On a recent trip to the animal shelter when our family decided to adopt a dog, we noticed the perfect match for our family. He was a large mixed breed and although we were unsure of the breed we knew from the moment that we laid our eyes on him that he would fill our home with joy. There was one aspect our dog that his set him apart from the rest at the shelter, Sparky only had three legs.
It turned out that a car accident was the reason for the amputation from the knee. Although we had never raised a pet that was missing a limb we were sure that a trip to the local veterinarian and a little research would give us all of the information we needed to provide him with a loving home.
Why Do We Have to Amputate?
This was our first question when we took him to the local vet – we thought that experience would yield the answers that we required. We were interested to know the how and the why of amputations. Surprisingly, not many dogs are born with limb amputations. The most common diseases at the cause of canine amputations were bone cancer, and could be extremely painful for the dog. Although it can be difficult for the owner to make a decision of amputation, it is the best option for the dog to relieve pain and suffering.
Other, less common reasons that a dog would have a leg amputated included car accidents, abuse or neurological disorders. Rarely, a dog will be born with a limb missing.
Three legged dogs often live content without their fourth leg. After a recovery period, the dog learns to adjust with the three legs and others may not even notice that the dog is missing a fourth. It can be traumatizing for the owners as well as the dogs, as we wonder about the pain and suffering that the dog may have from our decision to amputate. Each time amputation is suggested, it is suggested as the best option and therefore helps, rather than hinders the dog.
Mental and Physical Recoveries Happen Quickly
In the instance of amputation it is important to accept that the limb has been lost. Of course, this does not happen overnight but everyone must move on from the trauma and begin the road to recovery. This is not uncommon in a human case – and although most of us may not know an amputee personally, we have all read the stories or seen a television special on the topic.
Animals are even more resilient than humans, especially in the case of a limb being amputated. Recovery time can take as little as week before the dog is mentally recovered. Of course, the physical trauma may continue as the dog learns to walk with three legs but even the limping, or hopping will eventually disappear. Every dog returns to the persona that they embodied before the amputation.
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