Thursday, June 16, 2011

Time Out

Dang greyhound toes!  It seems inevitable that all of my greyhounds must suffer at least one toe injury per lifetime.  I hope this is Riley's only time.  In the above photo, it is the toe on the far right.  The bright side is that this is the only time it has just been a sprain.  Jessie, Travis, Katie, and Reagan's toe injuries were all dislocations with torn collateral ligaments.

I was a newbie with Jessie and treated it conservatively.  On its own, a greyhound toe never constructs enough scar tissue to make up for lost ligaments.  I eventually had to amputate it.

Travis' toe dislocation came next.  I had learned from my last mistake and took him to Auburn University immediately to see Dr. Rob Gillette, the head of the Sports Medicine Department of the vet school and huge greyhound fan.  He employed an old track trick of injecting the toe with a schleroising agent that stimulates scar tissue to form.  The toe is splinted for a short period of time and then the dog is worked hard a couple of times to break up the scar tissue and ensure that the toe is not set too rigid.  We had to do this twice, but ultimately Travis' toe held up perfectly for the rest of his life.

Katie dislocated her toe at the age of ten. Since she was older, retired, and neurological, I did not want to fool with splints or long recoveries as it would not have worked well for Katie.  I had it amputated immediately and she bounced back as expected.  If she had been several years younger, it probably would have been a big mistake as her toes were giving her all sorts of problems near the end, but luckily the amputation worked well for the last two years of her life.

Reagan's dislocated toe required surgery which my vet just happens to have a specialized interest in greyhounds, orthopedic surgery, and toes.  Most small animal vets would never attempt to sew collateral ligaments back together, but that is exactly what Dr. Toby did for Reagan.

Waiting for the vet is much better with a bully stick.

So my adventure in greyhound toes brings me full circle and we are going to go the conservative route with Riley.  Her toe joints are intact, tight, and have normal range of motion.  The only hint of something wrong was some swelling and a little pain at the P1/P2 joint (the main knuckle).  Dr. Toby says to give her 4 - 6 weeks off from tight turns and weaving.  He said it was fine to work her in straight lines so it sounds like a lot of walking, hiking, jogging, and biking over the next few weeks.  I am glad that I can keep her muscles fit while the toe heals.

Remember to keep toe nails short!