A nail that is broken and bent can be both alarming and painful for your dog.
This guide offers quick, practical advice on assessing your dog’s nail injury, immediate care, and deciding on a vet visit.
Anatomy Of A Dog’s Paw
A dog’s paw is crucial for its mobility and activity.
The paw consists of several key components:
- Digital pads
- Claws (or nails)
- Carpal pad
- Metacarpal pads.
The claws aid in gripping the ground during movement and are used for digging.
The pads function as shock absorbers, protecting the dog’s feet on rough or uneven surfaces.
What To Do If Your Dog Has A Bent Nail?
A bent or broken nail doesn’t always mean that it is an emergency. But as pet parents, you should at least know how to assess your dog’s condition.
Check The Paw
Start by gently examining the delicate bent nail to gauge the extent of the damage.
A bent nail can cause discomfort or pain to your dog, so it’s important to be thorough but gentle in your assessment.
Minor incidents do happen so pay close attention to your dog’s behavior for any signs of discomfort.
Common indicators include limping, swelling, redness or excessive licking of the paw.
These behaviors can give you a better understanding of how much pain your dog is experiencing.
Another important aspect to check for is bleeding.
If the nail is severely bent or broken, the toe will bleed.
Bleeding around the nail area could mean that the nail’s quick (the part containing nerves and blood vessels) has been damaged or become exposed.
Provide Immediate Care
The first step is to ensure your dog remains calm and stationary.
This prevents your dog from aggravating the injury, making it easier for you to treat it.
Get your dog to go into its crate where it is more likely to feel safe and secure.
Begin by gently cleaning the injured paw.
If possible, try to cut or trim off as much of the bent nail to prevent it from being caught onto something.
It will grow back so don’t worry.
Even a gentle dog may bite 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.
Use lukewarm water or an antiseptic cleaner to rinse the area.
Do not use rubbing alcohol as that will sting. This helps to remove any dirt or debris which can cause an infection.
If the injured nail is bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the area with a clean cloth to help stop the bleeding.
You can also use common household items like a bar of soap or multipurpose flour to stop the bleeding.
Gently press either of these items onto the bleeding nail to help the wound clot.
Nails can bleed a lot and if your dog is painful, hyper or just wound up, the bleeding can appear profuse.
Do not panic.
Stay calm and try to keep your dog calm while continuing to apply pressure.
Is A Vet Visit Necessary?
If you can cut off your dog’s broken nail and dress the wound, it should recover nicely within a few days.
If you are unable to cut off the bent nail, it will drop off once the new nail starts to grow back.
You might notice your dog limping during this period but it won’t affect his mobility much.
But if there is heavy bleeding or if your dog is unable to walk, it is better to visit a vet for emergency medical attention.
An x-ray might be needed to determine the severity of the injury.
If your dog keeps licking the area after treating a broken nail, use an e-collar to prevent skin infection at the nail bed or between the toes.
How To Prevent Broken Nails In Dogs?
1. Watch Where You Step
Always be aware of where your dog is, especially when walking or moving around them.
Accidentally stepping on your dog’s paw can injure your dog’s paw or nails.
I’m ashamed to admit that I have stepped on both my dog’s and cat’s paws a couple of times.
Thankfully they were both fine.
Teach your dog commands like ‘move’ or ‘back’ to prevent them from being underfoot, reducing the risk of accidental stepping.
2. Regular Trimming
Set a schedule to trim your dog’s nails every 1-2 weeks. Shorter nails are less likely to get damaged.
Nails that grow too long are more easily torn or bent as they can be caught and ripped off more easily.
You can use a nail cutter or a nail grinder if your dog prefers that.
Unlike cats, dogs can’t sheath their nails while walking. Over time, long nails can even affect a dog’s gait and lead to joint problems.
Overgrown nails can even curve around and penetrate the digital pads leading to more pain, discomfort and increased risk of breakage.
Be cautious not to cut the quick, as it’s painful for the dog.
If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails or if your dog is difficult to handle, consider using a professional groomer.
Your local vet staff may also demonstrate the best ways to trim your dog’s nails at home if you ask.
3. Build Stronger Nails
A poor diet can lead to nails that easily flake, break or split. Dogs require a diet rich in animal protein and essential fatty acids.
A survey has shown that up to 80% of pet owners feed their pets dry food or kibbles.
Low-quality dry food isn’t good for your dog as it contains high amounts of carbohydrates and fillers.
A diet lacking in quality can affect not only their nails but also their coat.
Stick to a good quality canned food or a raw meat diet.
Ensuring your dog has a balanced diet with the right nutrients is key to maintaining strong, healthy nails.
Fish Oil and Vitamin E are great supplements you can give your dog for skin and nail health.
Ask your veterinarian for appropriate dosages or product recommendations.
Are Certain Dog Breeds More Prone To Nail Injuries?
Active breeds and those with longer nails are more prone to nail injuries, but it can happen to any dog. Dogs that have excessive hair on their paws that require routine grooming or trimming may hide overgrown nails or the hair can become entangled.
Can I Walk My Dog With A Broken Nail?
It’s best to avoid walking your dog with a broken nail to prevent further injury and pain. If a walk is necessary, use a protective boot or bandage and keep it short.
Nora is a passionate writer with a love for books, animals, and gardening.
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