Using a dental root elevator to remove footpad corns in dogs: Two practitioners' experience - Veterinary Medicine
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Using a dental root elevator to remove footpad corns in dogs: Two practitioners' experience
While little is known about footpad corns except that they are painful, varying treatment methods exist. But which one should you use? To help you decide, these practitioners outline the various methods and share a new technique they developed.


Flattening, softening, or padding corns

Flattening corns by using a rotary tool to erode or grind them every few weeks reduces load transmission through the footpad and can alleviate some pain. Softening corns can also alleviate pressure and can be accomplished through daily application of a keratolytic agent (KeraSolv gel—DVM Pharmaceuticals) (salicylic acid, sodium lactate, and urea) or over-the-counter corn treatment products for people. In addition, many dogs benefit from avoiding pavement or wearing padded boots (e.g. Thera-Paw—Thera-Paw).

Duct tape

Steps in the Dental Root Elevator Technique
Applying duct tape to lesions has been reported to be effective in treating warts in people.5,6 Corns are grossly similar to warts, but since we do not know what causes corns, we do not know if they are similar in nature to warts in people. Using duct tape to treat canine digital corns has not been studied. In our experience this treatment may benefit some dogs; however, it is difficult to keep the duct tape in place on the corn for a sufficient period of time.

Dental root elevator technique

A corn treatment technique developed by one of the authors (Macherey) is to remove the lesion's hard core with a sharp flat-tipped dental root elevator (see boxed text "Steps in the Dental Root Elevator Technique"). The size of the dental root elevator will vary based on the corn's size. With this technique, dogs usually require no sedation, pain medication, or local anesthesia and may remain standing for the entire procedure. However, dogs that are extremely fearful or aggressive or that are in a lot of pain may require sedation, pain medication, or local anesthesia.

The entire procedure should take less than five minutes. After surgery, monitor dogs for improvement in lameness (most dogs walk out better than they walk in). No physical therapy or medication is required. Over several weeks to months or in as little as three weeks, the corn may return, and the procedure can be repeated.

Carol L. Macherey, DVM
Grassmere Animal Hospital
3926 Nolensville Road
Nashville, TN 37211

William E. Feeman III, DVM
Animal Medical Centre of Medina
1060 South Court St.
Medina, OH 44256


1. Swaim SF, Amalsadvala T, Marghitu DB, et al. Pressure reduction effects of subdermal silicone block gel particle implantation: a preliminary study. Wounds 2004;16:299-312.

2. Borghese IF. Corns and warts: definitions, causes, and treatments. Celebrating Greyhounds 2003;8:48-51.

3. Andelman NC. Dermatology. In: Bloomberg MS, Dee JF, Taylor RA, eds. Canine sports medicine and surgery. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 1998;35-44.

4. Blythe LL, Gannon JR, Craig AM. In: Care of the racing greyhound: guide for trainers, breeders and veterinarians. Santa Barbara, CA: Veterinary Practice Publishing Co, 1994;185-229.

5. Lynch TJ. Duct tape removes warts. J Fam Pract 2003;52:111-112.

6. Focht DR III, Spicer C, Fairchok MP. The efficacy of duct tape vs cryotherapy in the treatment of verruca vulgaris (the common wart). Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2002;156:971-974.


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