Updated 13 March 2014

Animals with prosthetic limbs

It's not only humans who can replace lost limbs with prosthetics – animals can too! See how these animals have been given a second chance.

Until a few years ago, there wasn't much hope for these and other disabled animals of ever leading normal lives again. But thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, and the small but growing field of animal prosthetics, it's now possible for pets and farm animals with missing limbs to walk, run and romp on all four legs.

OrthoPets, in Denver, manufactures prosthetics and braces for about 1,200 animals worldwide each year. Most are dogs, but they've also worked with cats, cows, birds, llamas, horses, even an orangutan. 

The external prosthetics are built to "last a lifetime" by using tough industrial grade plastic. To combat chafing and irritation the devices are lined with special colour-changing foam that turns black, alerting owners if a problem arises. 

For an animal to be outfitted with an artificial limb, which is attached with straps, front legs must still have the elbow joint and part of the radius and ulna. The knee joint, as well as part of the tibia and fibula, must be present on rear legs. 

Prosthetics for cats and dogs cost between R6 0000 and R10 000. The price for larger animals, such as cows, llamas and horses, can be up to R21 000.

Credit for info and pics: All thanks to
  • Oscar the cat with prosthetic hind legs
    Oscar the cat had his hind legs severed by a combine harvester, but can walk again after being fitted with prosthetic limbs in a world-first operation. Oscar was given a pair of artificial limbs by veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick, using a technique developed by a University College London team.
    Oscar the cat with prosthetic hind legs
  • Fuji the dolphin with a prosthetic tailfin
    In 2002, a female bottlenose dolphin, estimated to be 37-years-old and called Fuji lost 75% to disease. She was rescued and taken to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan. Her prosthetic tail was custom made by the tyre company Bridgestone using the same material used for Formula One race car tyres and it was reinforced with artificial bone made of carbon-fibre.
    Fuji the dolphin with a prosthetic tailfin
  • Yu Chan the turtle with prosthetic flippers
    Yu, a female loggerhead sea turtle, was pulled from a Japanese fishing net that washed ashore on the southern island of Shikoku in 2008. Her front flippers were mutilated from a shark attack and she was riddled with bites. Yu was fitted with 26 different prosthetics over the years, but they either fell off quickly or caused the turtle pain. In February 2013 the Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe, Japan, unveiled the latest artificial flippers made from rubber and wetsuit material.
    Yu Chan the turtle with prosthetic flippers
  • Motala the elephant on prosthetics
    A 48-year-old female elephant named Motala walks on her newly attached prosthetic leg in August 2009 at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang province, north of Bangkok. Motala’s front left leg was maimed after she stepped on a land mine at the Myanmar-Thai border.
    Motala the elephant on prosthetics
  • Macho the horse with a prosthetic leg
    An Indian horse nicknamed Macho, fitted with an artificial leg, enjoys a meal in Bombay in June 2003. Doctors amputated the horse’s front right leg and gave him a plaster of Paris prosthetic after an animal welfare group found him on a highway bleeding from a leg wound.
    Macho the horse with a prosthetic leg
  • Hoppa with his prosthetic legs
    Hoppa, a 4-year-old mixed-breed dog born without front legs, uses a prosthetic device to walk outside in the central Israeli city of Tel Aviv
    Hoppa with his prosthetic legs
  • Pay de Limon with his prosthetic limbs.

    A dog named Pay de Limon (Lemon Pay) runs fitted with two front prosthetic legs at Milagros Caninos rescue shelter in Mexico Cit
    <p>Pay de Limon with his prosthetic limbs.</p>

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