Amputations after an Injury, Infection, or Cancer Growth for Pets

pet amputations

A limb amputation may seem like a drastic course of action for your pet, but the procedure is carried out with the purpose of improving your pet’s quality of life. It is also only recommended where our veterinary team believes that it is in the very best interests of your pet.

There are primarily three different scenarios in which our experienced and compassionate veterinarians may recommend an amputation.

Amputation after an injury

Injury is one of the most common reasons for an amputation to be necessary. Animals often don’t have the same sense of danger as we do, and this puts them at great risk of being involved in an accident such as being hit by a vehicle or falling from a height. If your pet has a limb that is badly injured as a result of an accident and it cannot be saved using conventional surgery, amputation may be recommended

Amputation after cancer growth

Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t only affect humans. It is perfectly possible for your pet to develop cancerous cells in any part of her body, including in her limbs. Exactly which type of cancer this will be will depend on the origin of the cancerous cells but could include soft tissue or bone cancers. If conventional treatment such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery is unsuccessful, we may recommend that the cancer is removed entirely, and this may mean amputating the affected limb.

What to expect from the amputation process

Rest assured that all pets that require amputation will have the procedure carried out under a general anesthetic. This means that your furbaby will not be in any pain nor have any awareness or memory of the procedure. Exactly where the limb will be amputated will depend on her individual circumstances. However, for the rear leg, amputation is normally done at the upper 2/3 of the femur, leaving a stump of the leg. In front limbs, the entire leg may be removed at the shoulder joint, or the leg and shoulder blade are removed together. The wounds are closed using sutures or surgical staples, and your pet will need to return to have these removed approximately 14 days after the amputation.

​​​​​​​The entire amputation process should take under an hour, and the risks associated with the surgery are very low.

Will my pet manage after her amputation?

Much like humans, most pets adapt to their amputation extremely well. While she may need a little additional help and support in the early days to learn how to balance and move around efficiently before too long she will be running around just as she did before – only with one less limb. In the event that your pet has had an illness or injury that requires multiple limbs to be amputated, it is still possible to find solutions that enable her to live a happy and active life.

To help with this process, we may refer your pet to a physical therapist who can offer advice and support with the rehabilitation process after amputation. This will involve performing exercises to build muscle in the remaining limbs and helping her achieve full mobility and balance.

​​​​​​​If you have further questions about pet limb amputations, our skilled and experienced veterinary team would be happy to help. Please contact our veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, OH today.

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