The Hardest Part Of Amputation

This is “Buddy”.

3 legs are better than 2!
3 legs are better than 2!

Buddy is a very sweet puppy owned by a lady who purchased him off of a “breeder” who had him returned by an older lady. At the time of the purchase she was told that Buddy “had a limp” but that 2 veterinarians had examined him and both said that he would be fine as long as he didn’t re-aggravate his “injury”.

What did not get diagnosed was the single most common bone injury in a growing puppy. Buddy had a Salter Fracture of his humerus, one of the bones that makes up his elbow. This is a fracture that can occur in all growing animals (children too) and is a break through the cartilage growth plate of the bone (the condyle). Usually they are caused by a fall. These often do not hurt as much as true bone fractures because the cartilage has very little nerve supply compared to the bone itself. Left untreated however these fractures cause horrid joint deformities and severe arthritis at an early age.

Buddy’s owner regrettably did not have the income available to pursue a full repair of his injury, which at this point would have been quite extensive. However she was very persistent and was rewarded as Fixed Fur Life agreed to help her with the bill for the repair. If the injury had been repaired when it first occurred the procedure would have been relatively simple in comparison. Because of all of the changes that had occurred in his elbow by the time we saw him, the only feasible option for repair was to amputate his foreleg and remove his pain.

Now amputation is always an interesting option to discuss with owners. We are 2-legged and when we think about amputation we pretty much think of falling over. However dogs have 4 legs, not 2, and do tremendously well after an amputation. All that they care about is that they are not in pain and that they can run all over the place. My favourite saying about amputation is ”the hardest part of an amputation is the owner!”. Once the owner is over the shock and once the pet has recovered, everyone is always very happy with the results. Just like Buddy’s owner is.

Buddy has healed wonderfully, as they all do, and is now a very happy energetic puppy. Mom is also very happy.

Mike Steen, DVM
Hillcrest Animal Hospital
May, 2015