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Discussion Starter #1
Short version: Katie had part of a toe amputated in mid-July. Is it possible that she could still be sore during / at the end of agility class?

Long version: In January, Katie started having trouble in agility: she'd stop running midway through class. She missed class most of the summer due to a nail injury and infection, biopsy / amputation, and recovery. Since she's been back in class she's been enjoying class more and running more, but she still occasionally refuses to move off the start line at the end of class. Is it reasonable to think that she could be sore?
 

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How does she act if you handle her foot? (Assuming she didn't mind that before the injury)

Are her nails well trimmed? She is probably carrying her weight slightly different on that foot now and slightly long nails could be more uncomfortable even if before they weren't a problem. I know Chester's nails got horribly long after his knee surgery because I couldn't lift his foot properly on the hurt leg and he couldn't support his weight on the hurt leg for me to lift the opposite foot for a trim.

I don't think its unreasonable to figure that her foot could still be a bit more sensitive and get sore more quickly by the end of class. How's she do on longer walks?
 

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Thanks, Shell. She's definitely not happy about having that paw touched - more so than her other front paw and before the surgery. Her nails are good - she's been groomed twice since surgery and her nails are short - but there's a change in her foot structure, it's flatter than it was.

We walked quite a bit on vacation and she seemed fine and she seems fine running around the yard, but that's not quite the same as agility class.
 

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Thanks, Shell. She's definitely not happy about having that paw touched - more so than her other front paw and before the surgery. Her nails are good - she's been groomed twice since surgery and her nails are short - but there's a change in her foot structure, it's flatter than it was.

We walked quite a bit on vacation and she seemed fine and she seems fine running around the yard, but that's not quite the same as agility class.
I've never done agility but, would I be correct in thinking that there are more times that a dog will be landing on both front feet (jumping over or off something) with a forward motion than would normally be happening on a walk or play on level ground?

The foot structure has flex and padding that absorbs some impact (here's a simple diagram that helps illustrate) so depending on what toe was removed, she has lost some or a lot of the shock absorbing aspects. Which logically means more impact being carried through to her leg and shoulder.
 

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Like some sprains, not all motion will cause pain. And some repetitive motions, like jumping, may cause fatigue that running or walking may not cause. It may take a few months for the muscle and ligaments to adjust to the new foot/toe configuration.

You might try to get a 'post-surgery' telephone consultation to ask the Vet about specific possibilities with Katie. I don't think it is 'serious' but may take a little more time to heal. In addition, most dogs don't like to have their front paws messed with. I think they are more sensitive. But, if Katie is more sensitive after the surgery, then she was before, then you might ask the Vet about a gentle anti-inflammatory, something like over the counter Fish oil, etc. that might be used longer term, as opposed to NSAIDs or Aspirin, which may cause stomach/intestine/liver issues when used for more than a couple of weeks. The folks at agility class may have suggestions for something that can help, as far as reducing pain-causing inflammation.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've never done agility but, would I be correct in thinking that there are more times that a dog will be landing on both front feet (jumping over or off something) with a forward motion than would normally be happening on a walk or play on level ground?

The foot structure has flex and padding that absorbs some impact (here's a simple diagram that helps illustrate) so depending on what toe was removed, she has lost some or a lot of the shock absorbing aspects. Which logically means more impact being carried through to her leg and shoulder.
Do you mean wouldn't be happening? If so, yes, although our yard isn't level so there is some extra pressure on her front feet while running there. But, it's not the same type of repetitive landing as in agility.

Thanks for the diagram - that's really cool. She lost the tip of a middle toe and the pad.

Like some sprains, not all motion will cause pain. And some repetitive motions, like jumping, may cause fatigue that running or walking may not cause. It may take a few months for the muscle and ligaments to adjust to the new foot/toe configuration.

You might try to get a 'post-surgery' telephone consultation to ask the Vet about specific possibilities with Katie. I don't think it is 'serious' but may take a little more time to heal. In addition, most dogs don't like to have their front paws messed with. I think they are more sensitive. But, if Katie is more sensitive after the surgery, then she was before, then you might ask the Vet about a gentle anti-inflammatory, something like over the counter Fish oil, etc. that might be used longer term, as opposed to NSAIDs or Aspirin, which may cause stomach/intestine/liver issues when used for more than a couple of weeks. The folks at agility class may have suggestions for something that can help, as far as reducing pain-causing inflammation.
Thanks. She's due for her annual exam and post-surgery follow up soon, I'm just impatient.

Thanks both of you for not making me feel like I'm being over protective or making excuses. We had been treating her agility issues as behavioral, but her first week back after surgery she was so much better that I was thinking it could have been pain. Since then she's had good weeks and bad weeks but overall she's much improved, so I just don't know what to think.
 

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It doesn't sound like an unexpected result, but I suggest that you compile a list of questions, related to expectations, timelines, limitations, mild pain management, and so on to take to the Vet... One thing not mentioned is the issue related to pain, wear&tear on the other 3 legs, and other stress re-balancing that may create long term things to watch for...ask the Vet about what long term effects you may be able to prevent...
 

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I meant more times in agility than would be happening on a walk; agility impact > walk impacts.

Not a vet of course but I would expect the middle toe and pad to be the equivalent of the human big toe in terms of stability/balance and shock absorbing. So it wouldn't surprise me that it could cause some lingering tenderness or soreness.

I won't say there might not be a bit of a behavioral aspect to it, but only in the sense that if something has been causing discomfort that a dog can become more reluctant to do that action at a time when they expect discomfort even if it hasn't yet occurred. No idea if that makes any sense. Basically, it seems likely that at least some of the time she is sore by the end of agility but it is also possible that on days when the soreness hasn't yet arrived she is still anticipating it and hesitating.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It doesn't sound like an unexpected result, but I suggest that you compile a list of questions, related to expectations, timelines, limitations, mild pain management, and so on to take to the Vet... One thing not mentioned is the issue related to pain, wear&tear on the other 3 legs, and other stress re-balancing that may create long term things to watch for...ask the Vet about what long term effects you may be able to prevent...
Thanks. When I talked to the vet before surgery he said there shouldn't be any long-term effects, but I'll revisit that with him.

I meant more times in agility than would be happening on a walk; agility impact > walk impacts.

Not a vet of course but I would expect the middle toe and pad to be the equivalent of the human big toe in terms of stability/balance and shock absorbing. So it wouldn't surprise me that it could cause some lingering tenderness or soreness.

I won't say there might not be a bit of a behavioral aspect to it, but only in the sense that if something has been causing discomfort that a dog can become more reluctant to do that action at a time when they expect discomfort even if it hasn't yet occurred. No idea if that makes any sense. Basically, it seems likely that at least some of the time she is sore by the end of agility but it is also possible that on days when the soreness hasn't yet arrived she is still anticipating it and hesitating.
Thanks. I knew what you meant, just didn't read the actual words you wrote. I agree with the behavioral aspect in terms of past discomfort and expectations - I broke a bone in my foot ~25 years ago and still avoid putting weight on that area.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Plot twist: Katie has another nail infection that's probably also a malignancy. So, in addition to possible soreness in the paw that had toe amputated, she likely has some pain in a different paw.
 

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Sorry to hear that. Reduced mobility, not wanting to walk b/c of pain, contributes to a reduced quality of life and health ... Hope the Vet can help.
 
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