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A corn is a hard circular area of thickened pad tissue that occurs in the toe pads of sight hounds and is found mainly in the pads of the central toes in the front limbs. It causes severe lameness especially when walking on hard uneven surfaces with the dog becoming reluctant to go for walks or play.
Corns are caused, as in humans, by repeated mechanical trauma or pressure on the pad. They are definitely not caused by a virus or by foreign body penetration. If that pressure is reduced the corn will grow out and disappear.
There are many different treatments that are advocated including ointments to soften, burn out or dissolve the corn; conservative management involving regular paring and protective foot ware, and surgery by either hulling or excising. Even if the corn has been completely removed it will recur in more than 50% of cases within a year because the mechanical pressure has not been addressed. This new treatment removes pressure on the pad by cutting the tendons under the toe (flexor tendinotomy).
The surgery is simple and involves making a small incision less than a centimetre in length and the cutting the two flexor tendons. The incision requires two or three sutures. The corn is not pared or removed.
This causes the toe to flatten and the nail stick out. If the dog is lying on the side the toe will be elevated by about 30 degrees.
Recovery is rapid and by seven days post surgery most clients have reported a great improvement in lameness and demeanour. These dogs want to play and exercise! One racing greyhound with corns in both front feet returned to the track in 25 days.
At six to eight weeks the corn has usually fallen out and lameness disappeared. The longest follow up is nine months and that whippet is fine but long term results at this stage are unknown. Three dogs that remained unchanged had other foot issues besides the corn.


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