We love all dogs — four legged, or not. Three-legged dogs, lovingly referred to as tripawds, are the same as every other dog. They deserve the same amount of love, though they may need just a little more care and attention. Here are our tips for taking care of a three-legged dog.
Adopting a Three-Legged Dog
When it comes to adopting a tripawd, there aren’t many differences. They likely lost the leg due to an injury or birth defect and the shelter or breed would likely make sure the wound is fully healed before allowing them to be adopted. The shelter staff will be able to fill you in on whether they have any ongoing care needs.
When you bring your three-legged dog home, give them time to explore at their own pace. Like many shelter dogs, there’s a chance they’ve never climbed stairs before or jumped onto a couch. Use positive reinforcement training to encourage them to tackle new activities—they’ll be pros in no time.
After all, three legs are still just as capable as four!
Exercising Your Tripawd
Regular exercise is necessary for all dogs, but it’s extra crucial for three-legged dogs, who can experience pain or joint problems if they’re carrying around too much weight. You’re going to have to worry a little more about obesity with tripawds than regular dogs because of their increased risk of injury. You can help lower that risk with dog elbow or ACL braces.
Let them run, scamper, play, and fall as they want to. It’s all part of how they have fun. If you notice your tripawd isn’t as coordinated as your other dogs, resist the urge to be overprotective. They are not as balanced because their weight isn’t as evenly distributed. It’s completely normal.
On walks, let your tripawd set the pace. Aim for multiple short walks throughout the day to ensure they don’t tire out their legs. Swimming is amazing for tripawds as well. It helps their limbs and joints stay healthy without putting any added stress on them.
Tripawds have very few limitations and a whole lot of love to give. Provide them with the care they need and they’ll go on to live long and happy lives, no extra fuss required.
Tips on Keeping Your Three-Legged Dog Happy
Three-legged dogs can either feel more vulnerable because of their missing limb, or not even realize it’s gone. It all depends on the dog. If yours is the former, then you can help boost their confidence. Try new things and let them enjoy it at their own pace. Ease them into hiking, let them jump into the water when they’re ready to, and show them that they can do everything their four-legged friends can.
It’s also crucial to maintain a healthy diet. Three-legged dogs need plenty of protein and you should actively work to cut down on treats and fatty foods. They’ll need all the muscle they can get to compensate, without worrying about extra pounds.
If your dog prefers to “hop” instead of run, let them! It won’t hurt them and, although it may look weird, it’s a habit they developed to compensate. There is no need to train it out of them. Instead, embrace their quirks and make it easier for them to hop around the house.
If your dog is missing one of their front legs, then they’re putting about 60% of their body weight onto one limb. Perhaps add a ramp up to your bed or couch or add rugs for grip to help them out?
For outside play, make sure your yard is clear of all debris and as level as you can make it. Play on the grass and dirt instead of hard concrete. Basically, do everything you can to keep their three paws and legs healthy. After all, if the one gets injured, it may make walking so much harder for your pup. Plan ahead and accordingly to make sure they stay as safe as possible.
Finally, raised food and water bowls are a must. If they’re missing a front leg, it will be very hard for your dog to lean down far enough to eat or drink out of ground-level bowls. Make it easier for them and they’ll love you all the more for it.
We at Doggy Brace know how hard it can be to take care of a dog with special needs. However, a tripawd may not need any extra attention at all. It all depends on the dog and how comfortable they are with you and their home. Give them plenty of love and patience and you’ll see them thrive. We guarantee it.