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What to Expect: Bringing Pets Home Same Day of Amputation Surgery

Can you bring pets home same day of amputation surgery? Yes. Should you leave your new amputee pet alone overnight in the vet clinic? NO! If you live in an area without overnight vet care, don’t panic. You have options. This is what you need to know before surgery day.

A Big Surgery Requires Extra Care

German Shepherd amputation recovery
Lucca gets great amputation recovery care with her veterinary clinic team.

Amputation surgery is a big deal that requires closely monitored after care. In an article about dog leg amputation surgery by Colorado State University’s veterinary teaching hospital, they drive this home by explaining the risk of amputation surgery:

“the serious complications rate is up to 5%, with a fatality rate of less than 1%.” — CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital

In the big picture, those are low statistics. But what if your pet turns out to be one of them? Why risk it? If you can work with a vet that has 24-hour monitored care with on-site staff throughout the night, you just reduced the chances of your pet becoming a tragic amputation surgery statistic. But if not, that’s OK too. Keep reading if bringing home pets same day of amputation surgery is the only option where you live.

My Vet Does Not Have Overnight Care. Now what?

pets home same day of amputation surgeryMick the Tripawd Boxer recovers from amputation surgery.

We get that not everyone has access to a 24-hour clinic. If you’re in that situation, that’s OK. You are still a good pet parent and you can lean on us in the Tripawds Forums during recovery. Here’s what to think about before surgery:

Option 1: Ask if your vet works with a nearby 24-hour clinic. 

See if you can coordinate overnight care with a nearby emergency clinic. High quality, small practices will have arrangements with larger facilities that have a certified veterinary technician stop by periodically throughout the night to check on patients. Or, your vet might have an arrangement that allows new amputee cats and dogs to be transferred to that provider at night, and returned in the morning. Just keep in mind that you will probably need to transport your Tripawd to and from the clinics. 

Option 2: Can your vet care for your pet at their home?

Many small town veterinarians like Mona’s vet will take their patients home with them. Ask if yours will.

Option 3: You will be your pet’s overnight nurse.

Bringing a cat or dog home same day of amputation surgery isn’t fun, but it’s not impossible. Many Tripawds members have taken on the task and lived to tell about it. Being a vet nurse at home is not easy, but it’s better than not doing the amputation at all.

My nerves are fried. He hasn’t stopped moaning since he got home but acts like he wants to get up and then screams out of no where. I don’t know what to do, it doesn’t seem like sleep is something he wants or can do at all. I am laying next to him and talking to him. Im scared to touch him or let him move even thought he has attempted to move himself a few times. So at a loss… Elvis’ mom, @cgodinez

If bringing your cat or dog home same day of amputation surgery is your only choice, don’t panic. Just be prepared. 

  • Ask your vet for overnight contact numbers, just in case you need help.
  • Talk to your vet about pain management side effects. Know how your pet may react to medications beforehand.
  • Most new Tripawds are extremely wobbly and out-of-sorts at first. Anxiety and restlessness are common.
  • You probably won’t get any sleep. Try to have a nursing partner with you for extra help.
  •  The first two days can be rough, but they do get better!

The best amputation aftercare situations start when you know what to expect on amputation surgery day. Some low cost amputation surgery clinics like our friends at Helping Hands Veterinary Clinic in Richmond, Virginia, keep their costs down by requiring pet parents to handle post-op amputation care. They make this easier on clients by giving helpful information about amputation surgery recovery before the dog or cat goes home. 

Whatever you decide to do, Please don’t let your pet to stay alone at the clinic after amputation surgery.

Even if your vet says it’s OK to leave your new Tripawd overnight without monitoring, please reconsider.

Betsy’s Law in New Jersey was written in response to the tragic death of a dog who died alone in a vet clinic after an eye surgery–a simpler procedure than a leg amputation! Written in 2015, the New Jersey law requires veterinarians to notify their clients if they do not provide 24-hour care for hospitalized animals. 

Pets left alone after amputation surgery are at risk. In our community, we’ve seen some pets die when left alone. There’s no way to prove if they could have been saved if someone was on-site overnight, but why risk it? Bringing pets home same day of amputation surgery is better than not doing it at all.  

A Great Recovery Starts with Great Care

A cat or dog amputation surgery is often one of the biggest procedures a veterinarian does. But some clinics may only do a few amputations each year, others will do dozens. Before you decide on a clinic, ask good questions before amputation surgery. Find out how many amputations your vet does in a month or a year. The more the better. And remember that AAHA-accredited clinics follow the most stringent protocols for safety, surgery, pain management and more. If you’re not familiar with AAHA clinics, learn Why Your Pet Should See an AAHA Accredited Vet.



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9 thoughts on “What to Expect: Bringing Pets Home Same Day of Amputation Surgery”

  1. Hi there! I just had my 3.5 year Doberman’s front leg amputated due to OS bone cancer.
    This is my first time with him. The vet was amazing and topped him up with pain meds before we left.
    I took him home the first night. (Brought him in at 8, picked up at 5) .
    He’s very comfortable on my bed with lots of love.

    He’s breathing heavy while laying down resting from from his big day. Is this normal?
    Any ideas on steps going forward?

    • Hi Michael, we are sorry your pup had to join our club but glad you found us. Taking your dog home the same day of surgery is not easy but you can do this. Please join us in our Discussion Forums so we can help you better OK? You’ll find LOTS of input there from the community. I’d love for you to go over there so you can describe to us what pain meds he is on, dosages, etc. Some panting is normal but it can also indicate he is under-medicated too. Join us there so we can guide you in a good pain management conversation with your vet OK?

  2. The day after surgery and my boy won’t lay down. He’s been standing up and whimpering for hours. He’s on pain meds. How can I help him get some rest?

    • Hi Rita. That can be a sign that he has too little or too much pain meds. The best way to figure it out is to let your vet know his symptoms, and ask to see how you can adjust the schedule and dosing of the medications. Also please visit our Treatment and Recovery Forum so we can better help you OK? Good luck and keep us posted.

    • My daughter’s dog sustained an injury and while waiting for surgery to repair the break the vet said she needed an immediate amputation. The guidance of the vet was that if they amputated above the lower leg she would not be able to run and jump, but if they left the lower leg she might be able to use a prosthetic. My daughter is wondering if she made the right decision to try for the prosthetic to give her dog better quality of life as she continually reinjured the bottom of the leg falling or bumping it (we are two weeks post surgery). Advice and opinion welcomed about how to proceed.

  3. Having to make the decision of having an amputation done on my dog has been so challenging and scary and leaving him at a 24-hour veterinarian clinic is something I was so against but after reading this article I am now thinking that would probably be the best situation for my dog after his amputation and we do have a 24-hour clinic in my area but this article has definitely helped me to have a better understanding of how things are going to be afterwards and it just overall made me feel better thank you so much!

  4. Great article, the tip we didn’t know beforehand, get in some puppy pads for the first night. Our dog had no bladder control for the first night because of all the medication. It’s tough but after the first night it gets easier and it’s worth it to know they are getting the best care!

    • Kathryn thank you so much for the nice comment. We are thrilled your dog is getting better. Thank you for sharing you pup’s story and your encouragement for others, it means so much! Keep in touch.


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