Start With the Basics
Dogs end up as tripawds for a variety of reasons. Accidents, injuries, or illness may require a leg amputation, or a dog may have a congenital birth defect that resulted in fewer limbs. Regardless of the reasoning, having three legs is hardly a defect itself. Many dogs thrive on three limbs, enjoying the exact same activities as a four-legged dog.
As pet parent to a tripawd, your main objective in keeping them healthy is managing their general wellness and making sure they’re getting the right amount of exercise to keep their joints in good shape and prevent further injury. Don’t look at your dog’s lack of limb as a disability. With a bit of conscious care, you and your canine companion may forget that its any different than a dog with four legs.
What to Do If Your Dog Needs an Amputation
Veterinarians make recommendations with your pet’s best interests in mind. If your vet thinks your dog would benefit from an amputation, it’s because they’ve weighed the other options and determined that amputation has the greatest chance of helping your dog live its highest-quality life. Don’t be afraid to ask all of the questions that you need to about how they came to make the recommendation and what the surgery will entail for you and your dog, but keep in mind that amputation is a relatively safe procedure and is often more effective and affordable than limb-saving efforts.
The decision to have your dog’s leg amputated is a big one, but it may be the best thing you can do for your dog. Keep your mind on the positive aspects, which is that dogs who have a leg amputated because of injury or illness will usually feel much more comfortable than they did right before the surgery, and amputation can allow your dog to live a life without pain and/or reliance on painkillers.
How to Use Unstable Surfaces on Your Dog
Technically, strength training the front or hind legs using an unstable surface is the same.
Remember that tripod dogs get tired faster than their four-legged peers. Short but moderate or intense activities work better than long and slow-paced ones for three-legged dogs.
For example, implement five minutes sets with short breaks of about ten minutes. The breaks are ideal for muscle recovery. You can even massage the muscles to facilitate recovery.
What’s it like to own a three-legged dog?
Even though a dog may be missing a leg, they can live a long and healthy life without it. Understanding the needs of your three-legged pet and how to make their life easier is the first step in helping them live a full life. Dogs with three legs can certainly adapt to their situation and make for playful, loving, and lifelong companions.
A dog with only three legs is called a “tripod.” This means either a forelimb or hind limb is missing because of trauma from a car accident, catastrophic event, or amputation (surgical removal) due to infection, cancer, limb deformity, or fracture.
While they may have only three legs, tripod dogs can certainly go on to live a healthy and long life. They usually don’t require any specialized or ongoing care other than what’s needed post-amputation.
Adopting a tripod dog requires altering your expectations as the pet parent. These dogs may have a different gait or walk and may have trouble with coordination and balance, so you need to take care around stairs and inclines and watch for tripping hazards.
Agility training and high-impact sports competitions are not completely out of the question for your tripod dog but should be done with extreme caution. Also, these dogs may be at a greater risk for osteoarthritis (joint disease), spine problems, and lameness, so you need to take precautions to reduce or eliminate these risks.
Because dogs carry more weight on their forelimbs, those that have had a forelimb loss may have greater future concerns than those with a hind limb loss. For these pups, walking and running puts them at a greater risk of arthritis to the adjacent leg. And large-breed dogs generally have a harder time than smaller breeds supporting themselves on three legs.