What to Do if Your Dog's Nail Has Ripped Off
Realising your dog's nail has ripped off can send you into a tailspin. Upon seeing the blood and your cutie in pain, your first impulse may be rushing to an animal hospital.
Still, try not to panic. Canines of all ages are prone to this type of calamity. Since it's so common, vets have outlined an orderly way to take charge of the situation.
In many cases, you can treat a damaged claw at home. It depends on the nail's location, position, and how much is severed. Here's how to respond when your dog rips a claw, to ensure their healing and recovery.
PINPOINTING THE HURT CLAW
Based on your dog's body language, the site of the torn nail may be evident. If not, start your evaluation by checking each paw, including the webbing and between the toes.
Then, examine each toenail. Pay special attention to the "nail bed," the part where the nail meets the toe. Push back any fur obstructing your view, looking for nail bed cracks.
If the toenails look fine, assess the "dew claws." If this term is unfamiliar, dew claws are accessory nails.
All dogs have an extra claw on each front leg. In some pups, it projects from the inner ankle. In others, it protrudes above the front paw. Some dog breeds also have hind dew claws, including double nails.
A healthy dew claw has a smooth surface and uniform colour.
DEW CLAW FUNCTIONS
While these appendages look odd, they can be handy for your dog. Front dew claws have various practical purposes:
- Stability - after swimming, when a dog transitions from water to land.
- Balance - when your pup treads uneven surfaces.
- Grooming - helps with personal hygiene.
- Gripping - aids grasping and chewing toys and bones.
- Traction - for better footing on slippery surfaces.
Hind dew claws were valuable for your dog's ancestors. Originally, canines had catlike behavior, using their hind dew claws to climb trees. However, with canine evolution, the nails became obsolete.
Unlike canine toenails, dew claws are loosely attached, making them more susceptible to trauma.
SYMPTOMS OF DEW CLAW INJURY
Whether your dog has an injured toenail or dew claw, the distress signals are identical:
- holding up the hurt paw
- licking the site of injury
- red or swollen nail tissue
TYPES OF CANINE NAIL DAMAGE
Generally, a ripped nail falls into three categories:
- completely detached and bleeding
- broken or split but loosely attached
- broken or cracked but well-attached
The most severe injury is a broken nail that's firmly attached.
GAUGING A MILD INJURY
By now, you may be wondering, "How can I treat my dog's broken nail at home?" Well, the first step is seeing if the break involves the nail "quick." This term means the shaded part inside the nail, closest to your dog's body. The quick is living tissue, housing a blood vessel and nerve.
If your dog has light-colored nails, you'll see a pink area within each one. That's the quick. Does your dog have dark nails? If so, their quicks are gray. To find them, examine the claws under bright light.
Now that you've located the nail quick, you can proceed to the next step. Home treatment should be feasible if:
- The break in the nail occurs before the quick.
- The claw has completely broken off, accompanied by mild bleeding.
- A torn dew claw is loosely attached, and bleeding is minimal.
APPROACHING YOUR PET
If your dog is very sore, they may resist your help. Behaviours vary, according to a pup's temperament. Some pets withdraw, whimper, or cower, while others may growl or bite. If you fear getting nipped, apply a muzzle if you have one.
Or, to relax your pup, consider giving a dose of our herbal formula, All Natural Tranquillity. The oral drops are non-sedating and easy to dispense.
Also, ask another adult to help you, preferably someone your cutie trusts. Note that if the pain keeps your pup from cooperating, you must bring them to a vet.
TOENAIL OR BROKEN DEW CLAW TREATMENT
First, gather the necessary supplies, as follows:
- styptic pencil or powder
- gauze and cotton balls
- blanket and clean cotton sock
- bandage and first aid tape
- sterilized nail clipper
- pet-safe antiseptic
To sterilise the nail clipper, swipe it with gauze soaked in rubbing alcohol.
"What's up with the cotton sock?" you ask. If your pup won't tolerate a bandage, they may accept a comfy sock as wound protection.
If you don't have a styptic pencil, you can stop bleeding with a paste made of cornstarch, flour, or baking soda. Just mix the powdery material with water to form a thick glob.
Note that you must use a pet nail trimmer versus the human type. The best design for dew claws is the "guillotine." I know, this term sounds awful, like you're executing the nails.
Still, human nail clippers aren't strong enough to trim canine nails. If you don't have a pet nail clipper, don't risk a catastrophe! Instead, bring your precious dog to a vet. But, if you have all the right supplies, here's what to do.
1. Have your helper stabilise your dog by hugging them or wrapping them in a blanket.
2. Halt any bleeding. Apply gauze to the wound, pressing firmly for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, speak to your pup reassuringly. If bleeding continues, dab the wound with styptic or the paste you made, using a cotton ball.
