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What is the Best Weight for a Tripawd Cat or Dog?

You may have heard that amputee pets need to be lean, but what exactly is the best weight for a Tripawd cat or dog? Today you’ll find out!

Lulu Tripawd Cat
Lean and lovely Lulu the Tripawd Cat

Late in 2020, veterinary pain management expert Dr. Robin Downing chatted with us about all things Tripawd during an exclusive hour-long video interview. In this short excerpt, Dr. Downing explains how the definition of “lean” for a Tripawd has changed. And then she demonstrates a trick to find the best weight for our Tripawd cat or dog. Watch, and learn!

Watch more videos about Tripawd health and pain management with Dr. Downing!

(Transcript of above video excerpt follows)

How Do You Support Quality of Life for Amputee Dogs and Cats?

DR. DOWNING: Okay. So here’s something that I’m often confronted with this question when I’m discussing amputation with one of my clients. They will ask me, and now we are talking non-cancer. So cancer changes the landscape particularly if it’s osteosarcoma. It changes the landscape. But if we have a non-cancer reason for losing a limb, I’m often asked, “Well, does this mean my dog is going to live a shorter life expectancy or does this mean my dog, my cat is going to live a shorter life expectancy?” And my answer to them is not necessarily. And in fact no, I wouldn’t expect that at all.

What is the Best Weight for a Tripawd Cat or Dog?

We have to provide appropriate support. So what does that mean? Well, the first and most important thing is it means that we have to absolutely ensure ideal lean body mass. This is an animal that cannot be allowed to become heavy in any way.

So on a scale of 5 where like 1 is emaciated and 5 is morbidly obese, we used to think that 3, right in the middle, was ideal. We now know that that’s not true. We need to be just below that. So on a 5 scale, I would say 2.75 is ideal at my house.

If use a 9 scale, we used to think that 5 was perfect and now we know we really need to be in the 4 to 4.5 range for us to have an ideal body composition. And I would lean toward 4. I really like a 5 scale because I’m kind of a simple person and so I target just below 3. And this is lean body composition.

The 1-9 Body Condition Scale for Cats

Feline Body Condition Scale

How to Know When Your Tripawd is at the Right Weight

When my clients ask me, “How will I know that we are there?” I teach them about rib coverage. So, this is the participation part of the chat, so I have my clients take their hand and put their hand palm up and with the flats of their other fingers feel their knuckles and I say, “Okay, with the flats of your fingers, that’s too much rib coverage. Too much.”

Then I have them sit, “Take that hand, put it palm down and make a fist and feel your knuckles. That’s too little rib coverage.

Instead, it’s a flat hand, palm down, feel your knuckles, that’s perfect. We shouldn’t see the ribs but we should be able to feel them easily right behind the shoulder blades.” So, nice waist line at the end of the rib cage, tucked above them and that kind of thing.”

The 1-5 Body Condition Scale for Dogs

Tripawd lose weight
Canine Body Condition Score. Image:

End of Transcript

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