We first met Katy, in 2015, when she was 8 years old and was an active competitor in agility. She came in for a baseline exam and she was orthopedically sound except she was missing her outside toe on her left hind limb. That toe had previously been amputated due to a fracture. Pan ahead to April 2018, and we saw Katy again for rehabilitation after she fractured her fourth digit on her left hind limb (think ring finger on humans) and right next to the missing toe. Well, this time a toe amputation was not an option because dogs bear most of their weight on their middle two digits of each paw (the 3rd and 4th digits, counting the dewclaw as #1).
Katy was in a cast for several weeks to keep the fractured toe as immobilized as possible while it healed. As a result, she lost range of motion in her hock and stifle (ankle and knee respectively) due to the length of time she was in a cast (her hock/ankle was inside the cast too). Once her cast was removed, we began rehabilitation to restore range of motion, improve weight bearing, and reverse muscle atrophy on her left hind limb. In August 2018, the fractured toe hyperextended, meaning the ligaments that held the toe in place were damaged and her toe looked “flat” (no bends in it when standing up). Thankfully, this was not painful for her, but that type of toe problem will affect how the toe functions and pushes off from the ground. This is usually not a big problem for pets, but it can significantly hamper performance in sporting dogs. Despite her flat toe, Katy was able to achieve all three of her rehabilitation therapy milestones: improving her range of motion, muscle mass, and weight bearing of her left hind limb.
However, Katy’s left hind limb toe remained hyperextended. It was decided that with a previously amputated toe and a hyperextended toe on the same foot, returning to agility would put Katy at risk of potentially re-injuring herself. Katy is now retired from agility, but she is still very active. She comes in regularly for conditioning appointments and is enjoying her new sport of Nose Work!