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How do I know my whippet has a corn?

George in his short life has had several trips to the vet, one as an emergency on a snowy night when he had the beginning of Giardia. Then we had the spider bite, but that’s a topic for another post!

The latest trip was due to intermittent lameness. This was on his left front leg when he became totally lame the day after Winnie had bowled him over in the field – as she so often does – he had squealed at the time returning to me limping and not wanting to weight bear on that leg.

These symptoms suggested to our vet the next day that he might have fractured his shoulder – she felt clicking and he was clearly not happy with her moving his leg. Not your classic corn presentation.

The next day we were referred to a specialist orthopaedic vet who agreed, it did seem he had hurt his shoulder. We left him there to have x-rays and I mentioned in passing that he had had a previous op on that foot to remove ‘foreign debris from his paw pad just 5 months earlier.

Later that day we were told the good news, no shoulder fracture and neither did he have a growth or signs of anything sinister. But the vet had removed a painful CORN from his pad!!

When George had the ‘foreign debris removed from his pad I did a lot of research on corns because at that time he presented the classic symptoms:

  • Lameness on hard ground
  • Zero lameness on soft ground
  • Tenderness when the pad was touched
  • A tiny round mark on his pad.

This time, he had shown a little bit of lameness on hard ground, but as we knew the vet had not removed all of the ‘foreign debris’ thought to be glass from the biopsy – that his intermittent lameness was because something was still lodge in the pad, but on applying pressure to that pad he did not wince – the corn was on the pad next to it. There is a school of thought that a corn will develop on a pad that is being favoured over another, so taking more of the weight, maybe this is why he got the corn on the next pad – who knows!

So, what are corns and how do I know if my whippet has one?

Corns are ‘hard areas on pads’ a bit like hard skin on your feet. Only greyhounds and whippets get them and it is thought to be due to the lack of fatty tissue in the pads of these hounds some believe they develop due to a virus. I have read that it is thought to do with the way the weight is distributed on their small feet compared to other breeds. They are prone to recurrence and are extremely painful. There is not a great deal of evidence to support the virus theory. They often start as a dark area the size of a pin head, which I have heard can be seen more clearly by rubbing toothpaste on the pad.

What can you do if your whippet presents the symptoms?

Certainly, I would visit your vet to get a diagnosis, then you can decide whether to have it surgically removed as we did or go down the non-surgical route.

Many people swear by boots – they were not successful for us, as soon as G started to zoom about, off came the boots! They were useful for when he had the bandage on to keep it dry but that’s about it.

Lots of greyhound owners believe in hulling – soaking the pad in Epsom salts until it is soft enough to remove – no surgery required – but please do google it! There is a fantastic group on Facebook called Greyhounds with Corns.

Others have advised me to apply E45 cream to George’s pads – we are doing this and hoping it will help.

I have read good things about Propolis tincture – bee sting tincture has been successfully used as a non surgical way to remove a corn, but you need to know that your dog is not allergic to bee stings! How you would know this I don’t have a clue.

The most drastic solution is to have the tendon cut so that there is less pressure on the pad therefore not allowing the corn to develop in the first place, but this really is an option that is in its infancy but I have read good things about it and it is something we might consider for G if the corn returns. He is such a young dog to be plagued by this painful condition.

So, if your hound is intermittently lame, or lame on hard surfaces not soft, I would explore the corn connection.