How do dogs cope if they have a leg amputated?

Dog with amputated leg

(Q) How do dogs cope if they have a leg amputated?

(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: Dogs often cope really well with a limb amputation, and many dogs can have a normal or close to normal quality of life on three legs. 

As long as dogs are otherwise healthy and not overweight, they have a good chance of doing well. 

If they are overweight or unwell, particularly if they have lameness in the other limbs, then they might not cope so well with losing a leg.

As the front legs carry more than half their body weight, it is always harder for dogs to cope with losing a fore limb than a back leg. 

It is also easier for dogs who aren’t physically mature, than for older dogs, as they have more potential to adapt to life on three legs.

If a limb amputation is something you are having to consider for your dog, then talk things over with your vet — he or she will be able to advise you on how your dog will cope.

(A) Trainer Elizabeth Kershaw says: Dogs can cope amazingly well with losing a limb. They seem to make the adjustment to their balance very quickly.

A lot will depend on the breed, and the giant breeds are possibly going to struggle more because of the additional body weight load. 

While it isn’t to be recommended, there was a Border Collie who competed in agility for a while, such was his ability to cope.

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