By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There are various reasons why a dog may lose a leg. Cancer, accidents, congenital defects, etc. These loveable canines are affectionately referred to as “tripawds” meaning “three paws.”

These dogs are endlessly amazing and adapt extremely well on three legs. In fact, there are even tripawd service dogs adapting well in their fulfilling jobs.

What tripawds need most, like every dog, physically challenged or not, is love, gentle guidance and leadership. What they don’t need is too much sympathy or negative feelings. This can be a true deterrent to their full capacity, confidence level, total potential and their overall happiness.

A healthy well-balanced diet is extremely important. It helps to maintain a healthy weight to avoid arthritis in the future. A healthy normal weight will avoid unnecessary stress on the legs and will prevent any strain on the joints.

Observe signs of Elbow Hydroma, a fluid that forms around the dog’s elbow. This usually occurs shortly after the leg is removed as the dog adjusts to getting around until a callous is formed.

Encourage your tripawd and let him/her ease into exercise at an appropriate pace. Never force anything. Stamina can and will be increased at the level appropriate to the dog.

Use a special harness on walks for more support and there are special harnesses to help you to lift your dog and to provide easy mobility such as lifting your dog in and out of the car, etc. Provide carpeted areas in your home and non-slip stair treads.

Overall, provide patience and support and let your dog do the rest.