Bark n Wag 15 Minute Vet Talk

Dr. Laura Brown discusses what to do when your dog loses a nail.

Nov. 18, 2018

It can be quite scary when your dog loses a nail. 

When you’re trimming the dog’s nails, it takes only a small jerk of the dog’s paw to cause a nail to break or chip, and if the dog yanks hard enough, they could tear a nail partially or rip it out completely.

Nails that are too long are more likely to snag and be torn — and long nails are more likely to break or crack when a dog is walking or running on asphalt, concrete, or similar hard surfaces.

In addition, some dogs are just born with weaker nails, making them more susceptible to damage.

Symptoms of a Damaged Nail

  • Favoring a paw by holding it in the air rather than walking on it
  • Limping or visibly not putting weight on a paw while walking
  • Blood on your dog’s bedding
  • Constant licking of a paw
  • A visibly swollen paw or toe
  • Resistance when you try to examine a paw or toe
  • Nail at an odd angle

If you are comfortable doing so, examine your dog’s paw if the dog exhibits any of the above symptoms.

If the toe is sore and injured, dogs may not allow you to examine or touch their foot — and if so, it’s time to go to a veterinarian.

If your dog does allow you to examine the paw, you might still consider a muzzle or at least a helper who can divert your dog’s attention, and their mouth, away from your hands as you examine them.

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