Pet Toe Amputation Surgery

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure that you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is toe amputation surgery, and why would my pet need it?

Toe amputation (sometimes called digit amputation) is the complete removal of a pet’s toe. Reasons your pet might need a toe amputation include:

  • Traumatic injury
  • Severe infection that has not responded to other treatment
  • A tumor that your veterinarian has examined and determined needs to be removed
  • A physical abnormality that your pet is born with that is reducing the quality of their life
  • Amputation will reduce pain and stop the spread of infection or disease.

Will my pet have trouble walking after toe amputation surgery?

Most pets recover fully without having their gait impacted. However, pets may experience temporary lameness while they heal from surgery. Rarely, pets may have a permanent lameness, and this is most common when a weight-bearing digit is removed (one of the central toes).

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.
Water – Your pet may have water until the surgery.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Pet Toe Amputation Surgery

Toe amputation removes a pet’s damaged or diseased toe.

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease the risk of potential infection.

The surgeon will then amputate the toe then, suture and bandage the wound.

Caring for Your Pet After a Toe Amputation

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E-collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e-collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection or dehiscence (opening of the incision).

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
  • Resume regular feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example, boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.

Give all medications as directed

  • Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure that they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Check surgical incision or bandage at least daily for the first week

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • Typically, patients will leave the hospital with a bandage in place. If bandaged, it’s important to keep the bandage clean and dry. Make sure you use a plastic bag or some other protective barrier if your dog goes outside, and remove the barrier when back inside.
  • Monitor the bandage twice daily for signs of wetness or blood coming through the bandage. If noted, please contact Anicira for instructions. At discharge, we will give you instructions on returning for bandage changes.
  • Once unbandaged, monitor the incision for increased redness, swelling, discharge or pulling apart of the incision.

Other shaved areas

  • Your pet may have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed.
  • These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
  • If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

  • Ensure your pet is supervised around all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • Dogs should be walked outside on a leash to urinate and defecate. No off-leash activity during the entire recovery period.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

If your pet has external sutures or staples, schedule an appointment for removal in 10-14 days

  • Your pet may need to be sedated for the removal procedure, so please plan accordingly.

How long does it take for a pet to recover from toe amputation surgery?

In most cases, your pet can walk and stand immediately after they have awoken from the anesthesia. Your pet may experience temporary lameness after surgery that usually subsides within two weeks.

Rare but serious complications of pet toe amputation surgery

Complications from a toe amputation surgery are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Infection of the surgical site
  • Discharge at the surgical site
  • Dehiscence of the surgical site – both sides of the surgical site should be touching.
  • Watch for any gapping.
  • Delayed healing – please ensure your pet cannot lick their foot while it is healing by keeping their e-collar on
  • Temporary or permanent lameness

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression, or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours