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-   -   Dog with nerve damage in paw - Answered by Dr. Van Lienden (http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=10541)

mattmdjj December 20th, 2004 03:47 PM

Dog with nerve damage in paw - Answered by Dr. Van Lienden
 
Hi, my dog was hit by a car 5 weeks ago. He now has nerve damage to his right-front paw. He has feeling in the outside of the paw, but the nerve that controls the motion of the paw itself has no feeling (the one down the middle), so he can't walk normally without the help of a support/splint or a boot of some kind on that paw.
I took him to a veterinary neurologist three weeks ago, and have spared no expense in his medical care since the accident.

The neurologist said that it was possible the nerve might regenerate/repair itself, but that if Charlie (the dog) started to chew on the paw then amputation was the best recommendation. The neurologist didn't seem to have a lot of experience with nerve damage, and had no opinion on an alternative treatment (accupuncture, holistic healing, or whatever else is available). Charlie's regular vet had even less experience, and recommended amputation before even seeing the x-rays or anything! Surgery of any kind is out of the question because of Charlie's size (about six pounds). Obviously I'm a little frustrated with them both, and am looking for someone with some REAL experience with this type of problem or just some advice from someone with some experience.

He started to chew on the paw less than a week ago, and has broken the first few layers of skin near the joint. I have since been washing it with disinfectant soap and applying neosporin several times per day, and Charlie now has a collar on to prevent him from chewing the leg during the day. It's already starting to heal.

With all that being said, my questions are these:

Does anyone have any experience with this? Do you know of any alternative treatments that I didn't mention for this type of injury? Money isn't the issue, it's the quality of life for my dog. I can't keep a collar on him all day long for the rest of his life! I also don't want to simply give up trying and amputate the leg when there could be something out there that could help him. I know he'll adapt a lot quicker than I will to having three legs, but why do that if something can be done to save it? He's getting exercise on it every day, several times per day (being forced to use it by walking slowly with the paw in a support boot).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Matt & Charlie

Trinitie December 20th, 2004 04:06 PM

I'm so sorry to hear of Charlie's horrible accident.

The fact Charlie is paying attention to his paw is a good thing, even though he's causing himself damage. The way I see it, and I'm not a vet, is the paw is starting to tingle, making him try to stop the "itch". Of course he can't, so he continues to chew it in futile hopes it'll stop.

I would think that acupuncture would be a viable alternative to help with the tingling. I think amputation is a bit premature at this stage. After all, it's only been 5 weeks. I think he's made remarkable progress and deserves to see if the feeling comes back. Please think of acupuncture before you opt for amputation! There are many people who swear by it! I'm sure your vet could direct you to someone in a place of authority who could provide information about it, since your vet can't. Good luck and please keep us posted on his recovery!

mattmdjj December 20th, 2004 04:12 PM

Trinitie,

Thank you for responding. Do you think that's the reason? The vet told me that when the feeling comes back that it does not itch or tingle (that was one of my first questions, because I was concerned about chewing from that perspective) and I have been wondering whether that's accurate or not. My vet is definitely inexperienced.

I am trying to find a vet who does accupuncture down here (Miami, FL) to make an appointment. Maybe there are some here who can give some suggestions (I would even be open to a phone consultation).

Matt

BMDLuver December 20th, 2004 05:16 PM

idea
 
Perhaps you should post this also on Petfinder.com message board. It seems to serve a broader area of the United States and perhaps a rescue may have some suggestions for alternative vets in your area?

Nice to see someone who loves their pet and is willing to do what is in his best interest. :thumbs up

Karin December 20th, 2004 05:33 PM

[QUOTE=mattmdjj]Trinitie,

Thank you for responding. Do you think that's the reason? The vet told me that when the feeling comes back that it does not itch or tingle (that was one of my first questions, because I was concerned about chewing from that perspective) and I have been wondering whether that's accurate or not. My vet is definitely inexperienced.

I am trying to find a vet who does accupuncture down here (Miami, FL) to make an appointment. Maybe there are some here who can give some suggestions (I would even be open to a phone consultation).

