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Update on Corns and Greyhounds

Updated on October 12, 2016

Corns have been a great challenge for us over the last several years. We have attempted many different ways to try and eradicate the corn completely but none of them have been 100% successful. We definitely can't pat ourselves on the back but it wasn't for lack of trying!

Having a corn is like walking with a pebble taped to your toe. It hurts and can be very debilitating. Although it is easy to do a temporary fix, the more aggressive that fix is within reason, the fewer times you will need to visit the vet to have it redone.

Corns generally give us two presentations. One is raised up from the toe pad and you can usually catch the edge of it with your fingernail and sometimes even dig some of it out. The other presentation is flat, generally round and very thin. This particular kind of corn does not have an edge that you can get a fingernail under. When we begin a procedure, we will first apply alcohol to the pad. The alcohol actually helps us to define the area that we have to work within.

We currently use a dental elevator to dig underneath the corn to get all of the gristly material out. Sometimes we will then follow up with a scalpel, not cutting into the flesh but just trimming the edges. After that, we use the dremel to smooth the area and grind it down.

The corn may depend on the actual elevator we use and during the process we may use alternate elevators with different widths. It is important that the elevator has a generally sharper edge. Normally, when we push the elevator under the corn we will use forceps to hold what has become a flap and trim the flap as close to the edge as possible with a scalpel. The scalpel is then used to cut away as much as the rough edge around the excised material. This is followed by a Dremel which will make everything nice and smooth. When finished, you should have what looks like a little cup. The more material you are able to successfully remove will generally mean that it will take longer to re-grow. At this point we have not come up with a solution to permanently eliminate this annoying and debilitating corn factor. I recently attended a lecture given by Dr. James Radcliffe of Town and Country Animal Hospital. His approach involved digging the corn down to the tendon and suturing the pad closed. From what he told me, the corns do not return. We will probably try this technique in the future to see if we can replicate it. Depending on how many corns there are on any given dog, if they are very debilitating it sometimes is advisable that we amputate the entire toe. This may sound radical, but ultimately if one toe is removed from one paw, it does not destabilize the dog.

Corn removal can often be done by adopters, you need the right equipment, a steady hand, a dog that will cooperate with you, and the proper way to hold it in place. It can be done on a granite kitchen counter top or even a card table. If the dog is laying down, someone leans over the dog and holds the lower legs. If you properly hold the two lower legs while going over the upper legs, you will be in control and in a position to do the procedure, as demonstrated by the photo. Most greyhounds will permit you to do it because it is often not painful. No anesthesia protocol is necessary.

David Wolf
National Greyhound Adoption Program


Note the arm position: the left arm is under the neck, while the right arm is restraining the back legs. If needed, Jessie can lean her chest on top for more control.

Corns Corns Corns Corns Corns Corns Corns
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