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When Friends and Families Disagree About Amputation Surgery

When your vet suggested removing your cat or dog’s leg, was your entire family on board? Unfortunately it’s not uncommon when friends and families disagree about amputation surgery. That makes the amputation decision even more difficult, and causes those in favor to second-guess their choice — especially during the critical post-op days. Fionn’s pack is one of thousands who can tell you all about that scary time!

disagree about amputation
Fionn says “Yes, a great life is pawsible!”

Did your Pack Agree or Disagree About Amputation Surgery?

Amputation surgery is a huge decision to make for our pets, and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. The decision varies because all animals have different health histories, families have varying levels of income to contend with and perhaps the biggest factor of all is a person’s idea of what “quality of life” means for the animal. 

Until recently, amputation wasn’t even an option for most pets. Many of us were brought up to believe that “handicapped” or “disabled” animals are suffering. Society taught us that any animal who was “different” from the norm was not a happy critter and should be euthanized. Even senior animals were, and still are, put into this category by lots of people. Pet parents of specially-abled pets were viewed as selfish.

Most of us were probably blissfully unaware that our friends and family members even felt this way. Typically these strong feeling only come to light when we tell others that our vet recommended amputation for our beloved dog or cat. That’s when most of us discover out the truth about how our closest packmates really feel.

disagree about amputation
(Click to enlarge)

It’s hard enough to consider this decision on our own. But when others have a say (or think they have a say) in the amputation surgery decision, the situation is agonizing. Through the years we’ve watched many families struggle with the amputation decision. One member will advocate for the surgery, while others will try to tell them why it’s a bad idea.

I don’t think my husband was totally on board with me having our dog’s leg amputated but he knew I had my mind made up. — Penny4Weims

If you ask us, only the people closest to and caring for the potential Tripawd should have a say in the amputation decision. And even if an outside family member or friend has been through the amputation journey with their own animal, their opinion shouldn’t be part of the equation. After all, every animal is different and no two situations are alike. Your animal is one-of-a-kind.

How to Decide if Amputation is Right for Your Dog or Cat

If you’re caught up in a struggle about whether or not to amputate, here’s how you can reach a decision.

Get multiple opinions from veterinarians. If your family vet says your animal isn’t a candidate for amputation, go to an orthopedic or oncology specialist for a second opinion. If the specialist gives a green light for amputation surgery but your family still disagrees, get a third opinion from another specialist. We’ve witnessed many situations where a third opinion made all the difference for an animal who ended up as a hoppy Tripawd.

Show family members the Tripawds community. Give them a tour of our three-legged dog and cat videos, the Tripawds Photo Gallery and watch our inspirational Tripawds Community video. Many times their opposition comes from not having seen how pawesome these animals can be on three legs. 

Call the Tripawds Helpline. Our trained volunteers are ready to answer questions about what being a Tripawd mom or dad is really like, both during recovery and after. 

Last but not least, jump into the Tripawds Discussion Forums and Tripawds Chat room. Ask questions and talk to people who’ve been in your paws and understand the dilemma you’re facing. They never hold back, and will always be honest with you.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. We will never tell you that amputation is the best thing to do for your animal, because it’s not always the answer. But we do promise give you the information to help you decide for yourself. 


9 thoughts on “When Friends and Families Disagree About Amputation Surgery”

  1. Hello… I’m new here. My sweet Buddy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma couple days ago. I’m so heartbroken, confused and the sadness has taken over. Buddy is our family, he is the most incredible dog, so loyal and loving. Buddy is 12 years old and until now, he was in good health. I don’t know what to do. Can a 12 year old dog thrive after amputation?

    • Hi Dedee and Buddy, welcome. We are so sorry about the diagnosis, and can totally relate to your situation. Please come to our Discussion Forums and post in our “Size and Age Matters” topic, where you will find that yes, twelve year old dogs can do well on three as long as they are otherwise healthy. Please hop on over OK? We are waiting to help you there.

  2. One friend of mine had a husband who wouldn’t allow her to have their out of control male dog fixed. So when he was out of town she had the surgery done. The husband didn’t seem to notice! Mind you, most people would notice if a leg is suddenly gone.


  3. I feel very sorry for the ones who has to deal with a family disagrement. I was lucky, mine was all in! But the difference is, they know me well regarding my pets..I work in a vet hospital, my pets are my family and my “real” family knows this since I was a young child. They know that disagreeing with me isnt an option LOL But they dont, they know that I have a good judgement. I had positive reaction when they saw how Novak was walking and running like nothing had happen. Its not cancer related, so its a bit different… and even me, have a different opinion if I had to amputated due to cancer, Im not even sure I would or do chemo after that. See, I have a tripawds, I work in a vet hospital and even me dont know what I would do in that situation.

    Im sure that beeing thorn between a spouse and your own decision must be difficult and like any other disagrement, talking about it and seeing both parties is a must to get to a final decision.

    • I love your strong attitude and approach! When it comes to amputation, I’m guessing most unenlightened people don’t see the situation as any different whether cancer is involved or not. As for your thoughts about amputation and cancer, it’s wise of you not to jump to any conclusions about what you would do, since you’ve never been in that situation. That shows me that you are open to anything once you analyze all the facts. Most people aren’t willing to hold off on spouting off their opinions, even if they’ve never traveled that road. Thank dog for Novak and you, for being such pawesome ambassadors. You are changing hearts and minds!

  4. It was the worst time ever, when my family (mom) was so against Nitro’s amputation. “How can you DO that to him” was a question I heard over and over. I finally blew up at her, read her the riot act, and actually cut off communication with her for several weeks after his surgery. Being the first-born, responsible, obedient kid I was, this was hard to do, but necessary for my sanity. I wouldn’t let her see him for months afterwards either. Today she sings his praises and brags how well he’s doing. I also had “well-meaning friends” tell me their opinions without being asked. I’ve discovered you really know who your true friends are when dealing with an emotionally stressful situation like this.

    Paula and Nitro

    • Haw haw, go Paula! Look what you did by standing up for your decision. You changed your Mom’s mind…that’s like turning water into wine when it comes to moms of a certain age! Good for you! And I agree, you do find out who your true, non-judgmental friends really are.

  5. Ditto on the second opinions. My family vet, who is great, felt that Otis’ arthritis would be a problem if he had an amputation. The surgeon we consulted with, who does many amputations, often for cancer, felt that Otis would be fine. And he was!


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