Matt[/QUOTE]

Try calling an equine vet...the have more equine vet's with accupuncture experience than small animal vet's in this state. There is also the University Of Florida vet college.

Unfortunatly the few case I have seen like yours does result in amputation.

mattmdjj December 20th, 2004 11:53 PM

Thank you to you all for your replies. I will try posting on Petfinder and also look for equine vets in my area who have more experience with nerve damage.

Thanks again...

Bugsy December 21st, 2004 12:09 AM

Matt

A big (((Hug))) for Charlie. Please don't give up... exhaust all avenues before making a decision and please keep us posted! :grouphug:

CyberKitten December 21st, 2004 12:31 AM

I am hardly a vet but I cannot imagine recommending amputation so early and before ruling out other options. Check with the vet school that Karin suggested. I hope this does not sound crass but often, they are looking for cases where they can help an animal and learn at the same time!

mastifflover December 21st, 2004 09:29 AM

I am so sorry about your dog but I agree I would exhaust all other avenues. But I would most definitely contact the veterinary shool in your area. They really do give their all

Trinitie December 21st, 2004 10:31 AM

[QUOTE=mattmdjj]The vet told me that when the feeling comes back that it does not itch or tingle (that was one of my first questions, because I was concerned about chewing from that perspective) and I have been wondering whether that's accurate or not. My vet is definitely inexperienced.[/QUOTE]

I think you have a vet who needs to learn a bit more before giving advice such as amputation! Amputation is ALWAYS a last resort.

I think your Charlie IS experiencing some sort of tingling/sensations. I have nerve damage to my left foot from a bad break many years back. While I can use the foot, it always has that "not quite awake" feel to it. Kind of tingly. Since nerves are the same in any species, I'd think that it's totally possible to have the same sensations in animals that people feel. Having said that, I'd think that if we get tingles when a limb wakes up, it would most likely feel the same way for the animal. They can't tell us what it feels like, so we have to rely on their actions. Chewing his foot makes me think he can feel something and can't quite make heads or tails of it.
I sure hope you find a vet who can do acupuncture. I think Charlie will get a great amount of help from it.

You're such a good dad to care so much. It's always nice to hear from caring parents! Keep us posted on Charlie's progress.

db7 December 21st, 2004 11:28 AM

Ditto, call a vet college. The dog will chew the paw if there is no feeling. So your thought that it is beginning to heal is not necessarily so.

Lucky Rescue December 21st, 2004 02:37 PM

[QUOTE]The neurologist said that it was possible the nerve might regenerate/repair itself, but that if Charlie (the dog) started to chew on the paw then amputation was the best recommendation.[/QUOTE]

I agree with this. The nerve will either regenerate and heal, or it won't. As far as I know, there is no way to heal or repair nerves.

If it doesn't the dog will chew it because it has no feeling and he thinks it's some kind of foreign object stuck to him.

Sorry this happened!

mattmdjj December 21st, 2004 10:33 PM

Lucky,

So you think that if he's chewing at his paw that the nerve won't regenerate? I saw another neurologist with Charlie today and that was his opinion as well. However, I want to get three or four independent opinions before I make any kind of decision.

thanks in advance for your response,

Matt

BMDLuver December 21st, 2004 10:35 PM

best of luck
 
Best of luck Matt. Good of you to look into it thoroughly before making the decision.

db7 December 22nd, 2004 12:30 AM

To be clear, You can't tell anything from the dog chewing the paw except things aren't right. Maybe no feeling, maybe too much feeling - pain, maybe healing......

Karin December 23rd, 2004 01:41 PM

[QUOTE=mattmdjj]Lucky,

So you think that if he's chewing at his paw that the nerve won't regenerate? I saw another neurologist with Charlie today and that was his opinion as well. However, I want to get three or four independent opinions before I make any kind of decision.

thanks in advance for your response,

Matt[/QUOTE]

You can also try the Florida Vet Speciality Lab in St. Pete/Tampa. They opened a new branch in Maitland north of Orlando. You will need a referral from a vet. This is a group of specialists that take nothing but the most difficult cases...U of F refers clients there as well...

db7 December 23rd, 2004 02:11 PM

[quote]there is no way to heal or repair nerves[/quote]

Ironically, it is quite probable that some researcher out there is applying stem cells to dogs to do just that.

