Dogs with missing toes, with this be a problem in the future?
July 9, 2008 1:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering adopting a greyhound dog missing a toe on it's front foot (the one on the right side, so it's 'pinkie' in human terms). It doesn't seem to hobble or act weird about it, it does sometimes tend to lean on the other three toes (so they kind of curve a bit more than they probably should), as if the fourth one was there. I actually didn't even notice it until someone told me the first time I met the dog. Anyone have experience with dogs with missing toes? Will this cause problems in the future, like arthritis or the loss of ability to walk? What should I look out for? The greyhound agency had the dog checked out at a vet for all the shots and everything and they tell me it's ok. I'm a little apprehensive though. Thanks for your help!
posted by jkl345 to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
I don't know about toes in particular, but I will say this: There are a thousand million things that can go wrong with dogs at any time, young or old, and sooner or later one of them will. Any dog you get is a dog with problems, it's just that some of them are not yet evident. Get the dog; it will be okay. Or it won't. But even then it will be okay, because you'll have your dog, and your dog will have you.
posted by HotToddy at 2:13 PM on July 9, 2008 [16 favorites]

Many dogs can learn to move very well on only three legs, I would assume that the comparatively minor loss of a couple of toes would be of little consequence.
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on July 9, 2008

As mentioned by HotToddy, all dogs will have problems sooner or later, just like all human beings do, but on a shorter timeframe (because they're, you know, dogs.) Pet insurance is something that might be of value (I certainly wish I'd gotten it when I could have!) but on an adopted greyhound it might not be an option.

So if I were you, I'd ask for clarification on whether they believe it's a birth defect or the result of an old injury; that should lead to a useful conversation on the genetic predispositions for disease and such that greyhounds possess, and whether this can lead to problems in the future.

Oh, and if it's not clear, I mean ask the vet -- if the adoption agency and vet are both good ones that care about the dogs, they'll be thrilled that you want to make sure you're anticipating what you'll need to do to care for the dog properly in the long term.
posted by davejay at 2:36 PM on July 9, 2008

My dig is missing a toe and he has never had any problems with it.
posted by bradbane at 2:59 PM on July 9, 2008

It's possible that it indicates a more systemic problem -- you sometimes see toes removed due to a tumor, for example. With a greyhound, though (and I'm assuming it's a former racing dog) it could very easily be due to a racetrack injury, which is no reason to be concerned.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:29 PM on July 9, 2008

don't worry and scratch the furball's head for me, it'll be OK
posted by matteo at 3:32 PM on July 9, 2008

For whatever it's worth, I have a geriatric cat with two toes missing from one foot (a tumor forced their amputation). She has never been the most energetic creature, but she gets around about as well as before.
posted by adamrice at 3:51 PM on July 9, 2008

Just to chime in that greyhounds are wonderful, loving animals. I know you will enjoy yours as much as I did mine.
posted by netbros at 4:07 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dogs normally do just fine without a toe, I would not worry about this at all. A bigger concern with a Greyhound is going to be dental issues, stay on top of these, Greyhounds have notoriously terrible teeth, and many rescues don't alert their adopters to the potential expense involved.
posted by biscotti at 4:13 PM on July 9, 2008

I had a chow/german shepherd mix that was born with no toes on one paw. She lived 14+ years and she never had a problem with the toeless paw other than a bit of limping after really long walks.

Go for it!!1
posted by a22lamia at 4:40 PM on July 9, 2008

Best answer: Posted on behalf of my friend who has a retired racing greyhound who had her toe amputated after a sporting accident:

Amy is missing her #2 toe on her left front paw. What happened after the amputation is that her other toes have compensated. She really doesn't notice it's gone (she runs around like she always has). The only time she seems to know it's gone is if she steps on a rock the wrong way, and that is rare. Amy is now 9.5 (can you believe it!), and the missing toe is just not a factor in her daily life, and we don't expect it to be.
posted by matildaben at 8:13 PM on July 9, 2008

Best answer: Well she'll never play the piano, but it'll be one less nail to cut.
In damp or cold weather I'd be aware of possible arthritis ache on the foot just because there was an injury, but that's a minor concern. See what your adoption person recommends for minor pain relief if this is an issue.

Do you have hardwood/laminate floors? Slippery floors can scare some hounds. My girl with all toes intact slides around my in-laws' pergo-floored kitchen like Bambi on ice, so throw rugs and traction is a good idea.

There potentially could be a slight reduction in Frito Aroma output.

On the plus side, you could tell people that she lost the toe when she met a Man From The South.

Enjoy your new hound :)
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:28 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

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