Three-legged Dogs – How To Provide The Right Care

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Can three-legged dogs have active life like four-legged dogs can? Keep on reading to learn what three-legged dogs need to survive.

Have you ever heard of the term ‘tripawds’?

If yes (even if you haven’t it is fine) you should know that this term actually adresses to three-legged dogs who are equally adorable as four-legged dogs are.

They are cute, playful, have a mind of their own, and they also enjoy a good run in the dog park as four-legged dogs do.

Three-legged dogs also know how to be mischievous, and don’t think that they won’t run super-fast when you show them their favorite treat.

Three-legged dogs are just like four-legged dogs – they are just missing one limb.

Are you interested in bringing a three-legged dog home, or do you just want to know more about why they have limb less, or if they are more work than four-legged dogs are?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these interests, you should keep on reading, because we will elaborate below on what kind of care these dogs need and what you can do to provide your three-legged dog the best life possible.

Three-Legged Dogs

Did you know that three-legged dogs can, with the right care, adjust easily to a new lifestyle?

Now, it may not be so common to see three-legged dogs whenever you go, even in dog surrounding such as dog parks, but they are there.

Seeing them can be overwhelming, sad, or can even inspire you to think about your own blessings, or how much love you have for your Fido.

Before you adopt or get a three-legged dog you should know that dogs end up as three-legged dogs for countless reasons.

Some dogs went through some kind of accident, others survived serious surgeries, others had a leg amputation, while some were just born as such.

Can dogs really be born as three-legged dogs? Yes.

Some dogs may have congenital birth defects that resulted in fewer limbs. No matter what the reason for fewer limbs might be, it is up to the dog owners to keep the dog active, strong, and happy.

Three-legged dogs need proper care – they must have a controlled muscle tone that can be achieved thanks to the right nutrition, regular veterinarian check-ups, and enough exercise.

Add to that extra treats and your three-legged Fido will be ready for any kind of adventure (as long as it is fit for the dog’s body).

Now, let’s see what you should know when it comes to three-legged dog care.

Keeping Your Three-Legged Dog Healthy

The very first thing that you should know is that some three-legged dogs do better than others.

For example, small size dogs tend to have an easier life with one limb missing, while larger size dogs demand better planning, more demanding logistics, and more time to adjust to balance.

Losing a limb is never easy, and it comes with many challenges, with the biggest one being how to relearn proprioception.

In practice, this means that dogs have to learn again how to balance with one limb missing.

This requires time and a lot of work for dogs to learn how to move their body in new spaces.

Did you know that dogs’ front legs make up 70 percent of the dog’s strength and balance?

This means that dogs who lose their front legs have more problems (which is why they need more time) adjusting to their new body movement.

In most cases, a three-legged dog will simply bounce back and adjust.

Some veterinarians and dog experts claim that some dogs do not even notice that their limb is missing.

Do Three-legged Dogs Require Special Veterinary Care?

In general, three-legged dogs do not require special care.

At least they do not require special care from the veterinarian side. On the initial amputation and rehabilitation are conducted, veterinarians should serve only for regular check-ups.

There should not be any extra veterinarian expenses, later on, than the regular amount. The only issue that may arise later on is linked with the risk of osteoarthritis and other joint problems as they age.

This is something that comes naturally because as dogs age it comes to alternations in both their movement and posture.

Luckily, this is something that is manageable and even preventable with the right care and exercise.

But First… Make Your Home Tripod-friendly

When it comes to providing the best care possible for your three-legged dog or dogs, you need to think about your living space.

If your dog used don’t be a four-legged dog and now a limb is missing, you should expect some life adjustment.

This doesn’t mean that only the dog’s surrounding is changing because your living area will be affected as well.

Some three-legged dogs may not have issues with stairs while others might, which is why you should think about home adjustment.

In other words, you should do your best to make your home tripod-friendly.

Here is how to achieve that:

  • If your dog keeps on slipping from stairs, think about placing a carpet on them
  • Make every slipping area nonslip surface
  • If your dog needs extra help with stairs, think about getting a body harness with handles so you can assist
  • If your floors are too smooth, place carpets

Caring For Your Three-Legged Dog

When it comes to caring for your three-legged dog you should know a lot will depend on your dog’s size.

It is expected for smaller size dogs, such as Pomeranian, to be easier to care for, but that shouldn’t discourage you from providing the best care possible for your Great Dane, or any larger breed that you might be sharing your household with.

Here are tested ways that will help your three-legged dog have a better and healthier life.

Focus On Their Remaining Legs

Keeping remaining limbs strong and in balance, is something that many three-legged dog owners continually battle with.

Still, this is something that should be taken as ‘a must’ since dogs will use the remaining limbs for the rest of their lives. This is why keeping them strong is so important.

Protecting the remaining limbs isn’t impossible.

All that you need to do is to make sure that you don’t put extra stress on joints, which can lead to many injuries and arthritis.

Learn what arthritis in dogs is and how you can prevent it.

Some dogs are prone to arthritis, such as German Shepherds are and their joints require proper care (exercise) from day one.

Focus on helping your three-legged dog in the best way possible. This means that you should be creative and flexible.

Put a sock or pad on the “elbow” of the remaining legs to prevent calluses and pressure sores.