Karin December 23rd, 2004 02:27 PM

[QUOTE=db7]Ironically, it is quite probable that some researcher out there is applying stem cells to dogs to do just that.[/QUOTE]

Probable, yes. But unlikely in this dogs lifetime. Or yours or mine too.

The "real" picture is what is needed now. Distance from the home base and help for the puppers within the next 6 months.

petdr January 5th, 2005 06:20 AM

Dog has nerve damage
 
Nerve damage is frustrating (I have personal experience: three years ago I managed to amputate three fingers on my right hand in an industrial fan; fortunately the fingers were re-attached, but nerve damage is still present. I am still able to perform surgical procedures, etc., however, a sensory deficit is still present, but improving.)

If the nerve sheath and nerve were lacerated or torn, then it is imperative for the sheath to be repaired. The nerve sheath acts as a conduit and insulator for the nerve to travel within. If the sheath and nerve are not continous any longer, then the nerve simply floats and the ends can not find each other to reattach. If the free ends of the nerve sheath are brought together (via microsurgery), then the nerve has a chance to knit.

Now for the frustrating part: nerve cells have very long roots/tendrils, and it takes a very long time for the nerve root to grow back, approx. 1mm per day. These nerve roots/tendrils are rather long--even up to 2-3 feet (obviously not in your small dog, but you get the idea).

The area that was cut/lacerated/damaged that is farthest away from the main body of the nerve cell (which is closer to the spinal cord) will die. Only time will allow the regrowth of the nerve root/tendril to the area of innervation (the target muscle area/etc. where the nerve leaves its effect), and it is essential for this nerve to have a pathway of regrowth--the previously mentioned nerve sheath. Unfortunately, there are some cases where the nerve has been irreparibly damaged; in these cases nerve transplant has been attempted.

I don't have high hopes for holistic treatments because they can not mend a sheath. It is entirely possible that the nerve sheath is still intact in your dog, then it simply time before the nerve heals. If you use holistic/alternative treatments, and the nerve knits, then one may have the impression that these alternative treatments did the healing, when instead it would have occured anyway.

If you feel better using alternatives, then go ahead, but make certain nothing toxic to nerve tissue is used. Sometimes doing nothing is the better path, and letting the body heal itself.

As to the self-mutilation, there will be strange sensations from the limb, even phantom pain (where the mind feels pain from an area that really doesn't have nerve supply. The new signal issues from the damaged site (this can be a long distance from its original normal end point) and is interpreted by the brain as coming from the original undamaged site, much as an amputee who insists that he can still feel a missing limb. The nerve registers still on the brain, but the original area is non-existent.

Occasionally drugs such as narcotics are used to address this, sometimes local nerve blocks, sometimes mild electrical current to confuse the brain by sending another nerve signal, sometimes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Prozac, etc.). In people, bio-feedback, etc. seems helpful.

You may need to keep the collar on your little guy for 3-6 months during the
healing phase.

Take-home message: need to assess if the nerve sheath is intact (sounds like it is), and need to control self-mutilation, need to be patient and constantly reasses the little fellow. Physical therapy will be an important component of care, so that muscle atrophy does not occur, and to maintain some sense of well-being. Hope this helps.

Dr. Van Lienden

Dr. Raymond Van Lienden DVM
The Animal Clinic of Clifton
12702 Chapel Road, Clifton
Virginia, U.S.A. 20124
703-802-0490

marc alex April 19th, 2005 02:48 AM

Maybe nerve damage from dog shoe?
 
