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Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

Dog Nail problems might indicate more severe skin issues. If your dog has any deformation or sensitivity in his paws then investigate the cause.

The dog nails are made up of tough keratin that protects the softer components within the fingertip and nail bed. Blood arteries and nerves supply cell division further in the nail. The nail may take most of the damage to safeguard buildings underneath. It will recover. If you think there is a dog nail problem in your pup, then take him to the doctor or a veterinary dermatologist who inspects and treats nails. Here are several dog nail problems:

Symptoms of Dog Nail Disorders

A pet may have multiple symptoms of dog nail problems. Your veterinarian must hear all signs to make a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Broken nails

A broken nail is the result of a broken dog toe. It might cause pus-like discharge, which the pet may lick, which is unhealthy. If only one nail is damaged, this could be an instance of nail trauma leading to secondary infection, causing pus and increased licking.

Misshapen or curved nails (deformed nails)

Your dog’s nails are quickly exposed or begin to curl if it hasn’t had a manicure for a lengthy period. Please keep your dog’s nails short enough so that it may walk without discomfort, and cut them as soon as you discover that they are curling.

Increased brittleness of nails

Lupoid onychodystrophy is a skin disease that usually causes dryness and brittle or broken dog nails. Rottweilers are one of the most commonly affected breeds because of the brittleness of their nails.

Pus or discharge around the nail

The pet may lick a broken nail with a pus-like discharge. It could be nail trauma leading to secondary dog nail infection.

Ingrown nails (digging into the skin)

Ingrown nails cause pain, inflammation, oedema, and infection, so taking good care is essential. 

Crusting around the nail(s)

The dermatophyte fungus, also called ringworm, causes nail crusting and unsightly nails. The condition can affect one or more nails and the skin.

Licking and chewing at the paws 

Fleas or ticks cause itchy bites on your dog. It can result in unhealthy dog nails with compulsive paw-licking and chewing. If the pet is allergic to these parasites, the situation can deteriorate.

Biting at nails

Nail-biting or pup’s cracked nails can lead to dog nail problems such as soreness or infection in and around your nails. If tissue damage occurs, it is responsible for nail growth changes in the appearance of your dog’s nails, such as abnormal development.

Difficulty walking or lameness

Broken dog toe, cuts, bruises, or fractures can make walking difficult. Diseases that affect the legs, brain, nerves, or spine, on the other hand, can cause walking abnormalities.

Sensitive paws

Paw sensitivity is sometimes attributed to a dog’s instinct to protect essential bodily parts. Dog paws affect digging, hunting, self-defense, and locomotion.

Paw or individual nail bed redness or swelling

A dog nail bed infection, a foreign body like a splinter, or an insect bite or sting may cause your dog’s swollen toe.

Nail splitting

Brittle dog nails or splitting nails can indicate insufficient nutrition. Overgrown nails and hard play can break and split nails. If this happens, talk to your vet about your pup’s diet and keep him clean.

Bleeding nails 

Dog nail bleeding occurs from trimming. Holding a dog still to clip toenails is difficult. Toenails bleed when torn at the quick, the soft tissue at the base.

Causes of Nail Disorders

Bacterial infection

If just one claw is infected, prior trauma should be investigated. More than one nail might produce a bacterial nail bed infection, leading to the other dog’s nail problems. For example, allergies can cause nail-bed yeast infections. Paronychia is inflammation (with or without disease) of nail-bed skin.

Fungal infection

Dermatophyte fungus (ringworm) can cause nail crusting and discolored nails. It might damage one nail, numerous nails, or your pet’s whole skin. This fungus affects cats and dogs, although cats are more susceptible.

Dog Nail Trauma

Dogs are such fun-loving animals that they may break a nail in the park and barely quiver. They may lick a damaged nail later that day or the next to comfort it. The broken dog nail causes excessive licking or lameness. 

Autoimmune disease 

Pemphigus is the most frequent dermatological autoimmune disease in canines: pemphigus foliaceus causes symmetrical ear and facial lesions. Hair loss, vesicles, pustules, and ulcers may occur due to this disease.

Food allergy

Itchy skin, paws, ears, vomiting, or diarrhea are indicators of a food allergy in dogs. Hyperactivity, weight loss, fatigue, and hostility are also possible.

Environmental allergy

Pollen, molds, grass, trees, and dust mites are examples of environmental allergies for pups. Flea saliva is another frequent allergen that produces a condition known as flea allergy dermatitis.

Nutritional problems

Poor dog diet leads to dog nail problems and other issues like obesity, emaciation, rickets, allergies, and hair loss. These ailments are usually caused by dietary amount or quality, although medical disorders and parasites can also cause them.

Congenital disorders 

Most instances are hereditary, although dietary inadequacies, medication or chemical exposure, fetal damage, and viral infections during pregnancy have all been implicated. A puppy with a cleft palate or lip may have trouble feeding soon after birth.


The prostate, urinary bladder, and kidneys can develop neoplasia. Lymphoma is a frequent dog neoplasia.

How to Diagnose Dog Nail Disorders?

Check to see if a dog nail infection impacts only one nail. Multiple damaged nails suggest a significant underlying medical issue. A skin scrape and bacterial or fungal culture may be obtained to diagnose the dog’s nail problems.


The cause of the dog nail problem or nail bed infection will determine treatment. Inflamed nails may require surgical removal of the nail plate to drain underlying tissue. Antibiotic and antimicrobial soaks reduce inflammation and promote healing. If the illness is bacterial or fungal, topical medicines and ointments are typically used.

Dog Nail and Nail Bed Disorder Prevention

To avoid dog nail problems, you need to stop cutting too close to the nail bed while trimming your dog’s toenails (also called the quick). Inadvertently cutting a vein in the nail bed might cause dog nail bleeding and lead to nail bed infection. Skin nicks can open your dog to infection while walking outside. Nail trimming should be done from two to three weeks with a dog nail grinder.  Before cutting your dog’s nails, ensure you know where the free edge stops and the nail plate begins.

Final thoughts

The best approach to protect your pup from painful dog nail problems is to investigate correct nail-cutting techniques. To avoid dog nail bleeding, pay close attention when cutting, and instantly wash and cover the area if unintended harm occurs.

My name is James. A passionate veterinarian who is dedicated to providing the best care for all animals. With a gentle touch and a kind heart, I have earned a reputation as a trusted and respected member of the animal healthcare community.