How Much Does Limb Amputation in Dogs Cost?

One of the lingering questions pet parents have in mind when their pet is afflicted by a terrible leg injury is “should I amputate my dog’s leg?”

The dog leg amputation cost will vary greatly, but in general, it will tend to be on the expensive side – at least for most pet owners. This is because amputation is a serious surgery that is both time and labor intensive.

In broad terms, amputations will cost around $500 to $1,500. In addition, your dog will likely need bloodwork before going under anesthesia. This will add $80 to $250 to the surgery cost.

In most cases where amputation is recommended, only one leg needs to be removed. If additional limbs are to be removed, this wouldn’t necessarily increase the base price of dog leg amputation surgery.

However, if multiple surgeries are required due to limitations on how long an animal can be under anesthesia, then one would expect to pay upwards of $1,500. Additionally, such dogs would likely require more specific rehabilitation and nursing care afterward.

Their costs would depend entirely on the hospital where the procedure is done but could add as much as $500 to the bill.

Amputations on smaller dogs will be towards the lower end of the cost range compared to larger dogs, as they require smaller amounts of anesthesia.

Another item to note is that the cost to amputate dog’s front leg can be around $100 to $200 more than a hind leg due to a higher risk of complications associated with the removal of the front limbs.

Eligibility – Can Your Dog be Amputated?

Amputation of a dog’s leg is a serious surgical procedure – however, one which has great efficacy in combating a variety of diseases and situations including preventing pain, removing a damaged limb or preventing the spread of an illness such as cancer.

Although it seems severe, dogs actually do not seem to experience the same impact that a human would after a limb amputation. So-called ‘tripod’ dogs, those with 3 legs, adapt to their new living situation very quickly in fact. Most dog owners and veterinarians note that these dogs hardly even notice they are disabled at all.

While amputation may be the top option for some, it may be unsuitable for others. Larger, obese dogs, for instance, may not be able to adapt well to losing a limb.

Broad-shouldered dogs that are used to putting their weight on their front legs can’t afford to lose them either.

Your vet will make their recommendation based on the blood work and x-ray results, as well as their overall observation of your pooch. Pre-anesthetic bloodwork before the surgery can cost $80 to $250 depending on the age and health of your dog.

 At the end of the day, though, it is your call as its human parent to make the decision.

dog with bandage after surgery

The Surgery

Remember the purpose of this surgery. Your pet is on its way to getting rid of the unimaginable pain it is in.

To prepare for the operation, your dog has to go on 12-hour fasting – you would not want your dog throwing up in the middle of surgery, as that might cause complications. Drinking water is fine, though, so there is no need to deny it of drinking.

For front limb amputations – most commonly, the whole leg from the toes to the shoulder blade is removed. This is done to avoid interfering with your dog’s movement and to keep it from getting sores.

For the rear area, surgeons would do a high femur amputation where the cut is made at the thigh level. However, if the disease is coming from the thigh, surgeons would remove the leg at the hip joint – retaining only the pelvis.

In very rare situations where the affected area is coming from the upper section of the limb, the whole pelvis would have to be removed. This would increase the cost of surgery greatly.

Post-Op and Healing

Regardless of the type of surgery, dogs go back to their old lives shortly after the operation. They will be discharged from the hospital within the same week of their surgery and will normally take just a few weeks to fully adapt to their new situation.

There are also multiple things you could do to help your pooch recover smoothly and swiftly.

Pain relievers will help alleviate the discomfort of having gone through a major operation. Your veterinarian will recommend the best medication for your dog, but what they normally prescribe are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Pain relief drugs such as gabapentin for use during an average recovery period will run about $20 to $50 and antibiotics to prevent complications will be around $20 to $40.

The size of the dog and type of specific drugs prescribed will, of course, affect the exact prices too, as larger dogs require higher doses. The recheck examination and suture removal will typically be included in the cost of the surgery.

Have your pet rest in a soft, comfortable bed and help position it such that it is not leaning on the surgical site. Dog beds are available at any stores from $5 to $50.

Dogs will find it difficult to walk on their own after surgery, so do not allow access to stairs and smooth or slippery surfaces for the first 48 hours.

You must also make them wear a recovery collar or dog cone for the first two weeks after the procedure to prevent them from licking or scratching their surgical wound. There are a variety of recovery collars starting at $8 and could go up depending on size and material.

A sling support could also help them gain balance, so it would be a good idea to purchase one. Sling supports or harnesses cost from $19 to $95 at Tripawd Gears, a shop specifically created for three-legged dogs. You may also choose to make an improvised one using a towel.

Regularly visit the vet for follow-up checks every three days. This is especially good for dogs that have discharge such as blood or pus coming out of the surgical site.

Dog Leg Amputation Timeframe

A typical timeframe from initial prognosis to the suture removal is about 2 weeks. The amputation itself can take up to 2 hours and requires the administration of anesthesia.

Following it, dogs will need to be hospitalized for at least 24 hours, if all else goes well, for monitoring and pain management. After the procedure and initial hospital stay, the dog can go home, but medical care is still needed.

Most animals will need a recheck exam a few days after the surgery and then, if there are no other problems or complications, the sutures would be removed at around 10-14 days post-amputation. At this point, the dog can resume normal activity.

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