My dog Bear is 11 yrs old, 80 pound lab/shep mix. Back legs have been getting weak. I tried a set of dog shoes on hind legs so that his feet won't slip from under him on the hardwood floor. I thought I had gotten him used to the shoes but was wrong. After a day at work I came home and he'd chewed one shoe off and had the other pulled down tight past the ankle and pinching those 4 long skinny bones that go to his toes. He must have been working on the 20" velcro strap all day long. But because it wraps around so many times and the company recommends putting it on real tight, he couldn't get it off his foot. I did so immediately and noticed his foot was pretty swollen.

He limped on it then. It's been a couple weeks and he is still favoring the other leg. I've also noticed him licking it lately. As though he didn't have enough problems with his hind end being so weak. I feel horrible about trying those stupid shoes. He is walking slower than ever now.

Can a vet check for nerve damage? Treat it? I don't know what I should do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. What is the likelyhood that I've caused him some permanent damage?

Prin April 19th, 2005 12:08 PM

I would ask the vet about the underlying problem too. Could be spinal cord damage or even Wobbler's disease. I don't know how a vet would check for nerve damage, but I don't know who else would be able to do it, so it's worth a try.

Terre December 31st, 2005 03:27 PM

[COLOR="DarkOrange"][SIZE="3"][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Matt, I am interested in what happens to Charlie as my dog, Fancy may have the same problem. She jumped out of our truck while we were driving down the highway and is badly injured. She is in the hospital now and will see the neurologist tomorrow morning. Her front paw was badly cut and since she wants to curl it back, the vet is worried about nerve damage. He did mention fusion so that the paw is always in the right position, and she can walk, but will not be able to run. I'm hoping that something can be done other than amputation. She weighs 125 pounds and I'm afraid that if they amputate her front leg she will be falling forward all the time.

Good luck with Charlie and keep posting to let us know how he does.

Terre[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR]:fingerscr

Prin December 31st, 2005 06:53 PM

Sorry but he hasn't been back since Dec 2004, so I don't think you'll get your update.:(

t.pettet December 31st, 2005 07:41 PM

nerve damage in paw
 
Hi Matt, have you tried any physio in warm water? Had a foster westie-mix years ago who was recovering from surgery after patella (knee) damage from being kicked by his previous owner who didn't seek immediate medical attention so by the time he underwent surgery he'd been favouring it for over a month. When he arrived would just tuck up the leg close to the body, refused to use it, so 2-3 times a day (vet's recommendation) I would fill up the bath with warm water and make him do laps. I started to notice after the 5th day of therapy the leg was more flexible and he wasn't holding it so close to his body plus in his sleep he started to extend it very gradually. Its alot of effort and you'll have a soggy dog everyday for a while but it might be a remedy as he'll have to flex and move the paw while swimming. Fortunately for me the weather turned warm and I could take him into the lake and he'd dog-paddle in circles around me. His water physio lasted about 1 month and 1/2 before he started really using the leg. The poor guy had to wear a cone during this time as he'd also chew at the surgery site. Good Luck.

LolaHess October 30th, 2006 04:21 PM

Progress with damaged paw?
 
My dog Lola was hit by a car last week and has a similar problem with her paw- the vet says there is nerve damage and that we may have to amputate it.

I wondered if your dog recovered, and if you knew of any physical therapy or other proactive things we could do to help Lola regain the use of her paw.

Any suggestions are appreciated!

Thanks.

the gang October 30th, 2006 05:15 PM

just a shot in the dark, but you might want the dog to see a chryo, my min pin was parillzed and it was----- the chryo that made a world of differance good luck brenda and the 4 pins.:fingerscr

dinoclassic56 May 13th, 2007 09:41 PM

Nerve damage paw
 
I to have a dog with a recent car accident that has a nerve damaged front paw. Can you tell me about your boot you have for him...

I bought one form handicapp pets... It helps him what, and I massage his leg and toes.. When he walks with out it he drags it and folds up in under him...
His shoulder is working, he has no feeling in the paw itself,,, this happen a week ago. Our vet send watch and wait but he is figuring to amputate as well.

Let me know what you have learned.
Oddie is a 8 month old golden retriever...
thanks for your help and all of that of others on this topic

tycats August 13th, 2007 12:38 PM

Nerve damage to cat's leg
 
[QUOTE=dinoclassic56;425198]I to have a dog with a recent car accident that has a nerve damaged front paw. Can you tell me about your boot you have for him...

