If you’ve ever dislocated or broken a toe, you know how painful it can be. A dislocated toe on a dog is no different and may keep your pup on the sidelines for weeks until it has a chance to heal.
Toe injuries are not uncommon in dogs, especially those that are extremely active. If your pup is constantly on the go, running, jumping and playing with other dogs or your family, he’s at risk of injuring his paws.
In case you hadn’t noticed, your dog has five toes on his front paws and four on his hind legs. Each toe contains three small bones that support his weight. Dislocating or breaking any of these bones can be very painful.
Paw injuries should be looked after immediately to avoid complications with your pup’s mobility in the future.
Limping is one of the most obvious signs of a toe or paw injury, accompanied by your dog whining and whimpering due to pain. Your pup may hold his paw up as a sign of his injury or lick his paw often in an effort to make it feel better.
When examining your pup, take care not to put undue pressure on this area as it could trigger more pain. If your pup’s paw or toe looks swollen, he could have a dislocated toe bone.
What Causes A Dislocated Toe In Dogs?
The bones in your dog’s paw are supported by ligaments. A traumatic injury or excessive pressure on your pup’s foot can cause ligament tears in his paw, resulting in broken or dislocated toe bones.
Car accidents, a hard misstep, jumping from high elevations or your pup catching his foot on a fence or hole while running can all result in broken or dislocated toes.
In addition to toe injuries, your pup may sustain an open wound on his paw which can lead to infection if not treated right away.
Show dogs that partake in jumping competitions are at high risk of dislocating a toe due to the pressure put on their paws when they land.
If you accidentally step on your small dog or puppy or drop a heavy object on its foot, it can result in a dislocated or broken toe. If your pup gets entangled in a chain link fence, he may dislocate a toe trying to pull free on his own.
Poor nutrition can also play a role in paw and toe injuries, as a malnourished dog is more prone to suffering from broken bones.
If your pup lacks calcium, vitamin D or other bone-boosting nutrients in his diet, he won’t have healthy bone density to sustain his weight, making him more susceptible to bone breakage. Dogs need a nutritionally balanced diet for proper growth and development.
If you need help creating a meal plan to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, consult with your vet.
Can A Dog’s Dislocated Toe Heal On Its Own?
Depending on the severity of your dog’s injury, there is a chance his dislocated toe could heal on its own. With a little help, a minor toe injury can often be corrected at home, saving you a trip to the vet.
By observing your pet’s behavior, you’ll be able to tell if his condition is serious or not. If your pup is whining and crying and unable to walk without limping in pain, he needs to see a vet.
Until your pet can see a vet, keep him off of the injured foot as much as possible, as putting weight on a dislocated toe could make it worse. You can also take measures to manage your pup’s symptoms to help him feel more comfortable.
Placing cold compresses on the afflicted area can help reduce inflammation and ease your pup’s pain. It may also help to gently massage the injured foot, if your pup allows it, as this improves blood circulation and promotes quicker healing.
If your pup yelps in pain when you touch his paw, it’s best to pull away as constant handling of a dislocated or broken toe could make his condition worse. Your pup will need to rest as much as possible to give his toe a chance to heal.
Restrict your pet’s activities to walking outdoors for potty breaks and occasional walking/limping inside, if he feels up to it.
There should be no attempts to jump on or off furniture, climb stairs or roughhouse with the kids until the toe has healed, which may take up to a month or longer, depending on your pup’s age, the severity of his injury and his overall health.
How To Treat A Dog’s Dislocated Toe!
If the injury is serious enough to warrant veterinary assistance, your vet can provide you with options for treatment after examining your pet’s injury. Your dog may need x-rays to determine the extent of his injury so your vet can recommend the appropriate treatment.
In some cases, a cast or splint may be placed on the toe to keep the bone intact until it has a chance to heal. For severe cases, surgical repair may be needed.
Your vet will likely prescribe pain and/or anti-inflammatory medication to help your pet feel more comfortable during the healing process.
If, for any reason, you can’t get your dog to your vet, a video call your veterinarian to get help. A description of your pet’s symptoms and pictures of his injury will enable your vet to recommend a course of action for treatment until you can bring him in for a physical examination.
Depending on your pet’s condition, your vet may recommend wrapping the injured toe for protection until you can schedule a visit. You’ll need to muzzle your pup for this treatment to prevent getting bitten.
Start by carefully putting cotton wool in between your pup’s toes to cushion the dislocated member and then wrap it around his paw, working your way upward.
Cover the cotton wool with a stretch gauze bandage, extending it from the bottom of his paw up his leg, being careful not to cut off his circulation. Keep your pup off the foot as much as possible to give his toe time to heal.
Although a dislocated toe on a dog may not be as serious as a broken foot or fractured leg, it can still be quite painful and needs proper care. A vet visit will determine the extent of your pup’s injury so he can get adequate treatment. By doing your part to supervise your dog inside and out and feeding him a nutritious diet to strengthen his bone health, you can help him live a healthier, happier life free of painful toe injuries.