Here's an interesting question that came in to my post on toe amputation surgery:
My retired racing Greyhound, now 11+ years old has had terrible corns for the past six years. There is one corn on the left front, one on the left rear and one on the front right. All are on the third toe. Several years ago he had surgery on the front toe to cut out the corn. The corn came back. He has had the corns hulled several times but they always come back. I've used duct tape, hydrating, paw wax and filing the corn. All it seems to do is remove the hard callous. The corn always comes back. The left rear corn is the smallest (on the surface) but causes him the most trouble. He can barely walk and when he does it is with a limp and for a limited distance. I would really like to give him some comfort in his old age and am thinking of either having the left rear corn surgically removed, again or, having the third toe amputated. If he has the toe amputated, should the amputation go back as far as possible and, will it put undue pressure on his other toes on the left foot or even the right foot?
Answer from Dr. Riggs:
Corns or keratomas are common in Greyhounds. There are two schools of thoughts about how they get them. One theory is from trauma from sand or other foreign material from the track. The other is thought to occur from a papilloma virus, similar to one that can cause warts in dogs. They have isolated some papilloma viruses from these but not all, so we don't know if there is a cause and effect.
Regardless of the cause, the treatment is to to core these out surgically. There are various methods, from using a biopsy punch to using a dental elevator or scalpel. The problem with these is up to 40% can reoccur. The key is deep surgical removal to get the entire corn.
As far as amputation of the toe, that is used as last resort, but dogs compensate very well normally when a single toe is removed. Usually the toe is removed at the level of the next joint.
Ask your vet about what is appropriate. He/she will be able to help you determine the best treatment for your dog. Every case is different.
other posts by Dr Riggs
Toe Amputations for Cats and Dogs
Ask Laura: the impact of toe amputation surgery
Ask Laura: dog weight bearing toe amputation appropriate or not?
Ask Laura: infected ingrown toe nail on cat
Ask Laura: to amputate or not to amputate the cat's toe, that is the question
Corns on a greyhound's toe: Dr Riggs discusses
Dr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center with his wife Nancy, their two dogs Boo and Maggie, and two cats Franklin and Speeder. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and enjoys travel and photography.