Is your dog limping suddenly? Or is it constantly whining and whimpering? Such tell-tale signs indicate that your dog may be in pain. If your dog is walking abnormally on one or more limbs, it could be because of a leg or paw injury. Now, how can such injuries happen?
Toe injury is a widespread medical issue in dogs. Dogs are constantly running, walking, or jumping, which puts a lot of pressure on their toes. Did you know that every toe of a dog consists of three bones?
Dogs have five toes on their front paws and four toes on their hind legs. Of the three small bones that make up each toe, the first two bones support most body weight. A restless dog and a dog that’s always on the run are more prone to toe injuries.
Dog Dislocated Toe – The Possible Causes
There are many ways a dog may end up dislocating its toe. Some of the most common ways are:
If you own a large-sized dog, then jumping is one of the most common reasons for a dislocated toe. This is especially true if your dog is jumping off a higher elevation. The pressure applied on the toes as it lands can drastically impact the bones. This may result in either dislocated toe, a sprain, or even a fracture.
Being stepped on
Small breed dogs are more prone to such cases. Most small breeds may get stepped on by their partners by mistake or even have a heavy object drop on their toes. When that happens, the dog may likely dislocate its toe since they are small in size.
Toe gets stuck
Sometimes your dog’s paws may get stuck between wooden deck boards, get entangled in loose threads, or even get stuck between a fence. As your dog tries to free itself from such entanglements, it may end up dislocating its toe.
Apart from the above-mentioned reasons, there are other causes of dog dislocated toe such as car accidents, due to a bite or even poor nutrition. Whatever the reasons, being a pet parent, your first step is to figure out the cause of toe dislocation and work on it. So, now that you’ve experienced a dog dislocated toe, what should you do next?
What To Do With a Dog Dislocated Toe
If you suspect that your dog may have a dislocated toe, the immediate action is to rush to the vet. However, if you think you cant take your dog to the vet ASAP, then here are few things you can do at home.
Administer an ice pack
A dog dislocated toe will mean that there is inflammation of the toe and your dog is in pain. A cold ice pack on the injured site will instantly relieve the pain. The ice pack will also help in reducing the swelling of the dislocated toe. Keep the ice pack on the toe for at least 20 minutes to reduce inflammation.
Wrap a bandage
Another home remedy that pet parents swear by is wrapping the dislocated toe with a bandage. Some pet parents even try to pop the dislocated toe back in place, but that is not recommended if you are inexperienced.
Wrapping the dislocated toe in a bandage can help in not worsening the problem before you visit the vet. Follow the steps below to safely cover the bandage around the dog’s dislocated toe.
Muzzle your dog as it may tend to bite when in pain regardless of its temperament. Make sure that your dog is comfortably laid before you start.
Check if the toe has any cuts before you wrap it up. If yes, then clean the wound using warm water or disinfecting solution.
Gently place cotton wool between the toes. Be careful not to move the dislocated toe forcefully. Thereafter, wrap the cotton wool around the paw and work your way up.
Use a stretch gauze bandage to finally wrap the paws. Begin wrapping from the bottom of the paws and work up till the legs. Make sure that you don’t wrap the bandage too tightly as it may stop blood circulation.
In few cases, a dog dislocated toe may be able to put the toe back in place on its own. Also, it also depends on how severe the dislocation is. A minor dislocated toe can be fixed at home, but in severe injuries, a vet should handle the problem.
Dog Sprained Vs. Dislocated Toe
A question that is very common among pet parents is how to differentiate between a sprained toe and a dislocated toe. In both cases, dogs may show the same symptoms, such as lameness, limping while walking, or continuously licking the paws.
However, a toe that is sprained is very different from the one that’s is dislocated in terms of its severity. A sprain is an injury or damage to the ligament that connects two bones. In contrast, a dislocated toe happens due to the complete tear of a collateral ligament. A sprained toe may lead to a dislocated toe if the right treatment is not given on time.
A sprain in dogs can occur if the dog stretched too much. This is commonly seen in athletic dogs who are always running about and exercising. Just like a dislocated toe, a sprained toe may also happen due to jumping, falling, slipping, or other daily activities.
Sprained toe in dogs can be categorized into three grades depending on the severity:
- Grade I: The toe joint is still functional since only a minor part of the ligament is torn. The dog is able to walk in this case.
- Grade II: The joint is functioning only partially in this case. A major part of the ligament is torn, and the dog may be able to walk but with lameness and much difficulty. The injured site may be swollen.
- Grade III: In this case, the ligament is completely torn or severely damaged through the bones are not fractured. The dog may not be able to put any pressure on the paw.
A dislocated toe, on the other hand, indicates that it is a severe injury. Your dog will not be able to walk because of the pain. The dislocated toe may appear to have moved on one side. Dislocation of the toe will usually happen between the joints that connect the three small bones in each toe.
