Can a Three-Legged Dog Climb Stairs?

Dogs with missing limbs may seem like they have special needs or require intensive care, but in reality, their care is little different from that of four-legged pups. Most three-legged dogs can do everything their four-legged companions can do, including climbing the stairs. As all dogs age, their abilities change. For three-legged and four-legged senior dogs, inflammation and joint pain can limit mobility and may affect performance on steps.


Three-legged dogs adapt to their physical modification and can climb stairs, swim, jump onto the sofa and enjoy walks. Both physically and mentally, dogs can get used to the fact that they're missing a limb, adjust and get on with life. Your dog will explore and experiment on his own and should be up and running, so to speak, soon after the amputation.

Special Care

As these dogs age, they may require shorter walks so as not to tire their limbs. Supplements like glucosamine can prevent inflammation in the joints. Watch your dog for signs that he's tired on walks, such as turning around and heading for home or lying down on the grass. Take steps to prevent three-legged dogs from becoming overweight. Since these dogs must use their muscles and balance to compensate for the missing limb, extra weight puts an added strain on their bones.

After an Amputation

After an amputation, three-legged dogs go through an adjustment period of learning how to move. Slippery floors pose a health risk since dogs may tumble, risking injury to the remaining limbs. Use pet booties or put down rugs to minimize the chance of falls. Since hard floors can be painful to sensitive stumps, limit training activities to areas with soft rugs.


Since amputee dogs get more wear and tear on remaining limbs, this may lead to arthritis. To keep a three-legged dog healthy, monitor his activity level. Don't let him overdo it or he'll suffer later on. Assist him on steep stairs if he needs it by carrying or lifting him. Regular exercise such as walking or swimming can help an amputee dog stay healthy and active through his prime.

By Elton Dunn

About the Author
A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.