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Two Tripawds’ Tough Amputation Recovery Stories (and Comebacks!)

If your new Tripawd is having a tough recovery, you’re not alone. Other members have been through difficult recovery situations too. Your Tripawd’s tough amputation recovery can feel hopeless right now, but as Akeela and Finn show, better days may be just around the corner.

Tripawds Tough Amputation Recovery Stories Give Hope, Education

Finn the Great Dane Tripawd
Finn is feeling good again.

Agreeing to amputation for your dog or cat requires us to make huge leaps of faith. Videos and pictures of happy Tripawds give us courage to start the journey, and good news on recovery milestones help us believe that our pet will be fine too. We must have that kind of inspawration around here. But sometimes, recoveries aren’t as easy as we had hoped.

For example, Tuxedo the Tripawd Cat had a tough time but bounced back. So did Bender the Bulldog. Two other canine members recently did too. Finn the Dane and Akeela the Tripawd Wolf Dog went through it at about exactly the same time. 

From Hard Days to Healing, Finn is Great Again!

In Finn’s blog, his mom shared her emotional rollercoaster during the first four weeks. Every day while he grew more uncomfortable and restless, she lost more sleep and felt uncertain about her decision to amputate.

Great Dane amputee dog
His regular vets didn’t believe he had phantom leg pain

The Hard Days and First Treatment

Well, no one said it’d be easy, right? Always when I think we’re on the right path and take a step forward, we go right back downhill. The last few days have been back to pure discomfort for my poor boy. It is constant up and down and readjusting, never fully resting. And watching him so uncomfortable is killing me.

She knew Finn was showing classic phantom pain signs but his veterinary team brushed off the idea. Twenty-five days later, things still looked bad, until Casey found a veterinarian who was also experienced in veterinary acupuncture. ” I can’t begin to tell you how amazing our appointment was. He took a lot of time with us, he explained things thoroughly and he believed me,” she wrote. 

tough Tripawd recovery story
A pain specialist helped Finn cope with phantom limb pain.

Eleven days after she and the new vet agreed on a pain management plan for Finn, he turned a corner. Five weeks after his surgery, things are looking up for the gentle giant. 

Acupuncture for PLP and Treatment Update

It has truly been night and day for Finn. We went from constant restlessness, readjusting, muscle spasms and whining, to zero of these symptoms in a week. I know it sounds really dramatic but it has been life-changing for him and for us. My stress and guilt levels have completely dropped knowing he will be OK and happy again.

Tripawd Akeela is Awesome Again

It’s scary when any dog undergoes amputation surgery, but especially when the patient is a senior dog and the recovery is hard. That’s exactly what happened to Akeela the 13-year old wolfdog. Her mom writes:

tough Tripawd amputation recovery
Akeela was 13 when she lost her leg.

(Almost) Four Weeks Post-Surgery

I’m really frustrated at this point, because the entire reason we moved forward with amputation was to keep her from being in pain. She is clearly in more pain and discomfort now than she ever was before the surgery. I want to do what’s best for her but it seems like I just don’t know what that is. I think I will forever be tormented by the sound of her yelps

After spending thousands of dollars on inconclusive tests to find out why Akeela was getting worse and more painful, things looked very, very dark. One vet thought she had spinal mets, even though a CT scan showed none. And another even suggested euthanasia if things didn’t improve.

Five weeks after her amputation surgery, Akeela’s mom was about to give up, when she happened to stop by the Tripawds Chat Room. Like most afternoons, we were there, ready to help answer questions or just, well, chat! And when we learned that Akeela lives an hour away from the world-famous veterinary pain management guru Dr. Robin Downing, we knew there was no better person to find out what was going on. Her mom agreed and made an appointment. 

tough Tripawd amputation recovery
Akeela and her mom are helping members today, tomorrow and always.

Nearly eight weeks later, things are much, much better. Between her primary care vet and Dr. Downing, Akeela’s pain issues are being addressed and slowly, her quality of life is improving. Is it a complete recovery? Nope, as her mom explains:

7.5 Weeks In

Although Akeela has to be medicated every 4 hours and likely will be for the rest of her life, I am lucky that she is still alive. I feel fortunate that she can go 90% of the time without being in pain. Akeela now only yelps once a day – maybe once every other day. She also stopped wetting the bed. Both major wins in my book.

Yes, she isn’t living the maximum quality of life that I was hoping for – or expecting, based on what the vets told me pre-surgery …. but she is alive, and her suffering is now at a minimum. Unless the Dog Gods throw us another unexpected curve ball, I finally feel like we have a shot at a successful recovery.

