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Broken Nails in Dogs

One common issue that many dog owners may encounter is broken nails in their furry companions. This can be a painful and uncomfortable experience for dogs, often requiring prompt attention from a veterinarian to prevent further complications. Today, our Visalia vets will discuss broken nails in dogs, what to do about them, and how to prevent an infection.

The Importance of Addressing Broken Nails in Dogs

Broken nails in dogs can be quite painful and can lead to infection if not properly addressed. Additionally, broken nails can affect a dog's ability to walk properly, causing discomfort and potentially leading to other health issues, such as joint problems and muscle strains.

When a dog has a broken nail at the base, it can expose the sensitive quick (the sensitive tissue inside the nail), causing pain and discomfort for them. In addition to the immediate injury, the broken nail can create an entry point for bacteria or fungi to enter the nail bed, leading to potential infections.

If left untreated, an infected broken nail can result in swelling, redness, and pus discharge around the affected area. The infection may spread to other parts of the paw or even throughout the body if not properly addressed by a veterinarian. It is important to monitor your dog's broken nails closely and seek prompt medical attention if any signs of infection develop to prevent further complications. 

Causes of Broken Nails in Dogs

One common cause of broken nails in dogs is trauma, such as catching a nail on something sharp or getting it caught in a door. This can result in the nail breaking or tearing, causing pain and potential infection. 

Another common cause is overgrown nails that become too long and are more prone to breaking or splitting. This is why it’s important to regularly trim your dog's nails to prevent this from happening.

Additionally, certain medical conditions, such as fungal infections or nutritional deficiencies, can weaken a dog's nails, making them more susceptible to breaking. It’s important to monitor your dog's overall health and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to their nail problems. Regular grooming and maintenance of your dog's nails can help prevent broken nails and keep the nail healthy and strong.

Signs Your Dog Has Broken a Nail

Nail breaks often happen suddenly, and it is often accompanied by a yelp or your dog's broken nail bleeding. Some more common signs of a nail break include:

  • Visibly broken or cracked nails 
  • Limping
  • Chewing or licking the paw
  • Sensitivity when you touch the paw
  • Pus or crust around the nail 
  • Brittle nails 
  • Swollen nail beds or paws

Treatment for a Dog's Broken Nail

Treatment options for broken nails in dogs depend on the severity of the injury. For minor breaks or cracks, trimming the nail to remove any jagged edges and applying a styptic powder to stop bleeding may be enough. 

In more severe cases, where the nail is completely torn off or there is significant bleeding, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

In cases where the broken nail has exposed the quick, your veterinarian may need to cauterize the area to stop bleeding and prevent infection. They may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection and pain medication to keep your dog comfortable during healing. Your vet may also recommend keeping the affected paw clean and bandaged until the nail has fully healed to prevent further injury or infection. 

It is important to follow your vet's instructions carefully to ensure proper healing and prevent complications.

Is a broken nail in dogs ever considered an emergency?

A broken nail in a dog can be considered an emergency if it is causing excessive bleeding or if the nail is severely fractured. In these cases, immediate veterinary attention is necessary to stop the bleeding and prevent infection.

Preventing Broken Nails in Dogs

There are three great ways you can make sure that your dog doesn't break a nail.

  1. Nail Trims: Regular nail trims are essential for preventing broken nails in dogs. Overgrown nails are more likely to snag and break, so be sure to trim your dog's nails every 2-4 weeks depending on their activity level.
  2. Exercise: Providing your dog with plenty of opportunities for exercise can also help prevent broken nails. Regular physical activity helps keep your dog's nails naturally worn down, reducing the risk of them becoming too long and prone to breaking.
  3. Be Mindful of Surfaces: Avoid having your dog walk on rough or abrasive surfaces. These can cause excessive wear and tear on your dog's nails, leading to potential breaks. If outside, consider using nail caps or booties to protect your dog's nails.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Accidents can still happen even if you take great care of your pet's paws. If your dog breaks a nail, don't hesitate to contact our veterinarians at Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services. We are always available to assist you and your beloved pet.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services is a pet emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs in the Visalia area. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

Contact (559) 739-7054