Dog Dislocated Toe Treatment
If you take your dog’s dislocated toe to the clinic, the vet will analyze the severity of the dislocation through an X-ray. Generally, in the case of dog dislocated toe, there are three primary options available to deal with the issue:
- Primary surgical repair
- Digit amputation
- Casting or splinting
The vet will choose any of the above three options depending on the severity of the toe dislocation.
Broadly speaking, the treatment for dog dislocated toe can be classified under two categories:
If the dislocation of the toe is not very severe, the joint can be moved back to its original position through closed reduction. In this method, you don’t have to surgically open the area to treat dislocation.
This treatment involves a non-invasive procedure that can be easily done using general anesthesia. The use of anesthesia will relax the muscles, and your dog will not be in pain when the procedure takes place.
After the reduction process is complete, the vet will conduct a radiograph to check if the joint is placed back in the right position.
A surgical process is carried out if the ligaments surrounding the joints are severely damaged. It is an invasive proves where the vet will try to sew the joint capsule together so that it can support the joint once the joint is brought back to its original position.
The vet may even use washers, screws, pins to hold the broken joint in its original position. When a surgical procedure is carried out to treat dislocated toes, pet parents should take utmost care of the dog’s toe.
Dog Dislocated Toe Amputation
After your vet analyses the severity of your dog’s dislocated toe, she/he may even recommend digit amputation if the dislocation is severe. Now, what is digit amputation? Digit amputation is an invasive surgical procedure where the canine’s digit or a toe is completely removed. The toe of a dog is also known as a digit.
The process of toe amputation is a very complicated process. It involves cutting through bones, nerves, muscles, and skin and hence requires an expert vet surgeon to perform the surgery. There are many reasons digit amputation may be necessary. This is especially true when there is a benign or malignant tumor in the dog’s paws or toe.
If your vet suggests that your dog has to undergo a toe amputation, then there are certain factors/ risks you should consider and talk to the vet about them. For example, postoperative bleeding is also seen in the case of toe amputation in dogs.
It is an immediate cause of digit amputation where blood constantly oozes out from the surgical site. There have been instances where massive hemorrhaging has also taken place if proper care is not taken at the time.
If the bleeding occurs because a blood vessel was opened, then immediate treatment is required to protect the dog from blood loss. Post-surgical infections are also among if proper care is not taken.
The broken toe amputation of a dog involves the following steps:
Once the tests confirm that your dog needs a digit amputation, the vet will take your consent and make necessary arrangements for the procedure. Your dog will be prepared for operation by cleaning her paws thoroughly and removing any fur from the surgical site. Thereafter, the vet will administer anesthesia and put your dog to sleep.
Once the surgery is over, the wound is stitched, and the paw is cleanly bandaged. The vet may check your dog for excessive bleeding, pain, or hypothermia. Your dog may take some time to wake up from the anesthesia. The most important process after surgery is aftercare.
The vet will prescribe a few antibiotics and painkillers, which you should give without a miss. You will need to visit the vet again after two weeks generally to remove the sutures and dress the wound.
When at home, you have to make sure that your furry friend is given all the comfort there is. She should always wear an Elizabethan collar and rest in a well-padded area. The surgical site should not come across any hard objects or surfaces. Check if there is any bleeding on the site after you are home.
Dog toe amputation is not a life-changing process, and your friend may lead a normal and healthy life thereafter. Your dog will not find any difficulty in compensating for the loss of a digit. Proper diet and nutrition are crucial during recovery.
Dog Dislocated Toe Treatment Cost
There are several ways to treat a broken toe in dogs. However, before any diagnosis, the vet will first undertake an X-ray test to know the severity of the injury. Doing an X-ray will help in understanding the exact location of the dislocation and understand the type of fracture.
If a broken toe is not cared for immediately, then it may lead to a more serious condition later on. Your dog may even develop arthritis or severe infections in the long run. That will lead to more expenditure later on.
If the treatment for a dogs’ dislocated toe or broken toe demands surgery or an amputation, then the cost is very high. Any surgical process will ask for anesthesia, and that may cost about $800-$1200 altogether.
These expenses may increase if there are complications during the surgical process. Usually, you are allowed to take the dog home on the same day, so you don’t have to pay for overnight charges. But, in case of an infection, the vet may ask you to get your dog admitted.
Dog dislocated toe is a very common medical condition that can happen to any dog. But, the risks of a dislocated toe are higher in large breed dogs and athletic dogs.
If the dislocation is not severe, then your dog may be completely fine with some home treatment. But, a better option is to always visit a vet and get it checked.
Toe dislocation in dogs can become serious if left untreated. Therefore, always strive to give immediate remedy anytime your dog gets hurt.
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