Swine, SRC and poultry lameness

Limb amputations

Limb amputations are effective in removing the problem efficiently and in restoring comfort. However, horses and cattle are not able to stand or move with just three limbs very easily and amputation is not an option in these species unless a prosthetic limb or boot is designed to permit weight-bearing. Prostheses are challenging to manage and use should be restricted.

Small ruminants and smaller camelids are often good candidates for limb amputation if other therapies are not possible. Most limb amputations in these species are performed due to traumatic injuries rather than bone neoplasia.

Limb amputations should only be performed after the animal has been stabilized. Shock, dehydration, anemia and/or infection should be treated before attempting surgery. The other limbs should be carefully evaluated to ensure they will be able to withstand the extra weight bearing forces.

Limb amputations do require a dedicated owner to assume the responsibility of appropriate postoperative care. Complications include contralateral limb breakdown, prolonged recumbency, persistent lameness, poor milk production, and poor quality of life.


Indications for and outcomes of limb amputation in goats and sheep. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2018;252:860–863


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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.