What causes corns in Greyhounds
Sadly, greyhounds are prone to irritating growths in their foot pads that are known as corns. I know the discomfort these nuisances can cause as my greyhound has had them for the past few years.
My adopted greyhound, Tipps, had a rocky time adjusting to domestic life. It was just as he learnt recall and was enjoying time off the lead that he developed these bothersome contusions.
We tried many remedies and unfortunately not a lot all of them were successful. I felt awful each time I put him through and experimental treatment. We even tried surgically removing them. Tipps had a miserably long time bandaged up and out of action while his pad healed. And the darn thing only grew back anyway.
There seems to be little information on what causes them. This makes it very difficult to know what preventative measures to take. Leaving you feeling a little useless and unable to help your beloved pooch.
What are Corns?
We know they are not a virus based infection as there could be just one dog effected in a multi-dog households. This indicates they are not contagious.
In my opinion, knowing we usually see corns in mature greyhounds, I believe it is down to "wear and tear". Something that comes with old age and a considerable amount of time spent on their feet.
Greyhounds are more susceptible to corns because their pads contain less subcutaneous tissue. This is padding that lays between the bone and the skin or, in a dogs case, the pad.
Human hands and feet develop hard skin calluses to protect the flesh beneath when repeatedly subjected to friction or rough pressure. This is what seems to be happening with greyhounds too.
Corns develop when perspiration softens the dead skin and then further harden tissue forms around it. However treating human corns seem to be a lot easier than treating our furry friends.
What to look for
They usually start out as small almost imperceptible blemishes on the base of the pad. You will almost certainly notice the lameness in your dog before you are able to spot a corn growing. If you do see your grey limping, especially over hard surfaces such as pavements and wooden flooring, more so than soft grass surfaces, you should check their pads.
Looking for a small circular marks. These marks are a lighter shade of colour and differ in texture to the rest of the pad. In some cases, you will see a swirling or whorl-like pattern. These hard balls cause huge discomfort when pressure is applied as the hard core of the corn is projected up the pad.
To put into context, it would be similar to having a stone in your shoe. A shoe that cannot be remove and worn all day - every day! The corn will grow in size and makes walking, running and even standing very painful.
Remedies and Treatments
There are ways to help reduce the discomfort without turning to surgically removal. The corn will not be removed entirely but some greyhounds continue to be happy and active using these methods.
Based on my history with Tipps and talking with owners, providing as much pain relief as possible is where you should start. It will sometimes result in the best solution for your greyhound.
My first advice would be to stick to soft surfaces, this will reduce the force impacted on the feet and will ease the discomfort considerably. If you are able to drive to a park or field or have direct access to nice grassy commons that would be ideal. For most of us, this is not possible, not for every walk, right?
My next suggestion would be to invest in a good bootie. Dog boots have been manufactured for a number of reasons to deal with unforgiving surfaces. They are an excellent option to greatly improve the quality of life for your dog if they are suffering from corns.
With careful selection, you can find boots that contain large amounts of toe padding giving them a springy, spongy landing with each step. After going through a few different shapes and sizes with Tipps, he now wears a boot on every walk. It is only removed once we get to a field and he runs freely. It is always replaced for the walk back home and with his boot in place, you wouldn't know he had any issues with his foot. Well, accept the big boot on it 🙂
One point I would like to make here is that it is very important you take your time to get the correct fitting. All the manufacturers we shopped with allowed for returns with packaging opened and clearly the boot had been tried on. If the boot is ill-fitted it will cause more damage to the other area of our grey's paw, through rubbing or reducing circulation. Eventually, they will not be happy to wear it and who would blame them if it starts to hurt more than the corn.
Preening and Trimming
My final suggestion is to do what you can to reduce the size of the corn. It is well known that corns can eventually "fall out" as a result of constant trimming. What I mean by trimming is using certain methods to take away parts of the corn where possible. Spending the time to attend to the corn(s) daily will lead to a much happier pet.
At their largest corns will form a dome like swell poking out of the pad. If you can file this down using a standard emery board, you will not only reduce the amount of hard tissue that is pushed back up into the pad, it will slowly reduce the growth. As the tissue is already dead, your grey should not mind this at all. Tipps is always quite compliant until I have taken off all the excess corn and start to file away at his pad. I get the look!
Although this might sound like it hurts, try to pick the corn out. Using your nails around the rim of the corn, gently tug at the edges. Over some time this will start to loosen the hardened lump by microscopic measurements. Removing a corn is the long game. Try not to get frustrated that you are unable to loosen and remove the corn in a week, or month or even couple of months. Just do what you can, and what your grey will allow you to, to reduce it and ease the discomfort.
Applying a moisturising liquid on a daily basis is also an excellent way to decrease the hardness of the corn. It may not penetrate the whole mass but it will make some of it softer. Applying a moisturiser should alway come after the filing.
Filing the corn when it is dry and hard is much easier than when wet and soft. It also makes much more sense for the softening liquid to be soaked into the newly exposed part of the corn, rather than you filing it away.
Oil based products are preferable here, Coconut oil would be my suggestion.
Surgery, Medication and Other Techniques
There are many options for corn removal and reduction remedies which could be the miracle medicine for your greyhound. My own personal experience has me advising you to steer clear of surgery. Your beloved hound will be placed under anesthetic, have a painful operation and a prolonged recovery time.
Most, if not all the other blogs I have read from other greyhound owners that have gone down this root have regretted it. Mainly because the corn always returns.
I have been reading more recently about laser surgery becoming popular and proving to be successful. Also, I see frequently that human corn and verruca treatment has worked on removing the corn - never to return. We did try corn treatment but did not entirely follow the instructions or continue it for recommended amount of time so feel that this could work if given the chance. The thing to remember is each dog is genetically different and could react to different solutions in different ways.
I would love to hear your stories and what has worked or is still working for you and yours.