As a dog owner, it really does feel like I’m a full-time parent at times. I have to make sure my dog doesn’t dirty the house or attempt to eat a dangerous foreign object.
There are times when I also have to dress and heal minor wounds like scrapes and scratches on my dog.
But what if your dog has a nail that is bent sideways? Is that something that you should be concerned about?
A dog’s nail can be bent from getting involved in an accident, nail diseases or even from a grooming session. Depending on where the nail is bent, it can be rather painful for the dog. Some severe cases will require medical attention to rectify the damaged nail.
In this article, we will take a look at the possible causes that can cause your dog’s nail to bent sideways and what you can do to help your dog.
The Anatomy Of A Dog’s Paw
It is important for you to have some knowledge of your dog’s paw to better understand the extent of the injury and to relay the information to your vet.
A dog’s paw is made up of these few parts:
- Digital pads
- Claws (nails)
- Carpal pad
- Metacarpal pad
The pads on your dog’s paw act as shock absorbers and padding when your dog is on the move. Dogs don’t have shoes so the pads help to protect your dog’s feet on rough or uneven terrain.
The claws or nails help your dog to get a good grip on the group when running. The claws also come in handy when your dog is digging for something.
The majority of dog breeds have 5 toes on the front paws and 4 toes on the hind paws. Each nail is connected to a toe via a nail bed which contains nerve endings and blood vessels.
If you were to spread your dog’s toes apart, you also notice that your dog has webbed feet. The webbing helps with digging, swimming and support.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bend Nail?
The good thing about your dog’s nails being out in the open makes it a lot easier to spot any injuries or abnormalities.
I wouldn’t really pay much attention to my dog’s feet unless it looks like he is having some problems in that area.
Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Change in gait
- Excessive licking and biting of a paw
- Pus or discharge
- Not allowing you to touch its paw
If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms, it might be worthwhile taking a closer look at all its paws to see if there’s an injury.
What Are The Possible Causes Of A Bent Nail?
There are several reasons that can cause your dog’s nail to be bent. Some can be prevented while others can’t.
This is probably the most common reason that can cause your dog’s nails or nail to be bent sideways.
Dogs are energetic and boisterous creatures that are always full of energy. With all the jumping, running and playing that they do, it is only a matter of time before there’s an injured nail.
If you accidentally stepped on your dog’s paw, you can also cause some damage to its nails if the force is strong enough.
My friend’s chihuahua got an entire nail ripped out when it leaped off the couch with its nail stuck to the fabric. Suffice to say, it was a painful and bloody experience for the poor dog.
My own dog got his nail stuck in the sliding track of my patio door which resulted in a badly split nail and a trip to the vet.
If you have a dog that loves to dig, there’s also a high chance of it snagging a nail on a buried rock or root.
You can’t expect to have a healthy dog without frequent grooming sessions. Grooming your dog will keep its fur coat in good condition and ensure healthy paws.
Some dog owners feel that all the walking that their dog does for exercise is enough to keep the nails trim.
But the truth is that many dogs don’t walk or run enough to wear down their nails. Therefore human intervention is required.
If you don’t trim or cut your dog’s nails regularly, they will definitely start to get too long and long nails are at greater risk of getting torn off or bent.
All painful experiences for your dog.
A dog’s nail is rather different than a cat’s. Dogs are not able to sheath their nail as cats can. So the risk of injury is higher.
Longer nails can also affect the way your dog walks as it puts additional pressure on the nail bed which is painful. This can lead to joint disorders over the long term.
If your dog has weak or brittle nails, it is usually an indication of an underlying medical issue. Nails that can easily flake, break or split aren’t a good sign as they can lead to other secondary problems in your dog’s toe.
There are a couple of factors that can cause brittle nails in your dog.
Fungal infections like yeast and ringworm are very common nail disorders in dogs. When your dog is busy sniffing around in the dirt or grass, it can inhale fungal spores which causes the infection.
The infection will usually affect your dog’s nail bed and cause the nail to become weak.
If your dog isn’t getting a good quality diet, that can definitely affect the quality of your dog’s nails over time.
Take a good look at what you are feeding your dog.
Is your dog’s diet high in protein and low in carbs, fat and salt?
Dogs are carnivores and need a lot of animal protein in their diet.
A bad diet will not only affect their nails but their coat quality as well.
Nail Bed Tumors
Dogs can get tumors that grow in and around the nail bed. The cancer cells can cause the nail to become weak and even spread to other parts of your dog’s paw.
The tumor can cause bleeding and make it painful for your dog to move about.
What To Do If My Dog’s Nail Is Bent Sideways?
The first thing that you want to do is to ascertain the severity of the injury.
Is the nail bent at the nail bed?
Any injury or swelling to the rest of the paw?
Any bleeding or protruding bones?
If the injury looks severe, try to gently wrap the dog’s paw with a towel or bandage to stop the bleeding and keep the area immobile.
Some dogs can be rather aggressive when in pain so don’t force it if your dog starts to growl or bark at you when you try to attend to the injury.
Can You Treat A Dog’s Broken Nail At Home?
It largely depends on which part of the nail is bent. If it’s just the front of the nail and it is pretty much broken off and dangling, you can try to cut it off with a clipper.
It works better if you can get someone to hold your dog and feed it really yummy treats as a form of distraction.
But if the nail is bent at the nail bed or there’s heavy bleeding, I would strongly suggest that you take your dog to the vet for medical treatment.
You need to make sure that there are no other injuries to your dog’s paw.
And because your dog’s feet are always on the ground, the wound can get easily infected if it isn’t properly dressed or if there’s broken skin.
When in doubt, at least give your vet a call first.
How To Prevent Bent Nails In My Dog?
When it comes to our pets, prevention is always better than cure. Here are a few ways that you can employ to prevent bent nails in your dog.
Have A Grooming Schedule
If you are too laid back with your dog’s grooming, it is time to take it up a notch. It takes about 2-3 weeks for your dog’s nails to grow back. It can be even faster for small dog breeds and younger dogs.
So set an alarm to start clipping your dog’s nails every 1-2 weeks to keep them as short as possible.
The shorter your dog’s nails are, the lower the risk of damaging them.
When trimming your dog’s nails, make sure to not cut the quick as that’s painful for your dog.
If you don’t think you can do a good job trimming your dog’s nails or your dog is difficult to handle, consider sending your dog to a groomer.
When choosing a groomer, it would be best to use one that comes highly recommended. I have heard stories of dogs shaking after being groomed due to a bad experience at the groomers.
Feed Your Dog A Good Diet
The tougher and healthier your dog’s nails are, the harder it will be for them to bend or break.
Your dog’s diet is really very important and one aspect of dog ownership that you should never skim on.
Stop feeding your dog dry food or unhealthy human food.
Get your dog used to eating good canned food or a raw meat diet.
It will reap amazing benefits for years to come for both you and your dog.
How Painful Is A Broken Nail For A Dog?
A dog with a badly broken or bent nail pain can be in a lot of pain especially if the wound is at the nail bed where there are lots of nerve endings.
The vet will usually cut off the nail at the base and allow it to regrow back properly. Once the nail is cut at the nail bed, the dog will be in less pain but the vet should prescribe some pain medication for your dog to manage the discomfort for the first few days.
Antibiotics might also be given to prevent any form of infection while the nail regrows.
Can I Walk My Dog With A Broken Nail?
I wouldn’t take my dog out on a walk if it has a broken nail. There’s no way of telling how severe the injury is and walking your dog can make it worse.
But if you need to get your dog walking to the car to get it to the vet, carry your dog instead of letting it put weight on its injured paw.