Pet Care Tips for Three-Legged Dogs

by | General Pet Care |

Crash the three-legged dog
Crash the three-legged dog

Three-legged dogs, or tripods, are bound to amaze you with what they’re capable of. Just spend some time with one and you’ll see how playful, active and full of joy they are—just like any of their four-legged friends.

While there are a few health and safety precautions to take into account with three-legged dogs, you may be surprised to find that most tripod pets don’t require a great deal of additional accommodation to lead a happy, active life.

Here are some helpful tips when caring for a three-legged dog:

Keep a healthy weight: With one less leg to bear the dog’s body weight, it’s extra important for a tripod dog to keep a healthy weight to avoid undue stress on its other leg joints. Keeping your dog fit and maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of arthritis and other joint issues down the road.

Paw health: As with all dogs, nails should be kept trim. For tripods, this is helpful in maintaining balance and for walking comfortably. Since tripods place extra stress on their other paws, you should also check your dog’s paws regularly for cracks and irritation.

Watch for elbow hygroma: Elbow hygroma is a condition caused when dogs place too much weight on one elbow, resulting in swelling and a buildup of fluid. Young dogs are the most susceptible to this condition, since they haven’t formed a protective callous yet, and young tripods are especially susceptible to this condition. Make sure your dog has a soft bed made of orthopedic foam, and talk to your vet about additional steps you can take to prevent this condition.

A tripod-friendly home: For feeding time, an elevated food and water bowl will help your pet keep its balance. To prevent household slips, you can put down some runners with a non-slip pad underneath in areas with smooth flooring and on stairs. If your dog has recently lost its leg, it may take a little while to relearn how to get around parts of your house. Make sure you monitor your dog closely to prevent any accidents and to see if there are any areas that may be causing some difficulty. If you have a yard, also check for uneven surfaces or potential tripping hazards.

Exercise: It can take a little time for three-legged dogs to build up strength in their other three legs, so start with shorter, more frequent walks. There are also several fitness options that are easy on the joints (e.g., swimming) and designed to build up strength in the legs. If you have questions about physical therapy, massage or fitness, talk to your veterinarian to see what options would be suitable for your dog.

If you’ve adopted, or you’re thinking of adopting a tripod dog, you’re not alone. There’s a huge online community of people with tripod pets, where you can exchange tips, experiences, and get ideas on helpful products. Remember, tripod dogs don’t let their disability stop them from being amazing, loving pets, so hopefully you’ll keep an open mind about adopting one of these wonderful animals into your home!

Ruth Marks, Executive Assistant to the Chief Inspector here at the Ontario SPCA, has her very own tripod dog named Crash! In the video below she talks about how Crash has touched her heart. It’s a great story so watch now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYHhegpFgrU