Thursday, July 22, 2010

Short Nails

Katie dislocated another toe. Two years ago, I had the first one chopped off 2 days after it happened. The collateral ligaments were obviously torn and the affected toe was on her left rear leg, the same leg she has a neurological deficit in. Katie simply could not afford to not be using that leg so it was easy for me to decide to amputate the problem toe. It was a good decision and she was back to normal in less than 2 weeks and has been busy ever since.

It probably sounds so strange to non-greyhound dog owners, but toe injuries are fairly common in active greyhounds (but things like bad hips and knees are very rare). In fact, Katie's recent dislocated toe is the 6th one I have dealt with since adopting my first greyhound in 1993. However, this time the toe ligaments were not torn. Despite being totally grossed out, I was able to pop it back into place with little discomfort to Katie. The toe didn't even swell up and she was immediately sound again..... but then it happened again immediately. Both times occurred indoors when she was not doing anything rambunctious. This happened right as I was trying to leave for the Perry agility trial. Since the toe was popping back into place, I hoped that a bandage would hold it into place and maybe it would not happen again.

The hubby reported no problems the 3 days I was gone. I took Katie in the backyard to do her rehab exercises and it dislocated again immediately. And then again! Dang it! It appeared a second amputation was on the horizon. I discussed surgically fixing the toe with my vet and he felt that being 12 years old and neurological that amputation was a better fit.

I scheduled the surgery. Despite the different bandages I tried, Katie seemed to be more uncomfortable than comfortable so I decided to leave it unwrapped since I was not trying to save it at that point. I also clipped her nails.

A couple of days went by and she had not dislocated her toe again. I started to hesitate about amputating. I stopped being careful with her, worked on rehab exercises, and even jumped her. No toe dislocation so I happily cancelled the surgery.

The moral of the story is to keep your dog's nails short. I am embarrassed to admit that I think a long nail was the cause. Normally, I trim the seniors once every 2 weeks and the brats weekly, but had probably let it go an extra week. I am really anal about keeping nails trimmed short, so I am appalled that Katie literally dislocated a toe walking through the kitchen possibly due to a long nail. The thing is that I have seen nails much longer than the ones you see in the photos below. So trim those nails religiously!

For those that have never seen a dislocated toe, the first photo is all of the toes in a normal position. The second photo shows the toe farthest to the right dislocated between the P1 and P2 bones.