Not all Tripawd Recoveries are Smooth, But Don’t Give Up Hope!

Tripawd cat Fang
Fang says “Hang on, things get better!”

Akeela’s mom also said something very important that we want to make sure all Tripawds members know before surgery day: sometimes, Tripawds recoveries are difficult.

Even to this day, it is discouraging to see the success stories of other dogs… the ones where dogs recover after 2 weeks. It was aggravating that every veterinary professional I spoke with assured me pre-surgery that she would have a seamless recovery. It was overwhelmingly frustrating when nobody could tell me why Akeela wasn’t recovering correctly – and was left in unbearable pain for 2 weeks straight.

You never really hear about the dogs who don’t recover, or who have a challenging time with it. And that’s why I started this blog. Our journey was completely different than what I ever imagined. I think it’s important for people to know that not all dogs recover the same way. And having an amputation done may cause unexpected complications on other parts of their body. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a solution. And it definitely doesn’t mean that your only option is euthanasia.

You Can Prepare Members for Amputation Recovery

Stories like Akeela’s and Finn’s are why this community exists, and why the Tripawds member blogs are so important. The information in our network bridges the gap between the busy veterinarian and the overwhelmed client.

We are here to ensure that a pet parent is well-prepared for all of the ups and downs that can happen after amputation surgery. And it’s because of members like Akeela and Finn that we can share this information with newcomers — and give them hope when they need it the most. We are furever grateful for their taking time to share details about their tough Tripawd amputation recovery stories.

Whether your Tripawd had a tough amputation recovery story you want to share, or  you want to tell the world about a happy experience of life on three legs, we want to hear about it!

The Tripawds community is stronger and wiser because of the ups, downs, joys, and heartbreaks, hope and comfort shared by each and every one of us. Thank you for being a part of it.

6 thoughts on “Two Tripawds’ Tough Amputation Recovery Stories (and Comebacks!)”

  1. Our Greyhound Reno had an amputation three weeks ago. He is having phantom pains. Gabapentin, Carprofin, Amantadine. Still yelping probably 10 times a day. I burst into tears nearly every time. I feel defeated. Guilty. Hopeless. But he still loves his walks and his personality is just the same. He even plays a bit. I’m so confused. We are trying acupuncture next week. I just pray we find a solution.

  2. Hello Ilona.
    Like your dear dog, ours is going through a complete personality change. It’s as though he is a cardboard cut out of the dog we know and love.
    His story began just over 5 weeks ago (He is a Lurcher by the way). He managed to fracture his hind leg badly and dislocate his ankle. He was operated on with a partial fusion and a plate. However, it all went wrong from there. Due to insufficient skin he had most of the plate exposed. The bandages caused bandage sores that were open and painful. Finally he got an infection in the bone where the plate was. The only only suitable option at this point was amputation. He is now suffering because the wound dressing has caused two splits in his skin that were bleeding and oozing (he has typical thin Lurcher skin). So, we now have to go and have these redressed every other day. He no longer sleeps at night and whines and moans. Yet during the day he is quiet. Since the day of the accident we have not seen his personality return. The vet doesn’t think its due to pain – which leaves anxiety as the other option. Poor boy.
    I found reading your blog interesting – did your vet give you any indication on which medication might cause the issues you had?. I am wondering if it’s the same with our boy.
    I’m so pleased that eventually your boy pulled through and returned to you as his happy contented self again. We look forward to that day too. xx

    • Scoobs & family, I”m sorry to hear that things are ruff right now. Please get another opinion on the situation. When a dog gives signals like what you described, those behaviors are likely due to pain issues. Sometimes vets are not current on pain management and your boy could be missing out on important relief to help him get his life back. Please keep us posted in the Forums OK?

  3. I too debated about my decision to amputate my 8 1/2 yr old lab’s rear leg due to osteosarcoma. When he came back from a short vet stay after the amputation, he wasn’t himself. It didn’t seem to be pain, but he didn’t act as he normally would have and it didn’t improve for weeks. He was being medicated to pain and my husband & I questioned if the meds were causing the differences in his personality. After speaking to his vet who suggested we just stop all the meds, we instead started decreasing each med one at a time. Within in a short amount of time, you could start to see his personality emerge again. It took about a month to decrease all of his medications once we started, but we had our wonderful dog back! It’s now been 27 months since diagnosis and amputation and he’s now 11 and going strong.

    • Awwww Ilona thank you so so much for sharing your dog’s story! We are so hoppy that he is doing so much better. Feel free to send us a Tripawd Tuesday spotlight or chime into the Forums, we would love to get to know you two.


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