Some Common Paw and Paw Pad Conditions:

All text reprinted with permission from "Care of the Racing Greyhound"(Linda L. Blythe,
James R. Gannon, A. Morrie Craig. Published by Graphic Arts Center) Text in blue added by Thera-Paw.

Split Nail _ The nail is broken or cracked from the weight bearing surface for a varying distance up to the nail bed.

Sand Toes _ Infection of the nail bed is recognized by inflammation (red, swollen, or without a purulent discharge) and pain on pressure around the base of the nail. In racing Greyhounds, it is commonly caused by sand becoming embedded in the nail bed, i.e., " sand toes". In the younger Greyhound, the infection usually occurs around the base of the nail after it has been abraded or constantly covered in mud in the rearing pens.
Loss of Nails_ Complete loss of nail exposes the underlying "quick" (nutrient membrane) opening the area to infection, bleeding, and pain. A new nail will eventually grow to re-cover the entire exposed area.
Bruised Nails__ Bruised nails result when bleeding occurs inside the nail ( a blood blister or hematoma) after trauma. Then the nail becomes separated from the nail bed as a result of bleeding causing pressure inside the nail. The Greyhound is visibly lame and the nail is extremely sensitive to the pressure of palpation. A small red to blue area (hematoma) under the nail surface is easily visible in the lighter colored nails, but will not be seen at all on black or heavily pigmented nails.
Broken and/or deformed nails__ Rarely a Greyhound will be born with a congenital malformation of the nails, which is not usually amenable to satisfactory repair for the stresses of racing (Wallace, 1972). With young Greyhounds on the farm, injuries to the nails may not have been observed or treated at the time of occurrence. Thus, nails may be broken or deformed in shape. Examination of the nails for recent or old injuries is advised to enable the reparative process to be implemented prior to active racing.
Pemphigus (nails and nail pads falling off)__ The clinical signs are nails falling off, or pain with handling. A nail may be swollen or exude serous exudates. There is a loss of the pink coloring along the center of the nail. The nail itself loses texture, becoming softer, crumbly, and growing to an excessive length with a twist or shape change. Loss of nail readily occurs after 7 to 10 days leaving a dead dry nail bone with very little bleeding (due to closure of the blood supply). Secondary infection causes pus to form and a foul odor is common.
Dry and Cracked Pads__ This is a common problem in young Greyhounds on the farms, or coming into the kennels for training from clay or hard sand yards. Walking on hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete may cause excessive wearing on the pads of the young Greyhound. This may cause thinning of the pad, with redness, lameness, and soreness to the touch. Training or racing Greyhounds on hot sand surfaces in very warm weather can cause blisters under the pads due to the excessive heat. Pads should be examined for cracks and degree of hardness on a regular basis. Abrasions of the main foot pad can also occur when racing on sand.
Corns (papillomas or warts)__ Corns are evident as thickened zones or white circular areas on the surface of the pad. They are sensitive to finger pressure.
Cut Pads and Holes in Pads__ Recent cuts or holes are usually visible on direct observation. Pain on pressure over a pad would suggest injury. Careful cleansing and investigation of the area for foreign bodies such as glass is essential, since the surface of the pad may heal over a foreign body, but the lameness and pain will still be present. The use of a magnifying glass is recommended when pursuing any detailed examination of the pad. This lameness may not be evident on soft sand or grass, but will be demonstrated if the Greyhound is walked on hard or uneven surfaces such as gravel or asphalt (bitumen) road surfaces.
Split Webbing__ A tear in the skin between the toes is readily evident when a trainer regularly examines the feet of the Greyhound postrace or after a training run. These web injuries are accompanied by varying degrees of skin damage, bleeding, and temporary lameness. Contamination of the wound with sand is a complicating factor demanding a thorough cleansing prior to surgical or medical care. Tears can occur in any of the 3 webbings on any of the 4 feet. The degree of injury can range from a small split in the front edge of the web through to an extensive tear along the entire length of the webbing. Tears may involve the skin over the toe itself. "Spike wounds" may be self-inflicted during uneven, unbalanced striding, or more commonly when the foot of one Greyhound lands on the foot of another Greyhound during a run. Sand wounds on the hind feet may involve only the superficial layer of the skin, i.e., an abrasion, or the skin may be completely disrupted producing an open wound appearing as a split lengthwise along the underside of the toe with the flexor tendons evident in the depths of the opening.
"Sprung" Toes__ Sprung toes result from a twisting or excessive sideways movement that sprains but does not completely tear the collateral ligaments of the joint. This injury is commonly associated with a run on grass surfaces. There is swelling of the joint area which is hot and painful to the touch in the early (acute) stages. The Greyhound may limp for the first 48 hours after the injury. Bruising may be visible if much bleeding is associated with the ligament sprain. The injury may affect one or both of the collateral ligaments resulting in swelling on one or both sides of the joint , respectively.
Dislocated Toes__ Dislocated toes may occur at either of the three toe joints, but most commonly, at the middle or bottom toe joints. Dislocations differ from sprung toes in that the collateral ligaments at the side of the joint are torn completely. Sideways displacement of the bones about the joint is the primary diagnostic sign of this type of injury in the lower two toe joints. When testing for joint laxity, hold the toes extended. Initially the injury will be painful but this subsides within 3 to 4 days. Lack of stability may cause lameness when walking and will severely reduce racing performance. Swelling may or may not be present depending on the amount of bleeding and joint capsule damage associated with the injury. Occasionally, dislocations will have torn ligaments, joint capsule, and the skin at the side of the joint, thus exposing the joint surfaces to sand and bacteria. These are more difficult to repair and have to be treated more aggressively to avoid infection and arthritis. Dislocation of the top toe joint is seen almost exclusively on the inside or outside toes and mainly in the hind feet. The clinical signs include swelling, bleeding, pain on palpation and temporary lameness. However, the displacement is not so obvious, being a rotational displacement with manipulation of the joint rather than a sideways displacement seen in dislocation of the lower toe bones. They appear to be more painful and have a serious impact on performance due to repeated displacement and pain when weight is placed on the affected area of the foot.





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