Not something I ever realised was something that was done in dogs, and I was surprised to learn that is not uncommon. It may sound barbaric (and having been through it, I thought it looked pretty barbaric once the bandage was removed), a toe may need amputating for a variety of reasons and the dog generally copes quite well.
Dog toe amputation is a surgical procedure that removes one or more toes from a dog’s paw. As in my dogs case, this procedure was performed when she injured her paw, probably due to catching her claw, which then got infected. After two weeks of antibiotics, there was no change in the swelling and x rays showed the toe was damaged beyond repair.
There are several reasons your dog may need a toe amputation. physical trauma to your dog’s toes is one common reason. Other reasons include:
Dogs can also develop infections in their toes that, if left untreated, could cause permanent damage. Sometimes, the only way to save your dog’s toe (and paw) is to amputate it.
Cancer causing tumors that form on your dog’s toes may need an amputation. If the tumor is caught early, surgery to remove the toe may be all that’s needed.
This is a condition when your dog’s toe drags along the ground because the tendons are not functioning correctly. This can be caused by a birth defect, an injury, or even arthritis. While splints and other treatments can help with knuckling, amputation may be the best option in some cases.
I found very little information with photos on the web to prepare me for what it would look like or how she would be after surgery. For information she was almost nine years of age at the time of amputation, and she is a bit of a live wire to say the least, and always getting herself into trouble. I was surprised when I collected her following surgery to see her walking with not even much of a limp and keeping her quiet for two weeks before the stitches came out was difficult.
Update to this after receiving the histology report the swelling and infection was caused by 'canine nailbed keratoacanthoma', which I am told is very rare, and only study has been published with 8 dogs, and benign. Fingers crossed she has no further problems.
Just over four weeks after the operation all healed and almost as good as new.