Owners with injured pets now have the option of getting their four-legged friends prosthetic limbs, rather than amputating an entire leg.
Dr Megan Kelly, a vet at Holisticvet, an animal wellness and rehabilitation clinic in Diep River, a prosthetic limb can increase the lifespan of a pet that would otherwise have to walk on only three legs.
“Prosthetics are a new side to physical rehabilitation for animals. It’s regularly done in the UK, Europe and the US,” said Kelly.
Kelly said during the past year she has been contacted by at least eight clients wanting prosthetics for their animals. But, she says, unfortunately, they were all too late.
“The problem is that they call me after the vet has amputated, and then it is usually too late.
“Vets are taught to amputate as high as possible and when we attach the prosthetic, we need some bone to attach it to,” said Kelly.
Dogs, cats, bunnies and even horses with fractures, ligament ruptures and arthritis can have prosthetic limbs custom made for them, if their conditions allow.
“Animals can cope quite easily on three legs, but the over-extension of the joints on the legs opposite to the amputated leg cause pain and discomfort.
“They can also suffer from spondylosis and neck problems,” said Kelly.
A new limb for man’s best friend can cost up to R9 000, and the entire procedure can cost up to R16 000.
“It depends on the size of the dog. If the dog’s on medical aid, some companies cover prosthetic surgery because it also decreases the cost of treating arthritis.
“With other animals, the prices vary according to the size of the animal,” said Kelly.
To prevent animals from needing prosthetic limbs, Kelly advises that pet owners keep their animals strong through maintaining a regular exercise routine.
“If your animal has problems like hip dysplasia or a limp, get it seen to. Pain killers don’t treat arthritis.”
She said owners needed to focus on strengthening their animals in order to have fewer problems with painful joints.