Posted By: Martin - Vet

Vets Diary - Benjamin is May's Pet of the Month

Some of our patients can seem a little more accident prone than others and Benjamin the Lurcher is perhaps one of those. Benjamin is only just over 2 years old and hadn’t been with his new owners long as he was rescued from a local centre.  He had a lovely nature which meant his new owners immediately fell in love with him.  Benjamin had come with a mystery – his previous story was not really known and so no-one knew why one of his toes had been removed. The missing toe was one of the central main toes of his left front leg, so one thing for sure was that he must have had a serious injury for its removal to be considered necessary.

Missing one of those central two toes meant that the majority of Benjamin’s weight in his right foreleg was taken through his remaining middle digit.   However, this did not show and when Benjamin walked or ran no one would have ever known he had previously had an injury.  That was of course until he injured his one remaining central toe!

Benjamin was out running and all of a sudden pulled up letting out a sharp yelp at the same time.  He was immediately on 3 legs and this didn’t improve with time.  There was no doubt that, with Benjamin not improving, he needed to be seen at the surgery.

Benjamin was in a lot of pain when he came in and it was clear that this involved his one remaining central digit.  The toe was very swollen and, when touched, was extremely painful. The discomfort was so severe that Benjamin was still unable to walk on the leg, and so the priority was to give him pain relief and see if he improved.

The next 24 hours gave little improvement for Benjamin and despite his pain killers he was still unable to walk on the leg.  It appeared that there was more to his injury than just a bruise.  Our next step was to X-ray Benjamin’s swollen foot and this very definitely gave us an answer.  Benjamin had fractured a bone in his toe and the fracture was further complicated because it involved a joint. 

Dog foot x-ray

A fracture in the joint can be a complicated and very serious injury. For Benjamin it was made all the more serious by the fact it was his one remaining central toe.  The central toes take the majority of an animal’s weight and if both toes are seriously injured then a dog would probably be unable to bear weight on that leg, effectively rendering them three-legged.

The only option was to operate and attempt to repair Benjamin’s fractured toe.  It was an intricate operation in which a screw and metal pin were used to secure the fractured section of bone back into position.  X –rays taken after the operation confirmed the procedure had been successful and the challenge now was to ensure that Benjamin didn’t put too much weight on his foot and damage the implants.  With this in mind Benjamin’s leg was placed in a splint and, after a few hours of recovery, Benjamin was allowed home.

It was essential that Benjamin’s repaired toe was protected by the splint for more than just a few days.  So now we faced the challenge was to change the splint regularly while keeping the fracture immobile for a full 6 weeks. Most patients would require sedation in order for us to do this, but Benjamin’s docile nature meant that, as long as we gave him a tasty treat, he was happy to simply lie on his side and let the nurses do their work. He did this regularly over the six week period and at the end we repeated the X-rays of his toe.  The good news was the X-rays showed his toe had healed very well and, to his owner’s relief, he could have his splint off.

The muscles of Benjamin’s leg were a bit weak after several weeks of not being used, and consequently he still had a bit of a limp.   However, given daily exercise by his owners, Benjamin grew stronger day by day and after a few weeks no-one would have known that Benjamin had ever had an injury.

Although Benjamin managed to injure himself, he certainly helped his own recovery by being a very tolerant and well behaved patient.  

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