Dog Care: Understanding Nail Disorders

Nail disorders can affect the claw or surrounding area and can be painful for your dog, particularly when they walk. They can occur as a result of bacterial or fungal infections, and dogs with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of developing these types of nail infections. Trauma, trimming the nails too close to the nailbed and unexplained abnormal tissue growth can cause nail disorders. Additionally, high levels of growth hormones can overstimulate the nailbed. Here's what you need to know about nail disorders in dogs:


Signs your dog could have a nail disorder include swelling around the nails, licking the paws and nail discolouration. Your dog may resist going for a walk and may lose interest in playing if their paws are sore. Additionally, the nails may appear brittle or chip easily, and nails may grow abnormally and appear twisted or turn upwards.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your vet will examine your dog's paws and take details of their health history. If only one nail is affected, the cause is likely to be trauma. However, if several nails are affected, blood tests and a skin scraping will be used to identify the underlying cause. Blood tests can determine if your dog has a hormonal imbalance or raised inflammatory markers, which can be an indication of an overactive immune system. Blood tests can also uncover an abnormal white cell count, which can occur when an infection is present. In order to determine if a bacterial or fungal infection is to blame, your vet will take a skin scraping from your dog's nailbed.

Treatment will depend on the identified cause of your dog's nail problem. Topical or oral antibiotics or antifungals may be required, and your vet may prescribe an antimicrobial foot soak for your dog to encourage healing. Hormonal imbalances can be rectified with synthetic hormone replacement drugs, but your dog may need to take this medication for the rest of its life. If your dog's nails are badly damaged, or if there's significant inflammation around the nailbed, it may be necessary to surgically remove the affected nails to allow the surrounding tissue to heal, and a topical anti-inflammatory can help speed this process up.

Treatment for nail disorders is generally effective, and your dog shouldn't experience any ongoing issues with their paws after treatment. However, it's important to seek treatment promptly to prevent your dog experiencing unnecessary pain and discomfort. So, if your dog has any symptoms of a nailbed disorder, schedule an appointment with your vet.