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Three-legged pets

Q: My dog, Jake, was hit by a car today. I had to make an immediate decision about whether to have the veterinarian amputate one of his legs or euthanize him. I chose amputation, but now I feel guilty that I am forcing him to live with only three legs. Can you offer any insight?

A: Much research has been done on this subject, and I can assure you that Jake will be fine.

Studies in dogs and cats have examined activity, attitude and quality of life before and after amputation. Researchers found that almost all pets adapt well to amputation, are as active and apparently happy after amputation as they were before, and enjoy a normal life with the same recreational activities as before the amputation.

Most families that participated in the research said they would make the same decision about amputation if the issue arose again.

The only factor associated with a less favorable outcome was excess weight. So, if Jake needs to lose weight, work with your veterinarian to accomplish that. Then keep Jake on the slim side of the normal range.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

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