Tripods are dogs that have had a limb amputated. This can be due to cancer, as a result of severe injury to a limb, or a birth defect that makes the leg nonfunctional. Tripods are often viewed as pitiful and their care automatically considered a burden. However, complications of amputations are rare and most tripods not only adapt quickly to life on three legs, but also thrive. Some need a little help. Others don’t really want any help. But with extra patience, devotion, time and lots of love, a tripod can have a happy life.
A few years ago, after many years of adopting physically and mentally abused or neglected animals, (mainly dogs and cats), we decided to adopt again. We already had two dogs, (one was severely abused), and two cats. All came from a shelter or a rescue. I happened across a young dog with which I connected instantly. She’d been abused and then hit by a car, resulting in the loss of her right front leg, all within her first six months of life. She was fostered and then adopted by a wonderful family. Due to a conflict with other pets, it was decided that Cailynn needed a different home. After the family interviewed me, I brought her home. She is the epitome of joy and happiness and reinforces for us daily how every moment should be lived to its fullest potential. She seems totally unaware that she only has three legs! She runs, plays and lives just like our other dogs do. She just has to rest more often.
Some special considerations should be made regarding caring for a tripod. A lot depends on the circumstances around the loss of limb and what, if any, health issues are in play. Careful consideration must be factored into the overall regimen for the animal. Always start with a quality holistic dog food. Supplementing the diet with quality fish oil and glucosamine HCL will reduce inflammation and help maintain flexibility.
Sometimes tripods have trouble navigating stairs or smooth tile, so non-skid surfaces are needed. Lifting the animal in and out of a car is recommended to avoid additional injuries. Check footpads for cracking, cuts and abrasions, and address by applying a balm when needed. Keep toenails trimmed to avoid tripping. Exercise regularly but at a minimum to avoid overdoing it. Elevating the food dish can reduce strain on the other legs at feeding time.
There are many products on the market to help make a tripod’s life more manageable, like stairs or ramps, lifts, harnesses, slings, etc. There are support groups, forums and health tips geared towards tripods both online and in some communities.
I hope if you’re considering adopting a tripod, or are faced with a decision of amputation for your own pet, that you’ll remember there’s much love and life in these special animals. They will warm your hearts with their focus on life rather than limitations.
Jenny Magli is a natural health consultant for pets and their people. She lives in the Upper Peninsula with her husband Bill and five clowns (three dogs and two cats). She is available for consultations and presentations and can be reached at (906) 439-5489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine’s Spring 2011 Issue.