Dog Nail Injuries

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    The Facts

    • Active dogs are typically more prone to experiencing nail injuries as the constant running, turning and movement of the feet puts them at a high risk for incident. In general, nail injuries are not life-threatening, but can be extremely painful. Fortunately, most dogs with nail injuries make full recoveries and do quite well afterward.

    Causes

    • A dog can tear its nail in long carpet, grass and dirt. Dogs with long nails are particularly prone to experiencing nail injuries as there is an increased chance of the nail snagging on something. Moreover, dogs with glandular or metabolic conditions, such as hypothyroidism, often suffer from nail injuries, states the veterinary website DrBarchas.com. Dogs with soft nails are at increased risks of nail injuries, as well as canines with tumors growing on their toes.

    Symptoms

    • Unless you witness the injury actually occurring, you may not know that there is an issue unless your dog displays symptoms. If your dog is limping, whining or licking its foot excessively, carefully check its nail for any problems. An injured toe may appear crooked, swollen or may bleed. In addition, the dog's foot is likely sensitive and the dog may react when the foot is touched.

    Treatment

    • Treatment depends upon the severity of the injury. The doctor will likely place the dog on antibiotics to prevent infection and pain medicine to alleviate the discomfort. If the nail is torn, the doctor may need to remove the nail below the cut, which may or may not require anesthesia, depending on the tolerance level of the dog and the severity of the injury. The veterinarian may also place a bandage around the foot, if necessary.

    Prevention

    • Keep your dog's nails cut relatively short to prevent injury. Most dogs need their nails clipped once a month. If your dog constantly suffers from nail injuries, consider placing dog shoes or boots on his feet to prevent further issues. Moreover, you may need to change the environment in which your dog plays to a surface that has a lower chance of pulling or ripping the nail, such as concrete.

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