supplement his food with glucosamine and omega-3 fish oil to help with inflammation.

Bedtime can pose similar problems. Try raising up the dog bed to allow the dog easier access so he won’t have to flop down on a hard floor. Another good tip is to always have a couple of pillows or blankets lying around in his favorite lounging spots. This well help reduce stress on the remaining legs and keep the from becoming chafed if he’s prone to lying on that side.

Use a sock or coverlet on partial amputations to prevent calluses and apply lotion as needed.

Living With a Tripod Dog

Most dogs with a handicap learn to adapt rather quickly. It’s alright to provide assistance when needed, but try to allow the dog to attempt to do things for himself. With love and encouragement, he may surprise everyone and become the ball-fetching, frisbee-playing buddy that he always was.


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