A retrospective study was just published (see reference below) that examined
digit injuries in dogs training and competing in agility
. The goal of the study was to identify potential risk factors for digit injuries in these dogs.
The study used an extensive, internet-based survey in which owners/handlers were asked questions related to the nature of their dogs’ digit injuries, their dogs’ physical description including the feet, the possible cause and circumstances of the injuries, the dogs’ agility training and performance characteristics, and dog and owner demographic information. Note that confirmation of a digit injury by a veterinarian was not required.
Completed surveys were received for 207 dogs with and 874 dogs without digit injuries.
digits (outside toes) were the most commonly injured
, and those injuries were twice as common in the front feet as compared to the rear feet.
Dewclaws were the least commonly injured digit
(occurring in 7.3% of dogs that had dewclaws). The two most common injuries were fractures (32.5% of injuries) and sprains/strains (27.8%).
After performing a multivarable logistic regression analysis (which takes into account the effects that multiple contributing factors might have on the outcome),
the following factors were associated with significantly increased odds of a digit injury:
- Being a Border Collie (Odds Ratio, 2.4). This means that Border Collies were 2.4 times more likely to experience a toe injury than other breeds.
- Having long nails (Odds Ratio = 2.4)
- Not having front dewclaws (Odds Ratio = 1.9)
- Higher weight-to-height ratio (Odds Ratio = 1.5)
The following factor was associated with significantly
odds of injury:
- Increasing age of the dog (Odds Ratio = 0.8)
The authors state that the results of this study should be cautiously interpreted because of potential respondent and recall bias and lack of review of medical records. With that in mind, they concluded that retaining healthy dewclaws, maintaining lean body mass, and trimming nails short for training and competition may decrease the likelihood of digit injuries in agility dogs.