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Tinkerboo is a 4-year-old, spayed female Cocker Spaniel. As a puppy, she was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic condition called Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS)* which limits her ability to feel sensations, including pain, in the peripheral body parts such as the paws and tail. Due to this lack of feeling, patients with AMS will start chewing themselves, often to the point of gnawing off their own claws or part of the foot in some cases. Most AMS patients do not live longer than one year of age. Sadly, the majority of Tinkerboo’s littermates were also diagnosed with the condition and most were affected so severely that the condition could not be managed and they had to be euthanised.
When Tinkerboo was less than a year old, her left hind leg was amputated due to a complicated fracture. Since then, she has been prone to wounds on the remaining hind paw because of the change in weight bearing and her lack of feeling in this foot. When she was referred to Dr Georga Karbe in the Soft Tissue Surgery Team at Dick White Referrals, a wound over her right paw had been getting worse over the previous 2 weeks despite all treatment attempts made by her owner and primary care vet.
When Georga examined Tinkerboo’s foot, one of the toes was dead and the skin around it was falling off, exposing further bones, tendons and muscles. Under general anaesthesia, the toe had to be removed but there was not enough healthy skin to cover the wound. Extensive care of this wound was needed for several weeks until surgery was performed to transplant skin from the side of her ribcage to the foot. After nearly a month’s stay at DWR, Tinkerboo returned home for further out-patient wound care. Georga and the entire team had been charmed by Tinkerboo while caring for her and were happy to see her well enough to return home.
Thankfully, she has now made a full recovery and is getting fitted for a special boot to protect her foot in the future. Her owner continues to be very vigilant and makes sure that Tinkerboo does not cause any harm to her only remaining hind paw.
Because AMS is hereditary, it is important that affected dogs are not used for breeding. Therefore, the Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association run a testing scheme to identify the markers of the condition in high risk breeds, so that breeders can make an informed decision about the viability of breeding from their own dogs.
* Further information about AMS can be found by visiting the following websites: