Sunday, March 6, 2011

Corn Dog

About six weeks ago, Sophie started limping, favoring her left rear leg. She and Jackson run hard in the yard, so we weren't shocked. A scrape, maybe, or a muscle pull. We checked her foot pads carefully - no cuts that we could see. We prodded and squeezed up and down her leg, looking for a spot that hurt - no reaction.

When Sophie wasn't any better after a few days, Stacy took her to the vet. He did more thorough versions of the same things we had done. He also felt up and down both legs, to see if he could spot any differences between them. Nothing. He went outside and watched Sophie limp along. His diagnonis was a soft-tissue injury. He prescribed a week of Rimadyl and rest, with an X-ray as the potential next step.

Jackson had been through a Rimadyl cycle about a year earlier. It's an anti-inflammatory NSAID, and Jackson responds to it the way I respond to naproxen: in minutes, we're both ready to tapdance. But, for Sophie, the Rimadyl and rest did nothing. After five days, she was limping as much as ever. We were ready to set up a follow-up appointment.

Meantime, Stacy did some research. She spends about 23 hours a day on the Greytalk forums, so she knew where to look. Next morning, she said, "I think Sophie has a corn." I started reading, and it looked like a spot-on diagnosis. Corns are tough growths that some greyhounds get in the pads of their feet. They're not always obvious. They can be hard to diagnose, even for good, experienced vets: corns seem to be peculiar to greyhounds, a typical vet doesn't see that many greyhounds, and most greyhounds never have the problem. The diagnosis info here was very helpful - when I read about the lack of response to "pain killers or anti-inflammatories," I was convinced.

There are two treatment alternatives: remove the corn by hulling it out, or cover it with duct tape. We were able to hull some of the corn out without hurting Sophie, but it was somewhat nerve-racking. So we tried the duct tape method:

  • Cover the corn with a small piece of duct tape;
  • When the tape falls off after a couple of days, put another piece on the corn;
  • Repeat till the dog stops limping and the corn is gone. This will take a couple of weeks.

The duct tape seems to do three things at once:

  • Acts as a band-aid and lessens pain;
  • Dries up and shrinks the corn;
  • Pulls out the dried-up pieces.

Apparently many tracks use the duct tape method - safe, easy, effective. At this point, Sophie has no corn, and no limp. Lesson learned.


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