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I finally took my golden retriever in to get neutered since he recently turned 2. The real reason I finally went ahead with the surgery is because he grew what looked like another dark nail between two toes on his right front foot and it had become painful for him to walk at times. He also seemed to spend a lot of time licking at the thing. My vet looked at it and thought it could be a growth caused by a virus. He suggested surgery to remove it and make my dog comfortable and said that while it could grow back, it was not likely. Since this weird nail was being removed, I agreed to neuter my dog as well. What do you think, will this funky nail grow back? What is the cause of what my dog developed and how common is this? Since the surgery, my dog has been much more comfortable at home, and we should get the biopsy back any day now. Was this biopsy expense really necessary? While I’m asking, are there any negative effects to getting my dog neutered? Thanks for your guidance.
While not very common, the lesion you describe is not that unusual. I have seen them periodically throughout my career. It sounds as if your dog developed something known as a cutaneous horn. These often develop secondary to a virus known as a papillomavirus. There are other names used to describe these lesions as well and the lesions can develop anywhere on the back, the tail or the legs. Some of the names include cornified epithelioma, footpad hyperkeratosis if it emanated from the pad, or keratoacanthoma. Oncology studies suggest they are more common in male dogs and that fits in your case. When located between the toes, it can be mistaken for an extra nail. These growths are usually benign but if not surgically removed can turn into a malignancy as well, such as a squamous cell carcinoma and chronic chewing by a dog or irritating the lesion can lead to secondary infections. Usually seen in middle-aged dogs, I am surprised that your younger dog developed this growth, but anything is possible. If properly excised with good margins, it should not grow back and this is another reason, besides being sure of the diagnosis, why the biopsy was recommended and done. What’s most important is that your dog is now comfortable, and everything seems to be on the mend. As for the neutering, there are no specific negative effects to it and, if anything, it will improve your dog’s health over the long term.
dr John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.