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Is Amputation the Right Solution for My 10-Year-Old Dog with a Poorly Healing Broken Leg?


Dear VetBabble,

I have a ten-year-old dog who broke his hind leg 7 weeks ago. He had surgery, but the bone isn’t fusing well. I’m considering amputation as a solution. Is amputation appropriate in this case, and when should I consider it for my pet?

Understanding the Reasons for Your Dog’s Limping

Limping in dogs can have various causes, from minor injuries to more serious medical issues. It’s essential to understand the underlying cause of your dog’s limping to decide on the best course of action for its treatment. Our article on Why Is My Dog Limping? When to Worry and What to Do provides helpful insight into common reasons for limping and steps to take to address it. In the case of your ten-year-old dog, it’s crucial to understand the nature of the fracture, surgical procedure, postoperative care, and other factors that may influence your decision.

Potential Issues and Concerns

There are several underlying medical conditions that may cause a dog’s hind leg to fail in healing after surgery. For example, Hip Dysplasia in Dogs can lead to pain and limping in older pets. In addition, Bone Cancer in Dogs (Osteosarcoma) could be a concern for a dog suffering from a non-healing fracture. Another possible issue could be a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Dogs, which often happens in dogs with weakened ligaments due to age or obesity.

As you can see, there are various medical conditions and complications that can arise after surgery, so it’s essential to gather all relevant clinical information before proceeding with a decision on how to treat your dog’s situation.

Second Opinion and Veterinary Expertise

It’s crucial to seek a second opinion from a specialist in small animal surgery, such as an ACVS or ECVS diploma holder. This expert may provide a more comprehensive evaluation of your dog’s medical history, surgical procedure, postoperative care, and X-rays, which will help you make a more informed decision about the appropriate care for your pet. You should discuss the following:

  • The nature of the fracture, the surgery performed, and the materials used
  • Any possible complications that may interfere with the healing process
  • Options for additional treatment or surgery to increase the likelihood of the bone fusing properly
  • Postoperative care, including physical therapy, pain management, and any necessary modifications to your pet’s lifestyle
  • If amputation is a viable option for your dog’s specific situation and how it may impact their quality of life

Amputation might seem like a drastic option, but it can sometimes be the most compassionate choice for a pet experiencing chronic pain and reduced mobility. However, it is essential to consider all other treatment options and gather the necessary information to make the best decision for your pet’s wellbeing.

In conclusion, gather all relevant clinical information, consult with veterinary specialists, and explore additional treatment options before deciding whether to proceed with amputation. Your pet’s overall quality of life must be at the forefront when making these decisions, and a second opinion from a specialist will ensure you’re accurately assessing the situation.

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