Great Dane Puppy Harley Breaks A Toe

Harley the Great Dane had a run-in with another Great Dane, Maverick, with whom he lives. Unfortunately, Harley came out on the short end of that encounter.

Here's poor broken Harley with Dad, who is a Navy man and has been deployed.

Here's poor broken Harley with Dad, who is a Navy man and has been deployed.

Harley, the last of the puppies at home (previous posts on the litter:  the puppies are born, puppies’ three-weeks-of-age visit, Great Dane puppy update, The last Great Dane puppy has a home) already had an appointment for Monday morning for his 9-week vaccination visit, but it turned into X-rays and a cast as well.

It seems that Maverick, totally unintentionally, stepped on Harley during he weekend. He seemed to be OK until Sunday night, when one toe began to swell.

Even a quick look tells you Harley's Digit III on the left rear foot is swollen.

Even a quick look tells you Harley's Digit III on the left rear foot is swollen.

Toes are designated by Roman numerals, beginning from the inside (medial) and progressing to the outside. Front feet usually have dewclaws (the short toes that dig into your leg, same as our thumb), unless they were removed at birth. The dewclaw is Digit I. Rear feet usually don’t have dewclaws, but the convention is the same, numbering the dewclaw Digit I if it is present, and the next Digit II, regardless of whether a dewclaw is there.

Immediately on the examination (for order of examination, click here) we saw that Harley’s Digit III was enlarged, and palpation of it proved to be painful.

Radiographs (X-rays) were taken, and showed that Harley suffered a Salter I fracture. Salter fractures are injuries of growing bones that involve the growth plate, or physis (singular). Physes (plural) are areas of bone from which bones gain length or dimension in a specific area. In long bones, like the tibia (the big bone in the lower leg on you, me, cats and dogs) there are two growth plates, one at each end. Likewise there are two growth plates in phalanges, the bones that make up dogs’ toes and our fingers. Also like us, each digit contains three phalanges. Our knuckles mark the intersection of the phalanges. The singular of phalanges is phalanx.

The second digit from your right, middle phalanx, has a Salter I fracture.

The second digit from your right, middle phalanx, has a Salter I fracture.In this closeup it is easier to see that the tip of the growth plate has shifted off to your right.

A Salter I fracture is the most straightforward, with the end of the bone being pushed or knocked from its normal location. You can see from Harley’s radiograph that his second phalanx has a Salter I fracture of the distal (far end) physis.

After the X-ray we moved the misplaced bone back in place as best we could, placed a Mason MetaSplint on the leg for support, then carefully bandaged it.

Precious Harley, in Mom's arms, cast in place, ready to go home.

Precious Harley, in Mom's arms, cast in place, ready to go home.

We anticipate Harley having a full and uncomplicated recovery. However, it is important to note that physes don’t like being disturbed. When they are, they can stop growing altogether, resulting in shortened adult bone length.

See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.

2 comments

  1. Mitko says:

    My doberman has the same problem, but its rear paw finger ,she probably got the fracture while she was entering her shelter and somehow she got wrapped by the chain , i took her to the vet and vet said that it is probably from some sharp object gotten inside hew paw and now it has pus bag inside ,so she give her some antibiotics ,we had no change for over 40 days now ,and when she is getting tired from walking she starts to lift the paw . What should i do ? Please help

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