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Dog toe xray.

Species: Dog
Breed: Boxer
Age: 2-5 years



I took my dog Cooper to the vet last week and he believed he had a bone infection in his toe. I was looking at the X-ray and noticed that the nail on the toe in question is a different color then all the rest. This nail was smashes by a rocking chair when he was a puppy. Could the nail be causing the infection? Why is the nail a different color then the rest? The toe is seems larger the the identical one on the opposite foot and seems inflexible in comparison. I have a picture of the nail that I would like to attach, but don't see a field to do so.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for sending the xray of your dog's foot. This really helps me to answer your question.

I've cropped the photo and circled the area that we are worried about:

toe xray on a dog

I am guessing that this actually has nothing to do with Cooper's previous injury to that toe.

What we are seeing on this xray is that the last bone on the toe that is circled is extremely distorted when you compare it to the other toes. There are two things that can cause an xray that looks like this. A bone infection is possible. In my experience the more common reason for a toe to look like this is a bone cancer. The most common type of bone cancer that can look like this is something called a squamous cell carcinoma.

The good news is that if this is a squamous cell carcinoma, it usually can be cured by having your vet surgically removing the toe. Occasionally when a dog has this problem then we will see it appear in another toe, but most of the time doing surgery cures the problem.

When I see dogs with a bone tumor they will often have a swollen toe, and yes, the nail can be a different color than the rest. Often that nail is longer than the rest.

Unfortunately, the only way to distinguish an infection from a tumor is to send the bone tissue away for a pathologist to analyze it. This means that surgery would be necessary to get a diagnosis.

I think that it is a reasonable plan to try antibiotics and see what happens. Your vet will likely want to take another xray once the antibiotics are done. If there are no obvious changes though they will probably recommend surgery.

I hope things go ok!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

That is exactly the diagnosis that my local vet game me last week. We decided to try the antibiotics and come back for a follow up. If we do not see any improvement we are going to schedual the surgery. Thanks for you feedback, I really appreciate it.


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.