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What to Expect: Two Weeks After Amputation Surgery for Dogs or Cats

It’s natural to wonder what to expect two weeks after amputation surgery for a dog or cat. That’s about the time we get anxious to see our pet’s old personality return. We might also wonder if we made a mistake.

The problem with predicting the “average recovery” is that every cat or dog’s amputation surgery recovery is different. Recoveries are unique, just like our pets.

We wish we had a crystal ball to show you exactly what to expect, but we don’t. However, after 15-plus years of actively being here at Tripawds, here’s what we can tell you about amputation recovery at two weeks out.

Here’s 5 Things to Expect Two Weeks After Amputation Surgery for a Dog or Cat

Tripawd Bellona after amputation recovery.
Bellona after amputation recovery.

Every pet’s healing story is a little different. Some pets start moving around and eating way sooner than others, while some aren’t ready for that for at least another week. But in general, this is what we see happen during those first two weeks after suergery.

1. You wonder “Why is my Tripawd recovering so slowly?”

Amputation surgery is always harder on the pet parent than the animal. Our expectations are the biggest hurdle to a smooth recovery. Maybe we search for signs of hope by watching Tripawd YouTube videos, or other three-legged animals on social media. Then we wonder why our new amputee isn’t doing the same things those dogs and cats are doing.

Wait a minute! Remember that those animals are not your animal. It’s so important not to compare our pet’s recovery to others. Your pet will get better, on their own timeline. So throw out your expectations and practice learning how to live in the moment. Be More Dog! as we say around here. Getting into the right frame of mind is the best thing you can do during recovery.

2. There might be a painful setback

Even the best pain management might not completely control post-amputation pain in cats and dogs. A dog or cat might have seemed like they were recovering just fine, then from out of nowhere, they start showing phantom pain signs like random yelping and crying, or even walking backwards.

A good vet will prescribe 10-12 days of pain control after surgery. Then they suggest taking a “wait and see” approach to monitor the Tripawd’s pain levels. But some pets need more time to get their pain level down. So if your pet seems to be hurting after pain medications are stopped, let your vet know immediately. A week or two of additional pain control might be necessary.

Three legged cat Nockmarr is making progress.
Nockmarr is making progress.

3. Playful energy starts showing up.

If there are no signs of pain, another thing you can expect two weeks after amputation surgery is that most pets are feeling good enough to try their old routines, like leaping up onto the couch, or climbing the cat tree. If your Tripawd isn’t showing any pain signals, you can give them a little more freedom to roam inside. Once your vet clears your dog for activity, re-start those outside walks just a few minutes at a time. Take things very slow or you could be in for some setbacks.

4. You may think your Tripawd is depressed.

Many years ago if you had said “My Tripawd is depressed,” we would have said “No, that’s just pain medication side effects. Dogs don’t get depressed!” After all, there was no clinical diagnosis for doggie depression then, and there still isn’t now.

But just because cat and dog depression hasn’t been scientifically proven yet, doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. If you suspect your pet is depressed, read this article. Then take careful notes about their behavior. Let your vet know as soon as you can. The behavior could be something as simple as boredom, or maybe needing pain control for a little bit longer.

5. You start to wonder if your pet will ever be the same.

It’s completely normal to think that your pet’s life is never going to be as good as it once was. Humans have a hard time with amputation for a cat or dog, because we are in mourning over our lost routines like long walks, beach time, and other activities that required stamina and strength.

You may regret your decision to amputate at this point. If so, don’t lose hope! Your feelings are normal, everyone has them. Remember that our pets absorb our emotions, so try to stay hopeful.

If you want to know that better days are possible, just check out the Tripawds Quality of Life Survey results. Almost all say that once recovery is over, any feelings of regret disappear.

Bonus Tip: Rehab Therapy Makes a Difference!

We hope this helps you know what to expect two weeks after amputation surgery for a dog or cat. One more thing: please get your Tripawd signed up with an animal rehabilitation therapist. Tripawds who are under the care of a rehab / physio therapist tend to have better recoveries than those who are not. Plus, the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit. You’ve got nothing to lose!

Forum Topics About What You Can Expect Two Weeks After Amputation Surgery for Dogs and Cats

We combed the Tripawds Discussion Forums for a variety of examples of what amputation surgery recovery looks like, two weeks later. Here are just a few of hundreds of posts about this topic:

See all Tripawds Discussion Forums topic titles with “Two Weeks” in the subject line.

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