This small assistance can put away a lot of stress and inspire your Fido to be more active.

Keep Your Three-Legged Dog Active

Just like humans, dogs were built to move.

Walking and running feel normal to them, just like it feels to humans. That being said, dogs thrive when there is an action. Dogs were bred to work.

They were bred for different types of assistance and tasks, but they were bred to work. This is why they like to move so much.

This is something that will remain in your Fido even if a limb is missing. One of the best ways to keep your three-legged dog healthy is to provide enough movement.

Any exercise that your dog loves and enjoys is more than welcome, just make sure that you adjust it to your new needs.

If you need help structuring the best exercise regime for your three-legged dog think about hiring a professional dog trainer, or just talk honestly with your veterinarian.

Is your dog a swimmer? If yes, hitting the polls should be a weekly activity.

Even if your dog is too fond of water, you should try to place him in the pool, because swimming puts less stress on their remaining joints.

Still, be careful even with this activity – your primary goal should be to have your Fido’s joints strong on the ground.

Don’t Overdo It

Keep your three-legged dog safe. This means that you know how much activity is good for your dog and how many exercise hours can actually harm him.

Always monitor your dog’s activity and don’t let him force it. Also, keep a close eye on your Fido while going up and downstairs, or when he is moving on an uneven surface.

This should be mandatory after a post-amputation period when your dog is adjusting to a new movement and lifestyle.

Get the Right Gear

Supporting three-legged dogs’ mobility can be pricey. This is usually because you might need to invest in a ‘wheelchair’ or any other gear item that can help your dog move easier.

Did you know that there are already artificial limbs and braces for animals? This is how advanced animal prosthetics have evolved, so this may be something to think about in the long run.

Joint Health in Three-Legged Dogs

Experienced dog owners know that dog’s joint health is something that should be maintained from day one.

The best way to keep a dog’s joints healthy and strong is by providing the right exercise regime and proper nutrition. This is something that is even more important in three-legged dogs.

As mentioned earlier, a condition known as osteoarthritis may appear in three-legged dogs, but proper exercise, next to the right dog supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM is a great way to support joint health.

Another factor that tremendously affects a dog’s joint health is weight.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States and this is something that even four-legged dogs have difficulties dealing with.

Keeping weight in balance is something that will prolong a dog’s life and improve life quality.

Obesity in dogs can lead to various issues and can shorter their lifespan. Plus, extra body fat promotes inflammation in the body which is something that dogs with osteoarthritis should never experience.

Know how much you should feed your dog, how often, and which human foods is off-limits.

Use regular veterinarian check-ups to monitor the dog’s weight.

If you have any concerns nutrition-wise, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian. This way you will provide the best nutrient for your Fido.

Exercising Three-Legged Dogs

Dogs with three legs can still be very much active.

Not only that they will follow through with your exercise regime, but they will demand extra exercise as well.

Dogs love to be mentally and physically challenged and exercise is a great way to do so.

As mentioned earlier, one of the most important factors in keeping three-legged dogs healthy is keeping their muscle tone in control.

Strong muscles support joints in the back or support remaining limbs that may be under as strong pressure.

Will a three-legged dog get tired faster than a four-legged dog? Simply said, yes. This is why knowing a dog’s body language helps.

Keep exercise and play sessions consistent, but make short breaks. If your three-legged dog has significantly reduced mobility – this applies to senior three-legged dogs or dogs with only two limbs, you should think about tripod dog accessories that will enable easier movement.

How to Organize Exercise Regime For Three-Legged Dog?

Regular exercise is what will keep your three-legged dog stronger and healthier in the long run.

Again: make sure that your dog isn’t overweight because it may create further problems and increase the dog’s mobility.

How to help your three-legged dog be active? Here are some tips:

  • Always let your three-legged dog set the pace
  • Do not pull the leash to speed your Fido
  • Have multiple short walks instead of one or two extremely long walks
  • Incorporate swimming into your exercise routine
  • Always monitor your dog carefully for any sign of fatigue

Last but not least, train your three-legged dog how to walk on a loose leash.

Great leash skills are important for any dog but are more appreciated if you are the owner of a three-legged dog.

Think about force-free training and hire a professional for extra training if needed. It cannot harm to bring a stroller on walks.

Having a stroller around is great if your dog starts experiencing fatigue. This way he can rest more often, which as result will help maintain the length of his exercise time.

Should Your Dog Get A Prosthetic?

There is no simple answer to this question since there are many pros and cons that experts point out.

The biggest downside of dog prosthetics at the moment is that it’s hard to find rock-solid information on the long-term effects. However, advocates of canine prosthetics claim that these items remove stress on the joints and help dogs avoid the development of osteoarthritis.

This is something that you should discuss with your veterinarian, or even talk with a specialist in veterinary rehabilitation medicine.

The Bottom Line

Tripawds can easily reach their senior years while being active all the time.

As a whole, they have very few limitations and a lot of love to give. Their biggest supporter is you, which is why providing the right care is so important.

Provide them with the right nutrition, physical exercise, home modification, and (if needed) mobility gear and you will have a happy and healthy dog.

In the meantime make sure that you check a relevant online source for anything related to three-legged dogs.

For more information on dogs with disabilities check Dogs with Disabilities.