How a Dog Prosthetic Changes Lives

A prosthesis for a dog or cat can help a dog live a longer and more active life.  The use of a prosthetic can help a pet stand naturally and lower the risk for chronic aches and pains. Before you decide whether an artificial limb is right for your pet, here is everything you need to know about canine prosthetic limbs:

Dog Prosthetics Explained

A prosthetic limb allows amputee dogs the same mobility and freedom they experienced when they had all four limbs. A prostheses isn’t necessary for every amputee dog. Many dogs adjust very quickly to a life as a tripod. However a dog on three legs shifts their balance, weight, and supports their body very differently which can place stress on the remaining healthy legs over time. This puts tripawds and three legged animals at a greater risk for developing chronic pain and injuries..

What is a Dog Prosthetic?

A prosthetic leg for a dog is designed to replace the missing limb and allow the dog to move and stand normally. Every dog’s amputation is unique, so their artificial limb needs to be custom made to fit them perfectly. There are different types of dog prosthetics, including dog prosthetics for back legs, front legs, and even prosthetic paws for dogs. 

Pet’s with front limb amputations are more likely to need a front leg prosthetic. SInce dogs and cats support 60% of their weight in their front legs, a missing front limb places a lot of additional stress on the remaining healthy leg. 

The Benefits of a Dog Prosthetic

Artificial limb for an amputee dog

A prosthetic limb helps improve a pet’s quality of life and continue to live an active lifestyle. Here are a few other benefits of pet prosthetics:

  • Prosthetics can bear weight and allow pets to walk naturally
  • Provide support and stability
  • Allow amputee pets to distribute their weight evenly and remain balanced
  • Improves pet mobility in amputees
  • Prevent injury caused by imbalance or uneven weight distribution
  • Durable and custom made to perfectly fit your dog’s stump

There are countless ways that your dog can benefit from a prosthetic, but the most important conversation is the one you have with your veterinary. Your vet can help determine if an artificial limb is the right decision for your pet and how likely they are to do well on a prosthetic.

Can Cats Use Prosthetics?

Cat prosthetic leg can help a three legged cat to maintain their independence and improve mobility. Although the use of prosthetic limbs in cats is less common than dogs, it’s still a possible solution for helping amputee cats walk post surgery. 

How to Choose Between a Dog Wheelchair and a Prosthetic Limb

Pets missing limbs can improve mobility with either a dog wheelchair or a canine prosthetic. So how do you choose which would be best?

Dog Wheelchairs for Pets with Missing Limbs

Meeka Rear Amputee Dog Wheelchair

A wheelchair can be used on it’s own or combined with the use of an orthopedic brace or limb. Dog wheelchairs assist amputee pets by supporting them to help them maintain their balance and reduce the weight placed on their remaining limbs. Additionally, a dog mobility cart helps pets stand properly while fully supported which greatly reduces strain. 

Pets can also use their wheelchair during rehabilitation and as they heal. Which means that many dogs and cats can use the wheelchair as they wait for the right time to get their prostheses. Continued wheelchair support may be needed even after the dog receives their prosthetic and gets used to using it. 

Prosthetics Limbs for Dogs

Dogs of all ages and sizes can benefit from the use of a prosthetic. Pet parents and their commitment are key to the success of their pet’s prosthetic limb. For a dog to be successful they need to use their device every day. Through repeated practice and hard work with a rehab specialist, a dog will learn how to walk normally using their artificial limb. 

Be aware that every dog’s experience will be different and they will need a different amount of time to adjust to their prostheses. It will take time for a dog or cat to build up the strength and comfort level to rely on their prosthetic. As they first adjust your dog will likely use the brace for short periods of time. As they adjust they can slowly build up to full time use. Additionally, you must wait to use a prosthetic until the pet has completely healed.  A prosthetic device should be selected only after the Vet has evaluated the pet’s range of motion and can confirm that the device will improve mobility without causing additional injury and that the orthopedic device will benefit the patient long term.

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  1. My weimaraner, Luke, has a complete amputation of his front leg. Is he still a candidate for a prosthetic limb? He has no residual leg remaining.