Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs: Brittle, Cracked Nails

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Claw and nail disorders are a big problem in dogs for whom the nail is a rather important implement. For us nails serve only to protect our sensitive finger tips, but for dogs they are useful for digging and for tearing up meats and toys. Your dog will also be constantly placing weight on their nails whenever they are standing or running, and this then can cause them a lot of pain and discomfort. In short, if you want your pup to be happy and healthy, then it’s crucial that you look after their claws and address any problems.

Maintenance and Symptoms

The best way to encourage good nail health for your dog is to ensure they get a full and balanced diet. Do go the extra mile and splash out on the more expensive brands for your dog food, as these will likely be fortified with crucial vitamins and minerals. In particular calcium is very important as this is what your dog’s diet is made from, so look out for that on the ingredients.

Your dog’s claws will grow out of control if you let them which is bad news for your sofas and for your arm when you’re playing. At the same time as your dog’s claws grow longer they become more likely to catch on things can get torn or broken, which means it’s important for you to get them regularly clipped and filed down either yourself or by a dog groomer. When you do this you’ll have a good opportunity also to look for signs of damage or conditions. Meanwhile look out for other symptoms such as your dog limping, or discoloration or brittleness. You might also notice your dog licking its paws or even biting them to try and ease the discomfort.

Causes of Nail and Nail Bed Disorders

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs then there are many potential causes. Potentially these include trauma – possibly caused by damage to the nail or even clipping too close to the bed, immune system diseases, tumor or cancer, infection, fungus, neoplasia or malnutrition.

If your dog has an infection in the nail bed then you will likely notice swelling and discoloration around the tissue, as well as deformity in the nail itself. This can be the result of a cut becoming infected, so if your pup has recently hurt its paw then this is more likely. Meanwhile inspect the area for lumps and look out for other signs of illness in your dog.

Treatment

If you do note that your dog has a nail or nail bed disorder, then you should take them to a vet as soon as possible to identify the possible cause and to rule out any more sinister problems such as cancer. If your dog has an infection then a course of antibiotics may help to solve the problem, and you might need to apply a saline solution topically to aid recover. Your vet may also be able to recommend a better dog food if the problem is malnutrition, which can help to treat a calcium deficiency or related problems. In more serious cases surgery may be necessary to remove a splinter or tumor in which case you may have to try and prevent your dog from licking their wound in the following days.

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Anthony Jorgensen

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