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Broken Toe - Need Advice

Guest CharlesTheGreyt

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Guest CharlesTheGreyt

Hi all,


Looking for some advice. I'm sure I'll get a lot of "I told you so" responses, and I realize now that I should have acted differently. Anyway, hindsight is 20/20, right?


Charlie fractured his toe in December 2014. It was unfortunate circumstances - we had just dropped him off at a greyhound boarding home for the holidays, and after zooming around off-leash for 5 or 10 minutes, he started to hobble around on three legs with his front right paw lifted up. We were there when it happened, and we couldn't be sure what happened - they move so fast! Note that we had only adopted him 2 months prior to this, and this is our first grey. He is now 4 years old. We thought maybe he sprained something, and asked the owner of the boarding facility to monitor him and take him to the vet if necessary while we were out of town visiting family for the holidays. She herself owns 5 or 6 greyhounds, so I trusted her to take good care of him. He did in fact go to the vet, but no xrays were taken until we returned home about a week later. He had fractured the middle bone of the outermost toe of his front right paw.


At the time, we had been taking Charlie to a vet in our neighbourhood. With this new diagnosis, we decided to switch to a clinic on the other side of the city and see a vet that volunteers with a local greyhound adoption group. Unfortunately, that particular vet was away on holiday for the first month of this ordeal, so we only started seeing him in February. As soon as the broken toe was diagnosed, the substitute vet recommended splinting it. Hard to say if the greyhound vet would have advised otherwise had he not been on vacation. Yes, I know that splinting is often not recommended, and I did a lot of reading up on this at the time, and we decided to go ahead with it as per the vet's recommendation. Charlie had the splint on for about 3 months, and when we took follow-up xrays a few months after the incident, the break looked like it had healed well. It took Charlie a while to get used to using that leg again and build up muscle. He had some sores, but they healed after a couple weeks.


By the summer time, Charlie was walking limp-free again! We were thrilled. We were very careful though not to let him run in case the toe was still healing. We did notice though that Charlie would limp on gravelly roads and uneven surfaces - perhaps this hit a pressure point on that bad toe. We took him back to the vet to discuss this observation, and they said they would send his last set of x-rays to an orthopaedic surgeon to review. The surgeon said it looked like the bone had healed well, and that it should not be causing him problems. We decided to take him home and monitor him, and take him back in if the limp worsened.


We moved in June, and started putting socks on him at night since he sleeps on the ground floor and we sleep in the basement. I'm a light sleeper and his claws on the hardwood would keep me up at night! As soon as we tried putting a sock on the bad paw, we noticed he was uncomfortable, so we only used his "stealth socks" for the other 3 paws.


His limp has gotten slowly worse again. He still loves going for walks, but depending on the day we have to make his walks shorter than we'd like. Our vet downtown referred us to an orthopaedic surgeon, and we have an upcoming appointment in 2 weeks. I was speaking to an acquaintance over the weekend who owns 6 greyhounds (and who has owned many others over the years), and she suggested going to her vet outside the city who is very experienced with greyhounds and who could offer the surgery at a lower price than the vets downtown. She also thought that going to an orthopaedic surgeon was a little extreme for such a small procedure. We have paid so much already this past year on vet costs... if this upcoming consultation with the orthopaedic surgeon is overkill, then i would be happy to cancel it! I didn't actually realize until I spoke with her that most vets do amputations like that themselves, it doesn't necessarily need to be done by an orthopaedic surgeon.


At this point, if I could chop off that toe myself and be guaranteed that it would stop the pain for Charlie, I would!


I am fully in support of removing that toe, especially because I've heard since greys bear most of their weight on their 2 middle toes, losing an outside toe isn't that big of a deal. My ONLY concern is that what if it isn't just the toe causing him problems? I would like some sort of confirmation that he doesn't have any other issues (ligament, etc.) before removing the toe. My biggest fear is removing the toe, and having him still limp. My friend with greyhounds (the same one who thought the ortho appt was overkill) recommended seeing a rehab specialist or chiropractor before doing surgery. Anyone have any experience with this, or other advice to offer?


Thank you!

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I've had a couple of greys with broken toes. The one who broke an inside toe (weight bearing) was the most troublesome, but even for that I didn't go to an orthopedic specialist! So yes, I think that might be overkill :) If it were my dog I would take him to the grey savvy vet and see what they have to say. They should be able to remove the toe if necessary and check to make sure nothing else is going on without paying the specialist prices. Good luck, greyhound toes can be a pain :)

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Yes. Check for a corn first. Often a disturbed gait will make one come up. Wet down all the pads on the foot and look for a small circular area of harder, horn-like material. It may be sticking up out of the pad, or out the side, or it may be flat. If you're on Facebook, there is a whole group called Greyhounds With Corns that has a ton of people experienced in dealing with those buggers.


If the fracture has healed properly and completely there should be no need for surgery. You would be subjecting your dog to needless pain, plus the risk of anesthesia. Have you tried pain medications or nsaids? Adding in some glucosamine/chondroitin? Having him wear padded boots on walks?


Amping the toe is a relatively easy, in-office procedure for most vets. It would only need to be done by a specialist if there was involvement further up his leg (the toe bones actually extend up to the dog's "wrist" area). I've had two greyhounds that have had it done (one for a broken toe and one for a bone infection) and neither had any issues following the surgery. There was a two-three week healing period and then they were mostly good to go.

Chris - Mom to: Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom, Lilly

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