I have this general recommnedation for extremities.. pay attention to them. A dog who is chronically lame, persistently limping and/or licking a foot or toe (especially) is trying to tell you something.
This is Shadow. He is an older Lab. His foot had been bothering him for awhile. The toe was swollen and the nail was growing out irregularly. While infection can happen it is best to start talking about worst case scenario and planning for it sooner vs later in these cases in my experience.
Toes have a higher propensity to cancer in older dogs. While most are only locally invasive they are in almost all cases chronically painful.
In the usual cases of an older dog with a swollen toe I recommend the following;
physical exam ($50)
blood work ($60 to $200 plus)
xrays $150 to 200
If there is bone loss or destruction I recommend amputation. Losing a toe is a relatively simple surgery and these patients overwhelmingly do amazing! I would never hesitate to try to amputate. The only cases I might refrain from amputation are the cardiac compromised pets who we fear cannot survive surgery. I have done a lot of surgeries on a whole lot of older dogs (see my blog or other stories here), please don’t use age a s a reason to deny needed care.
here is the breakdown of Shadows toe amputation;
surgical package; iv catheter, fluids, pump, surgical pack, 30 min anesthesia $250
digit amputation $350
antibiotic to go home $16
NSAID to go home post op $14
This story is posted with Shadows families permission. We thank them for their allowing us to share his story and surgical information.
This surgery was performed at Jarrettsville Veterinary center by Dr Morgan.