Canine Toe Cancer
Had you ever heard of cancer of the toe? This was a new one to me, but after talking to a couple of vets and doing some reading, I've found out that it is more common that you might think. Dogs can get various types of cancerous tumors in their toes and in many cases, these cancers are quite aggressive and will metastasize to other parts of their body.
One of the symptoms of toe cancer is that the dog loses a nail. The reason? The tumor is growing in the nail bed and ultimately destroys it.
Emmet, our black Labrador Retriever, was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma tumor in his toe last week. The treatment sounds pretty drastic -- and it is. We've had the cancerous toe amputated, in hopes that we can prevent the cancer from spreading. Unfortunately, given that it is a melanoma, it is likely it has already spread and we just don't know it yet. Fortunately for us, the toe we had removed is a non-weight bearing toe, so after the incision heals, he'll hardly miss it.
This photo is a closeup of Emmet's toe the morning of the surgery. You can see the missing nail and the swollen toe. We initially thought it was swollen because it was infected as a result of the missing nail. While it was infected, most of that swelling is actually the tumor.
Emmet's cancerous toe is gone now and his foot is all bandaged up. Once it heals, I will post a new picture showing what a three-toed Labrador foot looks like.
UPDATE: Emmet died on September 27, 2008 of GDV, more commonly known as bloat -- a condition totally unrelated to his cancer. He was 10 years old. For a photo tribute of his life, click here.
UPDATE 2: Emmet has been gone a number of years now, and I still miss him every day. One consolation is that it seems that this page has become a common one for folks that are looking for info on canine toe cancer. One of the commenters posted a really useful link that might also help aid the diagnosis of toe cancer in your dog. Please see www.flickr.com/photos/giant_schnauzer/5340996245/ for an XRay image of toe cancer useful as a reference for diagnostic use. Thanks for sharing your photo Harry. I hope all of you that visit my photo and Harry's find the information helpful.