Jack Loses a Toe
Jack has lost a toe…no it hasn’t been misplaced, it’s been amputated.
Our story begins a few months ago when we started taking Jack to a dog gym/vet who offered water treadmill therapy. His hind end has been getting weaker and our regular vet suggested some additional strengthening. Jack’s not a huge fan of water, but we knew that the treadmill therapy would be good for him.
The vet also suggested some of those toe grip things – small plastic tubes you put on your dog’s toes to help them grip slippery surfaces better. Since we have hardwood floors at our house and Jack does slip on them, I thought they would be a good idea.
Within a few days of putting on the grips, Jack started to lick at his right paw – specifically the ‘baby’ toe. This went on for a day or two until I decided that the grip must be bothering him and removed it from that toe. He continued licking that foot and occasionally his left foot. I check out all his toes and the grips and didn’t see anything wrong but after another day or two, I just removed all of the grips.
Meanwhile, Jack was doing his water treadmill workouts twice a week and progressing nicely.
But, he continued to lick his paws, both his right and left paws.
I tried looking at his diet. The vet had given us some new supplements for him, I stopped those, he still licked. No more chicken treats, still licking.
Each day I would check his paws and his toes, but saw nothing…until one day I did. On his left paw, third toe was all bloody and oozing – plus muddy from just being a dog. Crap, no wonder he’s licking. I cleaned him up, bandaged it and hoped for the best. I don’t know if there is any correlation between the grips and the water treadmill and whatever was going on with his toe…but something sure was going on.
We changed the bandage each day – cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide (which I later learned is a no-no) and it seemed to be getting a little better, but when it wasn’t healed after 4 days, I took him to the vet. They kind of casually said, yes, it’s irritated, here’s some solution to soak it in and some antibiotics in case it’s infected and sent me on my way. I wasn’t real happy with their nonchalance, but figured I’d just keep a close eye on it.
We soaked it and bandaged it and I was keeping those plastic booties on him most of the time just so he would leave it alone. It seemed to be clearing up, until one day I come back from a swim and there’s the booty on the floor and when I pick it up, out falls his whole nail. It had just totally fallen off. It wasn’t bleeding or anything and he didn’t seem bothered at all, but back to the vet we went.
This time they took xrays and came back with the news no pet parent ever wants to hear…the C word. Off we go to Maggie’s oncologist – this was only 2 days after our sweet Maggie had passed, so we sure didn’t want to be back at that vet’s, but there we were. They did some additional xrays and advised us that typically these are squamous cell carcinomas are typically treated through amputation. It could also be melanoma, osteosarcoma or even a fungal infection, but without a biopsy there was no way to be certain. Given a biopsy would require Jack to be sedated, we opted to just go ahead with the amputation since that would be the treatment plan anyways if it came back as any type of cancer.
We had to run Jack through a series of pre-op tests, xrays of his lungs, ultrasounds, etc. to check there was no spreading of the cancer – luckily they were all clear, so last Friday, Jack had his toe cut off!
We’re happy to report that the surgery went fine, no issues. We were worried since Jack is a senior and we’ve never put him under anesthesia for anything so we weren’t sure how he would react. He did so well, he was able to come home that same night instead of having to stay overnight in the hospital. I almost wish he had stayed as they gave him a shot of morphine for the pain just a few hours before he came home and he was LOOPY. He really didn’t understand what was going on and why his back legs weren’t working. He couldn’t settle and kept wanting to wander the house.
We eventually put him in his crate just to keep him safe. Next morning, after a few tentative steps, he was walking fine and the morphine appeared to be out of his system. The missing toe and big bandage doesn’t seem to bother him at all. His appetite is fine. He’s been able to go for short walks and he hasn’t made any attempt to chew at his foot – he’s mostly ignored it. This picture is about the first time he noticed it! I think he’s been in some pain, he’s restless and panting a lot, but we have been dosing him with Tramadol which seems to take the edge off.
Now we are just waiting for the biopsy results and hoping for good news. Bandage comes off Thursday so we will update this thread with news of the results and how he is doing.