I bought one form handicapp pets... It helps him what, and I massage his leg and toes.. When he walks with out it he drags it and folds up in under him...
His shoulder is working, he has no feeling in the paw itself,,, this happen a week ago. Our vet send watch and wait but he is figuring to amputate as well.

Let me know what you have learned.
Oddie is a 8 month old golden retriever...
thanks for your help and all of that of others on this topic[/QUOTE]

Hi Guys,

I am new to this forum but I found you when I was researching nerve damage to my cat's leg. Her history is that she had a bad fall in May which resulted in a fracture to her back femur. She had surgery to repair with a pin and wire. After 6 weeks the pin was removed and the fracture has healed just fine. The bad news is that she has no feeling from about her hock down. That means that although she can walk and run around the paw is folded under as she has no feeling or awareness perception in her paw. My vets are saying that there was possible sciatic nerve damage from the pin and that we should take a wait and see approach. They thought that a time frame of 8 weeks after the pin removal should show results. We are now at that time but she is still not using the paw. Fortunately she is not self mutilating and the skin on the top of the paw has calloused over and so there is no injury to skin. She is an indoor cat and only walks on carpet. I noticed that a vet had posted a reply saying that the nerves heal very slowly. Does anyone have any encouraging reports on their own pets nerve repair after an injury, and how long it took. I keep pinching her toes to see if the feeling is coming back, but I am not getting any reaction. She has started to shake that leg a little bit in the past couple of days - hopefully that may mean she is starting to feel something tingling. She is only a year old so she does have youth on her side.
Any info or experiences would be appreciated.
Thanks, Thai's Mom

krdahmer August 13th, 2007 01:07 PM

Um... I don't have any experience with this but you may want to start your own thread so that the dr's that post here are more likely to see it and reply. Best of luck to you I hope you and kitty find an answer.:pray:

lulusmum May 14th, 2010 09:36 AM

[QUOTE=mattmdjj;80263]Hi, my dog was hit by a car 5 weeks ago. He now has nerve damage to his right-front paw. He has feeling in the outside of the paw, but the nerve that controls the motion of the paw itself has no feeling (the one down the middle), so he can't walk normally without the help of a support/splint or a boot of some kind on that paw.
I took him to a veterinary neurologist three weeks ago, and have spared no expense in his medical care since the accident.

The neurologist said that it was possible the nerve might regenerate/repair itself, but that if Charlie (the dog) started to chew on the paw then amputation was the best recommendation. The neurologist didn't seem to have a lot of experience with nerve damage, and had no opinion on an alternative treatment (accupuncture, holistic healing, or whatever else is available). Charlie's regular vet had even less experience, and recommended amputation before even seeing the x-rays or anything! Surgery of any kind is out of the question because of Charlie's size (about six pounds). Obviously I'm a little frustrated with them both, and am looking for someone with some REAL experience with this type of problem or just some advice from someone with some experience.

He started to chew on the paw less than a week ago, and has broken the first few layers of skin near the joint. I have since been washing it with disinfectant soap and applying neosporin several times per day, and Charlie now has a collar on to prevent him from chewing the leg during the day. It's already starting to heal.

With all that being said, my questions are these:

Does anyone have any experience with this? Do you know of any alternative treatments that I didn't mention for this type of injury? Money isn't the issue, it's the quality of life for my dog. I can't keep a collar on him all day long for the rest of his life! I also don't want to simply give up trying and amputate the leg when there could be something out there that could help him. I know he'll adapt a lot quicker than I will to having three legs, but why do that if something can be done to save it? He's getting exercise on it every day, several times per day (being forced to use it by walking slowly with the paw in a support boot).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Matt & Charlie[/QUOTE]
Take a look at our dog Lulu's website she had a similar thing to your pet, see if anything on her site helps you, all the best
[URL="http://www.simplesite.com/lulus-tale"]http://www.simplesite.com/lulus-tale[/URL]


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