The vet’s office: Victory in de-feet
Examining pets’ winter foot injuries
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
On a recent evening emergency, I received two calls within an hour wherein a dog being let out to do its evening business returned inside with a bleeding foot. Now what to do?
A quick inspection of the foot should tell you if this is a cut or toenail injury, how deep, and how much blood is being shed. Then call your emergency on-call veterinarian while putting dry pressure on the wound. A determination can then be made if this is an immediate medical concern or if, with some first aid and activity restriction, it could wait until a next-day regular appointment.
Sharp foreign objects hidden under the snow, such as glass from a broken bottle or sheet metal, may immediately cause deep injury to tendons and produce a profuse arterial blood flow that requires immediate medical attention. More commonly, these are ice cuts or toenail injuries that tend to be shallow, low-blood-volume producers. Direct pressure for a short time with a clean, dry rag, tissue, or paper towel and an application of a topical antibiotic will usually be enough to get you to a regular, nonemergency appointment. Activity restriction and a light bandage or baby sock to protect the injury is usually encouraged prior to the visit.
Upon examination your veterinarian can determine the best course of treatment. Because anesthetics may be necessary, it is best not to feed your dog the morning of the visit. A few stitches may be required or that broken nail excised at the base. In many cases the foot is rebandaged and oral antibiotics prescribed.
Be sure to check your property to find the injurious object that inflicted the wound. Long toenails should be trimmed to decrease the chance of a broken nail.
Additionally, in regard to snow melt products: A local pet groomer told me recently of an increase in cracked foot pads from road salt. Wash those feet after your pet returns from the street walk or “boot up” to prevent this chemical irritation. Pet friendly ice melt products are available for home use.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.