Quick Post

Toe problem- Info Please!!!

New Topic
Toe problem- Info Please!!!
  • Please anyone one with info...Our vets have no clue.
    Labor Day weekend I rushed Indy to the emergency vet with a grotesquely swollen toe.  It was very red, missing hair and the nail was black.  The emergency vet said is was basically a hot spot, prescribed antibiotics.  When I asked her why the nail was completely black, she told me that dogs have black nails, even though Indy has 17 other nails which are clearish brown.  I went to our regular vet later the same week who showed a bit more concern, prescribed a different antibiotic and game him a steroid shot.  The swelling seemed to go down, but the nail remained black.  Then three weeks ago, the nail ripped completely off- only the "quick" was sticking out of his toe.  He had a minor surgery to remove the exposed quick, and I was told that he may have to be declawed if it doesn't heal.  Well, it hasn't healed and he is scheduled this week to go in for surgery to get his toe declawed .
    Now the big problem- While clipping his toes last night, I discovered that another toe on a different foot seems to have the same problem.  It is fairly swollen, missing hair and the nail is partially black starting at the base of the nail.  Now I'm panicked.  The vet has no clue what's wrong.  I see this will most likely be a very expensive problem to diagnose and treat.  I don't want this problem to spread to the rest of his toes and Indy to end up completely declawed.
    He is not chewing or licking the toes.  He has not been injured or stepped on.
    Has anyone ever seen similar problems?  Any ideas as to why this is happening?
  • Leslie - I thought I'd read about something like this before and so I did a search and found this on vetinfo.com:
    The breeds that appear to be most commonly affected by lupoid
    onchodystrophy are rottweilers and greyhounds, so given this it is a good
    idea to maintain a high degree of suspicion for this condition. German
    shepherds and giant schnauzers may also be affected more commonly than
    other breeds. The nails are usually painful prior to falling off and the
    toe remains painful for a few days to several weeks after the nails fall
    off, at least in the cases we have seen. I don't know about all dogs, but
    our dog was pretty sensitive about having her toes touched for the rest of
    her life, although it didn't seem like they were constantly in pain. More
    like she remembered the pain for a long time.
    The only way that I know of to diagnose the problem is to biopsy an
    affected nail bed. There  is a description of how to do this in one of the
    Clinics of North America and that would be worth looking into if you would
    consider biopsy, because the alternative technique is removal of the last
    digit of an affected to to get a biopsy specimen and I would be really
    reluctant to do that. If this does progress to other nails it is also
    reasonable to assume that this condition is present and treat for it, at
    least in my opinion.
    I have not seen any indication that this is a nutritionally related
    problem, except that some dogs with food allergies are reported to lose
    toenails if there is severe inflammation of the feet but I don't think that
    just nail bed inflammation occurs much with food allergies. Treatment could
    be considered to be nutritional, though. Many dogs are reported to respond
    to high doses of omega n-3 fatty acid supplementation. High dose is about
    18mg/lb of body weight or about 1 capsule of most of the fatty acid
    supplements per 10 lbs of body weight. This is a usually much higher than
    the dose recommended on the label.
    Other treatments that sometimes work, and are currently used in addition to
    fatty acid supplementation are pentoxyfilline (Trental Rx) administration
    at 10mg/kg or 400mg/dog once a day or once every other day;  niacinamide
    and tetracycline administration (usually 500m of each medication given two
    to three times a day) and corticosteroids at immunosuppressive dosages. The
    corticosteroids should be a last resort because often the other medications
    work if given for at least a couple of months.
    Antibiotics are not usually helpful but it is hard to resist using them,
    especially for the first one or two nails when it is tempting to hope that
    the problem is a nail bed infection.
    My impression is that this is a discrete condition that is an immune system
    disorder. This would put it in the same class of problems as systemic lupus
    erythematosus and phemphigus disorders but I think it is considered to be a
    completely separate entity. I'm not absolutely certain of that, though.
    I don't know what to tell you about the long term situation with this
    condition. We did not keep our rottweiler on medications long term because
    we didn't see much response to the tetracycline/niacinamide protocol and
    the dosage of fatty acids we used was too low by today's standards and
    perhaps consequently they didn't seem to help much, either. I didn't want
    to keep her on steroids, so we just treated her when the nails were
    painful. She lost all her nails over the course of about a year or two and
    and then was comfortable but nail-less for the rest of her life. So our
    experience with treating one dog was that she did OK without long term
    medication as long as you consider having almost no toenails (she had short
    stubs) acceptable. I am not sure that this would be acceptable in a
    greyhound since they seem to dig their toes in more when they walk, but
    again I am not sure of this, either.
    Mike Richards, DVM
  • Cathy, thank you so much!!
    I'll bring this in to show my vet!
  • Here is a good page on nail issues:

    Aside from things like bacteria and fungal it seems that food allergies, nails that are too long or too short, and auto-immune disease can cause this.
    It seems like there are so many reasons.
    The one thing though that seems key is that it has not healed and now it seems to be occuring in another toe. I worry that it may be immune related. There seems to be a few auto-immune issues with nails that can cause this.
    I hope that it is not serious and can be traced back to injury to trauma. I'm just concerned that it has not healed and seems to be occuring in another toe now.
    Please keep us updated and good luck with the surgery.

