Limb Amputation

Why does my pet need an amputation?


There are a variety of reasons why your pet may need to have a limb amputated.  The most common indications for amputation include cancer of the bone or soft tissue, congenital abnormalities resulting in crooked or nonfunctional limbs, and severe injuries to the limb that are difficult or impossible to repair.


Will my pet be able to get around okay on three legs?


While the idea of your pet losing a limb can be very difficult to accept, animals have an amazing ability to adapt to getting around on three legs.  For many pets who require an amputation, they have already gotten used to walking on three legs due to the surgical limb being painful or nonfunctional.  There are several factors, however, that can greatly affect your pet's ability to cope with the change.  For example, pets who are extremely overweight, who have arthritis or mobility issues in other limbs, or who have other serious health conditions (kidney disease, heart failure, etc) are likely to have a difficult time adapting, and amputation may not be the best course of action.  We are happy to discuss your pets individual case and help you decide what is best for your individual pet.


What can I expect after my pet's amputation surgery?


Many of our patients are already walking with minimal assistance the day after surgery. However, every animal is different and your pet may require some assistance with a sling while he or she is adapting to the change.  Your pet will have an incision with skin sutures that will need to be removed in 10-14 days.  Some bruising or fluid accumulation may occur during the first 3-5 days after surgery, but does not require any additional treatment and will resolve on its own over an average period of 10 days.  Your pet will be sent home with pain medications and antibiotics for the first 10 days after surgery.


How can I help my pet following an amputation?


You can help your pet have a smooth recovery in many ways.  If possible, building ramps where your pet currently uses stairs to go to the bathroom can help them navigate their way in and out of the house.  If this is impractical, simply using a towel or blanket as a sling to help support your pet's weight during the first few days can help in their comfort and confidence while healing.  Your pet will not be able to go swimming or get bathed until the skin sutures are removed, typically 10-14 days after surgery.  After sutures are removed, your pet is free to resume his or her normal activities.




Daisy, a 95 pound Great Dane, less than 24 hours after her amputation surgery.