It’s not unusual these days to encounter dogs with three legs. While it was once something of a rarity to see a 3-legged dog, veterinary care is more advanced today which means that many dogs with injuries, bone cancer, or a neurological disorder can survive just fine after a limb is removed. These dogs can live a long, happy, healthy life with three legs.


If you get the news that your dog needs to have a leg amputated, it’s still devastating news for any owner. But you should take comfort in the fact that nearly all dogs can quickly learn to adjust to life on three legs. A dog with three legs seems to forget that they have a missing limb – and so does the owner. They run, play, and continue to act like any other dog.


If your dog does need to have a leg amputated, you will need to take care at first while your dog adjusts. Be careful with slippery floors and other surfaces that can keep your dog from getting good traction. You might consider providing your 3-legged dog with paw wax or something else on his paws to help him grip the floor. Some owners recommend doggy boots for good traction, especially at first. You can also put down throw rugs for more traction, especially if you secure them in place so they don’t slide.


It’s also important that you don’t allow a 3-legged dog to become overweight. Excess weight can put extra strain on the alternate leg and possibly cause injury. Be sure that your “tripod” dog gets regular exercise.


Some owners provide a 3-legged dog with a wheelchair or cart made for disabled dogs but it’s usually not necessary. Such carts are more often used for dogs with only two legs.


Sometimes you will find a 3-legged dog at a shelter or rescue. These dogs can live a completely long and happy life but they may have been taken to the shelter because their previous owners didn’t know how to care for them or thought that the dog was less than perfect. If you would like to adopt a dog with three legs, it’s important for you to understand that the dog will need some special care. You will need to pay special attention to the leg opposite the leg that’s been amputated to make sure it doesn’t become strained or carry undue weight. If this leg seems weak, you can provide more support for it with a splint or brace. Or, you can provide a pet cart or wheelchair.


If any of the amputated leg remains, you’ll need to make sure the bottom of the stump remains healthy. In some cases it’s possible for the dog to have a prosthetic limb attached. This is something you would need to discuss with your veterinarian.


A number of celebrities own tripod dogs which has probably helped people understand that these dogs make perfectly good pets. Comedian and talk show how Jon Stewart has a 3-legged pit bull mix named Little Dipper who accompanies Stewart to work at his show.


Sandra Bullock has a 3-legged Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix named Poppy that she adopted in 2005. She later adopted the 2-legged dog Ruby with her then-husband Jesse James.


Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain takes her dog Chaplin to work with her and walks him herself. Chastain is one of the stars of Zero Dark Thirty. She has two other rescue dogs – Radley, a Corgi-Spaniel mix, and Roman, a Chihuahua mix.