  • I'm hoping what everyone has said is right, but my experience is different.  NOW BEFORE I START -- Muffin's nail did not become discolored at all -- but the toe itself was red, swollen and a bit yeasty around the nail bed.
    I can't tell you for sure BUT I can tell you without delay go to your vet and have them aspirate that toe -- take a syringe and withdraw fluid from the toe and smear it on a slide and look at it.
    My cocker had something very similar -- the toe would get red and it almost looked a bit yeasty around the nail -- this went on for like 18 months -- off and on -- and in the meanwhile I discovered a mast cell tumor in the prepuce area (under the tip of the penis) and we had it removed and ... lng story made short ... we had him treated with chemo because we knew we didn't get 'clear margins'. 
    Meanwhile one day this toe was red and swollen AGAIN when I bathed him and one more time (after all the times I'd had the vet look at it and 3 other vets had also looked at it and said "looks like a little yeast infection around that nail there".
    THIS TIME the vet said 'Well, you're going back up to the University of Florida for Muffin's check up right?? Have THEM look at it."
    So ... feeling like 10 kinds of fool I did.  Had this oncologist look at it and she said "looks like a little yeast infection around that nail there"  except SHE added "Mind if I aspirate it??"
    Got all his aspirates back totally clear -- cancer hadn't spread to any other organs, etc.  then she took a deep breath and said "BUT ..."
    The aspirate of the toe??  It was malignant.  No, there wasn't a tumor on the toe.  The *entire toe* had become a self-contained tumor. 
    In fact, the cancer cells were so "old" they looked positively ancient.  My vet didn't believe the results and HE aspirated the toe and saw the same darned thing. 
    We had the toe amputated.  It hadn't spread anywhere else.  But it WAS the primary source of the mast cell cancer in his body. 
    The good ending is he lived the rest of his life totally in remission.  No cancer recurrence. 
    But go and have the vet aspirate the toe -- don't just look AT the toe, see what's IN the toe. 
  • My brothers lab had a problem with her toe.  It was cancerous and they amutated it.  I don't know the particulars of the case.  She is 7. She is now on a cancer diet (no grains/carbs) or EVO..
  • Any updates?  How is Indy doing today?  Do let us know what the vet says, when you go....... One or two of Sammy's toenails are blackish at the base..... the one vet tech said nothing to worry about, but it almost looks as if something bled under the nail and its dried blood.  It doesn't bother him and it's not swollen, so I'm going to wait till the next vet visit for it again, if tis still there...... 
    did Indy's toenail turn entirely black?
    I hope he's feeling better and that wish you luck in finding out what it is!  Feel better Indy!
  • My one lab mix has light colored nails and several of them have been black for a few years (she's 11).  I researched it when I first saw it and I think it's sort of from mild trauma, say from running on hard surfaces and is where blood seeps into the nail, but is generally nothing to worry about. 
  • Thanks everyone for you information and concern.  I went to the vet today armed with questions thanks to you.

    Unfortunately, the vet found even more toes starting to turn black.  It starts at the base and covers half of the nail.  (NicolesS, with the one that fell off- it eventually turned entirely black and then fell off.)  It's most of his toes on his back feet.  His front feet are fine.  Between his toes and in the nail bed is also some sort of infection- very very red.  The vet said he had to have been licking/chewing, but I'm with the dog pretty much 24/7 and he doesn't mess with them at all.  Anyway, the vet doesn't know what's wrong and is treating it like a fungal infection to start.  He's on oral meds, and I am to bring him in next week to check for improvement.  It's pretty discouraging...I was really hoping we could figure out what's wrong instead of playing hit-or-miss with meds.

    Following are pics..so you know what I'm talking about
    1. Redness/infection between toes on rear foot.  You can kind of see where the nail is starting to turn black at nail bed.
    2. Normal front foot between toes.
    3.  Nail blackness starting to spread from nail bed.
    4. The previously broken nail starting to grow back- still looks nasty.
    5.  Previously broken nail (if I can fit 5 pics here)

  • Here's a side view of his bad nail.
    And of what his nails look like- you see he has no black coloring at all and should have clear brown nails.

  • Wow, that one view of the nail half black looks a LOT like Sammy's nails!  He has it, I think, on 2 or 3 nails but only on the front ones, not on back nails.  He has no other symptoms that you mention, though - I wonder if it's anything similar.  They don't get any worse, so I'll just keep an eye on them.
    I'd be interested in knowing what works for you since I may be needing to treat them sometime!
    good luck!
  • Awww, poor Indy (and you).  I was really anxious to hear what you found out and I know exactly how frustrating it is playing the guessing game.  Let's hope that the meds they put him on really help stop whatever this is.  Is it possible that dogs can get the same type of toenail fungus that humans get?  The symptoms seem so similar.  I actually hope not, since from what I understand it's very difficult to clear up.
    As for the wetness between the toes, I've gone thru several episodes of yeast/fungus infections with Sassy and I've felt pretty surprised too that I hadn't noticed much, or any, licking.  I'm pretty naggy with Sassy when she does do it, so my DH says she's found ways to hide and be veryyyyy quiet now [;)].  I doubt there's anything topical you could use to help the nail problem since that's probably more systemic, but the using the tea solution has helped clear up some of Sassy's yeasty toes.

  • leslie__chessies

    Oh my god, I am going through the same thing! Its driving me nuts, because the dog looks miserable. I have a boston terrier with the same fungul issues on her hind legs most of all. The nails are brown around the rim and swollen. The "pads" between the toes are dark brown. Yes she licks , because they are hurting her.
    I have tried everything from prescribed pledgets to antifungal horse and dog shampoo, antibiotics, everything the vet can pull out of her majic hat. I am at my wits end with this issue. I want to cure her.