If your pet needs to have a limb amputated, it can be a stressful time. Sometimes, however, this surgery is the best choice to relieve pain and improve quality of life. For many conditions, including cancers such as osteosarcoma and soft tissue sarcoma, a pet limb amputation can be vital to successful treatment.

Veterinary Oncology Services and Research Center wants to be sure that you know what to expect when it comes to pet limb amputation so that you can be prepared to help your pet make a full recovery.

The Days After Surgery

After your pet’s surgery, the amputation site will need to heal. Being prepared to care for your pet will help you navigate the first few weeks more successfully.

After a pet limb amputation, it is important that you:

  • Keep up with any bandage changes as directed
  • Keep the surgical site clean and dry
  • Prevent your pet from licking or disturbing the area (a t-shirt or boxer shorts can be helpful for this)
  • Administer prescribed medications
  • Notify us if there is any unexpected swelling, discharge, or discomfort
  • Do not clean your pet’s incision unless specifically instructed to do so
  • Keep your pet quiet during recovery
  • Be sure to return for recheck appointments so that we can be sure that your pet is healing well

It may be helpful to have a few supplies at home in order to better help you care for your pet. A digital thermometer and some lubricant can help you to monitor your pet’s temperature. Basic bandage supplies such as bandage scissors, sterile gauze pads, flexible wrap, and adhesive tape may come in handy.

If your pet requires a bandage or drain after surgery, we will show you how to care for them at your pet’s discharge.

Most pet leg amputation surgery sites are fully healed in 2-3 weeks.

Adjusting After Pet Limb Amputation

You and your pet will likely need a little help adjusting to life without a leg. Thankfully most pets do very well. The following recommendations will help your pet in the transition post-amputation:

Help your pet build strength—Your pet is going to be using some different muscles than he or she has previously used. We can work together to develop an appropriate exercise program or refer you to pet rehabilitation specialist in order to help your pet recover.

Care for the remaining limbs—Your pet’s remaining limbs are even more important now than they were previously. Weight management and joint health support are vital.

Keep us posted—Many pets do quite well. Let us know right away if your pet is not doing well or seems uncomfortable.

Most pets who undergo limb amputations go on to live very enjoyable lives. While it can be a tough decision for us to make as owners, many times undergoing an amputation is the best way to improve the quality of life for the patient.

While it isn’t an answer in all situations, limb amputation shouldn’t be discounted in circumstances where it is potentially curative or greatly improves your pet’s quality of life. Thankfully most pets adjust without skipping a beat.