Risks of Lumpectomy on a Dog's Leg

Written by rena sherwood
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Risks of Lumpectomy on a Dog's Leg
German shepherds can be prone to Von Willebrand's disease. (german shepherd image by Aleksander from Fotolia.com)

Lumpectomies are surgeries to remove lumps or lump-like masses on a body. Dogs can get lumps in many areas of the body, but often get them on the legs. The lumps can be on or below the skin. The veterinarian will want to remove the lump to analyse it and see if it's cancerous. Although lumpectomies are considered low-risk surgeries, there are always risks when putting a dog under the knife.

Blood Loss

Dogs on blood-thinning medication like Coumadin (Wafarin) or dogs with blood-clotting disorders like Von Willebrand's disease will be at high risk of dying of blood loss from surgery. Dog breeds prone to Von Willebrand disease include the German shepherd, the Doberman pinscher and the golden retriever, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. There is also a minor risk that the lump may be attached to a major blood vessel, such as the femoral artery in the hind legs or the radial artery in the forelegs. The vet would have to risk cutting the artery and then trying to stitch it up before the dog lost too much blood.


All surgeries open up a dog to the risk of getting an infection underneath the skin. This risk carries on beyond the surgery into post-operative care. Since a dog's legs are usually easy for a dog to reach with his mouth, he may try to chew off all bandages or stitches, which can make the dog more likely to get an infection. After leg lumpectomies, a dog needs to be as inactive as possible, but dogs used to being active may have considerable problems adjusting to the new routine.


The dog may have to have her leg or toes amputated during the initial surgery or during a later surgery if a lump is found to be malignant. This amputation is necessary to save the dog's life.

Bad Reactions to Anesthesia

Some dogs, such as greyhounds and whippets, often have bad reactions to the anesthisa used during the lumpectomy. They may vomit while unconscious and then choke. But there are tests to see if a dog is prone to bad reactions to anaesthesia so that precautions can be taken during the surgery.

Cosmetic Risks

Surgery on a dog's leg can lead to permanent scarring or discolouration of the leg hair. The dog's leg will need to be shaved for the lumpectomy. Sometimes the dog's hair will not grow back the same colour as before the surgery. The hair also may not grow back for months or maybe not at all. These are only cosmetic problems, but they are enough to get a dog disqualified from the show ring.

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