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Ask the Veterinarian/Dog broken toe or sprain?



Hello.  I have a 10 month old australian cattle dog/lab mix female.  Four days ago, she was playing fetch with a frisbee, jumped really high, landed and didn't get up.  She yelled quite a scream as well after landing.  She was limping, not putting any weight on her right, back foot.  I felt all over and it seemed the only thing that bothered her was when I touched her outermost toe.  The nail is fine, but her leg is swollen - can a broken or sprained toe cause that much swelling?  Is it possible that it will heal on its own?  I have been giving her baby buffered aspirin for pain and she seems to be doing well.  She's eating, drinking, and even tries to jump on me, she just won't put any weight on that foot.  The vets in my area have a reputation to charge for unnecessary procedures and I won't be able to afford to take her to a vet until next month.  She is very healthy otherwise, thank you.

Without an exam and x-rays it is hard to tell what is sprained, dislocated, or broken from photos on the internet.  Usually when a dog holds the leg up completely, it is usually in the hips or pelvis.  If they put their toe down and then lift it when weight is placed on it, that usually signifies something in the knee, like a ruptured cruciate ligament.   The dog needs to be examined by a vet early to see if it can be repaired before permanent damage prevents a clean repair and return to normal use of the leg.

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Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf


Dermatology and ear diseases of dogs and cats


I am the author of "Small Animal Ear Diseases; An Illustrated Guide" published by W.B. Saunders. I have over 25 years of clinical experience with a special interest in dermatologic conditions and ear diseases.

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