How to Take Care of an Amputee Puppy

by Elle Di Jensen
    Dogs typically adjust well to losing a limb, leading happy, active lives.

    Dogs typically adjust well to losing a limb, leading happy, active lives.

    Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

    There are different reasons it may be necessary for a puppy to have to undergo surgery to remove a limb. Cancer, accidents, being hit by a car -- any of these can result in injury so severe that the best option is amputation. Usually, dogs are resilient and adjust to their new situation easily. It's the puppy parents who tend to have a problem dealing with the way their once "whole" dog now looks with one less limb. If you and your puppy are faced with such life-altering circumstances, your loving care and support will help him live life on three legs.

    Immediately After Surgery

    Step 1

    Prepare a crate or other confined area for your puppy to recuperate after the surgery. He will be groggy from the anesthesia and pain killers for two to three days afterwards, and will need a safe, quiet and comfortable place to rest and begin recovery. Towels and rags make useful bedding that you can change out frequently to keep your pup clean and comfortable.

    Immediately After Surgery

    Step 2

    Cover your puppy's sutures to keep him from licking them while his wound heals. If the amputation is on the front, a t-shirt will cover the stitches nicely and if the amputation is on the hindquarters, a pair of boxer shorts will work. You may have to alter the clothes or use children's clothing instead of adult sizes, depending on the size of your dog.

    Immediately After Surgery

    Step 3

    Administer antibiotics and painkillers as directed by the vet.

    Immediately After Surgery

    Step 4

    Check your puppy's wound regularly, redressing it if the vet instructed you to do so. By periodically examining the wound you'll know if there is any seeping, bleeding or troublesome changes that the doctor should be notified about. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

    Immediately After Surgery

    Step 5

    Place a towel under your puppy's torso holding the ends above his back to help him balance and walk when you take him on potty breaks. Walk slowly, allowing him to maneuver and go at his own pace.

    Longer Term Care

    Step 1

    Encourage your puppy to walk so that he learns how to get around on three legs. Don't be overprotective. He can adjust to his new condition well if you don't treat him like an invalid.

    Longer Term Care

    Step 2

    Cover slick surfaces with rubber mats or floor runners to keep your puppy from sliding and falling while he is learning to maneuver on three legs. You may want to put stair treads on uncarpeted stairs or consider gating stairways off altogether until your puppy becomes better at getting around.

    Longer Term Care

    Step 3

    Install ramps with a non-slip surface over stairs if needed. Most dogs are able to re-learn navigating steps, but some dogs can have more problems than others, like smaller breeds who may have problems with stairs even without having to accommodate an amputation.

    Items You Will Need

    • Crate
    • Towels or rags
    • T-shirt or boxer shorts
    • Floor runners or rubber mats
    • Baby gate
    • Non-skid ramps

    Tips

    • If your pup is very small and even child-sized clothing is too big, you may have to cover his wound by wrapping an elastic bandage around his body and over the stitches. If no amount of dressing your dog or his wound keeps him from licking and nipping at the sutures you may have to resort to an Elizabethan collar.
    • As your puppy teaches himself to walk on three legs, he will fall and stumble from time to time, just like when he was learning to walk the first time around. Frequently inspect his body and legs to make sure that he hasn't hurt himself beyond a bump or bruise here and there.
    • Keep an eye on your puppy to make sure he is recovering and adjusting to his new condition well. Consult your vet if your pup doesn't want to try to walk, won't eat or appears to be depressed or otherwise not feeling well.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

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