Is your dog limping? A cracked or torn nail could be the culprit

October 24, 2014

If your dog is very active but has been limping lately, quick treatment of a cracked nail may restore him to normal activity in no time.

Is your dog limping? A cracked or torn nail could be the culprit

Nails that are weak or have grown too long are susceptible to cracking. Additionally, dogs with other medical conditions such as thyroid disease and tumours on the toes are more at risk.

Common symptoms of cracked nails

If you notice something amiss with your furry buddy, check for these obvious indications of cracked nails:

  • Your dog limps or holds one paw in the air when running or walking
  • Swollen toe
  • Frequent licking of the swollen area
  • Your dog resists having you handle the affected paw
  • Bleeding

Treatment of cracked nails

Depending on the extent of the injury, your dog could allow you to check the affected paw or totally shun your help. If your dog won't let you examine the affected area, you need to take him/her to a veterinarian. Your pet will be sedated before treatment.

If your dog allows you to examine his/her paws, you can try to treat the injury yourself. Here are the practical steps to do this:

  • Remove the remaining nail if it's torn to prevent further injury and allow for regrowth. You can use a dog nail clipper to do this.
  • Apply styptic powder, which is a cauterizing agent. If this is not available, you can apply cornstarch and compress the affected area in a clean towel until the bleeding stops.
  • Disinfect the affected area to prevent infection. Flush the wound with warm water to remove dirt. Spray an antiseptic on the area.
  • Bandage the affected paw. A non-restrictive, loose-fitting bandage is often best. If your dog tries to pull off the bandage, consider using an E-collar, or pet cone, to prevent him from gaining access to the wound until it heals.
  • Change the bandage daily and check the wound for signs of infection, which include pus formation, swelling, and more bleeding.
  • Take the dog to the vet if signs of infection are present. If not, continue changing the bandage until the nail is completely healed.

Cracked or torn nails without any complications should heal after a couple of days. Nails will regrow after several weeks. Check the affected area frequently and see if there's nail growth. If not, constant trimming may be necessary, or you may have to consult a veterinarian.

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