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NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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What can be done for a puppy born with a club foot (paw)

Customer Question

My pekingese just had her first litter. Only on female pup, but it has a club paw. What is available to save the puppies limb?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
The pup may actually do fine with this though it may need extra nail care.
I would take a wait and see attitude. If the leg is too short or the leg bothers the dog then it can be removed.
If the pup gets older (some pups have more defects than you can see and don't live for more than a few days) have the vet evaluate it as some leg deformities can be corrected early on.
I've got a dog here who is missing the center toe bone right up to a deformed wrist. It doesn't bother her and she is now nearly 9 years old. She just isn't much for long walks and needs extra nail care as some of her nails are in odd places that don't touch the ground.
Hope this helps you!
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: No this is not a toe problem. The paw faces to the side. The pup steps on the ankle to move around. My question was geered toward casting or surgical options and what are the possibilities.
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
With a newborn puppy nothing much can be done until it is old enough to get anesthesia.
If this is a malformation then removal of the limb or possibly surgical repairs and pinning etc might be possible but it may be nothing can be done until the puppy is finished growing.
As pekes often have structural issues in the front end this pup may be down on its pasterns and have a turned foot. It might have a growth plate abnormality or be missing bones.
I'd suggest having your vet see it and maybe do an x-ray if its old enough not to get chilled in the process (over 2 weeks) of exam. That would tell you the most about what can or can't be done.
I mentioned the dog with the missing toe and wrist bone malformations resulting in a split foot just so you could know that even a pup with a non repairable deformity can live a decent life.
You might see (if the pup is nursing) if this is something the body can change on its own. See if giving your mother dog goats milk as a supplement (canned or dry or fresh) will increase the nutrition and minerals in her milk resulting in changes in the foot.
See if a daily dose of liquid vitamins in the pup helps.
Sometimes the body just needs the right nutrition to get it back on track growing correctly.
I do think an x-ray and consult with your vet would be my first choice in treating this.
You can't know what might be repairable until you know just what the damage is.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
No, this is not repairable on it's own. The paw faces sideways like an (L) at the ankle. The pup walks on its ankle. Remember it was born 12/30/05 so it is newborn. My question and I might not be phrasing it right because my vet dismissed me when I went in on 12/31 he didn't take an xray or anything. He said to come back in 1 month. I want to know what is available to correct this problem either surgery, splinting or casting. I want to know about procedures etc.. I want to ask reasonable questions when I go get a second opinion. I want to repair this defect surgically or otherwise.
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
The reason he wanted to wait is probably to see if the pup would live. One serious defect often indicates more may be there.
I would suggest when you get to seeing a vet with the pup you should see an orthopedic surgeon not your regular vet. You might be able to find that sort of specialist here
It might be possible to break, set, pin or plate the leg but it might not be possible to do it before the growth plates are closed which happens near puberty.
An orthopedic surgeon would be the best person to consult.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Nancy you were very kind in addressing my question, but I wanted technical info on what surgical and repair options were available for this puppy. You were able to give me alot of general info that my I as a healthcare worker did know. My question I believe should have been addressed by a specialist orthopedic vet. I do appreciate your time though. Thx
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
I do not think you can get technical information based on nothing. You have a puppy with a defect. You don't know how severe the defect is. You don't know what exactly is wrong. You don't know if the puppy will live to have anything at all done to it.
With a defective leg like this if it bothers the puppy a common solution is removing the leg.
There are orthopedic procedures to repair some defects - some work and some don't.
But until you know it actually is a handicap for the puppy and until you know exactly what is wrong there is no way to say what repair might be possible or if one is needed.
You gave no clues in your question that would permit any detailed reply nor information on what you already knew.
You want to 'fix' the problem in this puppy which is a good thought. The options will be limited or expanded based on basic test results including any other health issues, what the actual problem with the foot is, and availablity to you of specialists in your region and price range to handle this if there is any solution at all - often there isn't.
The dog I have with a defective foot can't be repaired due to the extent and type of the defect, nothing at all can be done to help her. As it doesn't bother her, I'm not going to remove the leg and we just accomodate her handicap.
That may end up being your problem too - just no way to fix what is wrong. But until a vet specializing in orthopedic surgery sees the specific x-rays from your puppy you won't know.