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.
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.
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.
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.
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.