Opinions on quality of life for a rabbit after amputating a hind leg? My little old man Lahi very suddenly developed a huge growth on his right hind foot toe last week. I immediately called the vet to make an appointment, and that was today. In the week since, the growth has swollen and the ulceration on top has spread. A second one also appeared on his knee. I’ve just left him at the hospital, they’re going to biopsy the one on his knee and get histopathology results to see what it is. Based on the rapid appearance and growth patterns, they’re expecting it to be malignant. If the results are benign, they want to amputate the toe. If the results are malignant, and further testing shows it hasn’t spread further, they’ll want to amputate the entire leg. And I just... I don’t know if I can do that to him??? I’ve always said that I prioritize their quality of life over longevity. It would be selfish to force them to continue living just so I could keep them a little longer, if they aren’t happy. Lahi is 13 years old, his body has been throwing problem after problem at him for YEARS now. We’ve always been able to successfully treat whatever it is, and have him recovered and bouncing happily around again. So he’s 13, I don’t have any idea how long he might live provided nothing else happens to him. He’s actually REALLY healthy for his age; he’s got a small heart murmur, slight cataracts, mildly creaky joints, greying nose, some missing teeth, and that’s pretty much it for signs of old age. The vet even commented today, his missing teeth seem to not be affecting him at all, he’s got good muscle tone, nice fat stores around his chest... I would fully expect him to crack 15 years old IF nothing else happened. So let’s say it’s malignant. Let’s say it hasn’t spread. Let’s say I approve the amputation. That’s a MAJOR surgery, with a huge recovery. That’s tremendous amounts of pain and distress. And once it’s over, and he’s healed, that’s all the pain and problems associated with any amputation. And that’s extra stress and weight on his remaining hind limb, when his joints are already creaky. And that’s a major loss of normal movement and ability. In animal welfare we say that the ability to perform highly motivated behaviours is extremely important for good welfare... what kind of life is it for him if he can’t run and jump properly? Can’t climb and zoom around? Their condo is built with ramps and tunnels and even if I remake it so it’s safer for him... he LOVES being up high, Lahi and Delilah both get really distressed when I take the ramps away and don’t let them access the higher shelves. I took the ramps away when Delilah had a surgery and then had to give them back because her agitation over not having the ramps was more likely to hurt her than climbing the ramps would. But then let’s say I don’t decide to let them amputate. Let’s say that I decide that, at 13, it’s not worth the amount of pain and suffering and loss of ability just for the chance that he gets another couple years. Quality over quantity, right? And there’s nothing to say that he wouldn’t immediately get hit by some new medical disaster. But that means palliative care while the malignant cancer slowly kills him. The vet talked to me last year about chemo and radiation—my initial stance was that I would put him through that under no circumstances whatsoever, I’ve seen humans go through that and it was horrific, I don’t care if there’s a chance of beating the cancer, the long-term intense suffering required to get that chance is not humane to inflict on an innocent, non-consenting animal. The DVM assured me that the veterinary community feels the same, and that animal chemo and radiation is intended to be palliative, not therapeutic. The goal is only to slow down the cancer and maximize quality of life, not cure the cancer. So that’s good, right?? But a slow death by cancer isn’t any better. And rabbits are notoriously good at hiding pain and distress. And can I trust myself to make the right call and let him go when he’s reached a point of suffering and distress? Can I trust that I won’t try and delude myself into keeping him with me a little longer?? I don’t know what to do all I want is my little boy to be happy for as long as he can.