3. Regarding a dew claw, does it hanging loosely, like a wiggly baby tooth? If so, using your fingers, remove the claw with a quick pull. If you leave the nail, your dog may snag it, and you'll be treating another injury. If yanking the dew claw prompts more bleeding, apply gauze and styptic or your clotting paste.
4. Clean the injured site with a pet-safe antiseptic product. We suggest using our All Natural Itchy Skin and Wound Care spray. It will relieve your dog's pain by numbing the torn tissue. Plus, it will help to thwart infection.
5. Apply a bandage to the wound, affixing it with first aid tape. Avoid wrapping the area tightly, as this will cut off your dog's blood supply. If your cutie tries to remove the bandage, replace it with the cotton sock, securing it with first aid tape.
6. If a bloody stump of tissue remains, take your dog to a vet for assessment. Also, get prompt medical care if your dog's pain lingers beyond a day. Furthermore, if their nails look weak or otherwise abnormal, obtain a vet's diagnosis and treatment.
7. Change the bandage or sock daily until the wound heals.
These conditions require urgent medical treatment:
- Your dog is frantic with pain.
- The broken nail involves the quick.
- Bleeding is profuse or uncontrollable.
- The nail tissue is shredded.
- The broken claw is cracked or well-attached.
- The wound is infected.
- You can't tell if the damage is severe.
Don't delay veterinary care if the gash is infected. Red flags include pus, redness, swelling, nail discoloration, or a foul odour. In addition, your dog may lick the wound repeatedly.
For the drive to the animal hospital, wrap the involved foot in a soft towel, immobilizing it.
At the hospital, the doctor may sedate your pup to evaluate the nail and wound. For a severe infection, spreading to nearby tissue, the doctor might inject an antibiotic.
For aftercare, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic cream, an oral antibiotic, or medicated bandages. Before leaving, ask the vet if you can also treat the infection with paw soaks. They can soothe the inflamed tissue.
HOME REMEDIES FOR DEW CLAW OR TOENAIL INFECTION
Never treat an infection with home remedies without a vet's approval! I know I'm harping on this point, but here's why. If the germs survive, they can invade and destroy your dog's bone tissue.
So, with a nod from your vet, here are two types of paw soaks you can try.
Apple Cider Vinegar Treatment
Apple cider vinegar consists of fermented apples, having antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. The most effective type is raw apple cider vinegar, sold by supermarkets, natural food stores, and online.
Using a shallow tub, mix a 50/50 solution of warm water and apple cider vinegar (ACV). Then, have your sweetie stand in the tub for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, occupy your dog with affectionate petting and treats.
If the infected nail is a dew claw, pour the ACV solution over it, using a cup. Next, towel-dry all the paws. Then, place a sock or bootie on the involved leg. Repeat this process daily for one week.
Antibacterial Soap Treatment
In a shallow tub, mix a solution of 50/50 liquid antibacterial soap and warm water. Have your dog stand in the tub for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, lavish your dog with affection and a few treats. For an infected dew claw, use a cup to pour the soapy solution over the nail.
Next, empty the tub, fill it with warm water, and rinse off the soap. Then, dry your dog's paws with a towel and place a sock or bootie on the involved leg. Repeat the treatment daily for seven days.
Here are two questions often raised by dog owners:
- How long does it take for a dog's nail to heal?
- Do dog nails grow back after being ripped off?
In answer, tissue mending should start within two days, provided your dog leaves the wound alone.
Typically, regrowth occurs in a nail that was broken, cracked, or split. A claw torn from its root should grow back within a few months. The rate of regeneration varies among dogs.
If the nail root was severely damaged, it might not produce a new claw. Alternatively, an emerging nail may be abnormal, such as curved or discolored. In that case, have it checked by a vet.
Now, let's explore what caused your dog's injury. This way, you can avoid future incidents.
TRIGGERS OF TOENAIL TRAUMA
A dog's toenail can rip when it catches on a pavement crack. It can likewise tear when a dog runs past vegetation.
Cutting a dog's nail at an angle can make it splinter and break. In the process, the nail clipper can nick the skin, provoking bleeding.
Certain medical conditions can weaken a dog's nails, turning them dry and brittle. In that case, you may find nail sheaths or fragments around your home. Or, claws can crumble during trimming.
Thankfully, in many cases, veterinary care can eliminate or correct medical sources of nail deterioration.
CAUSES OF DEW CLAW INJURY
Dew claws need monthly trimming. Otherwise, they get too long, making them prone to breaking, chipping, and snagging objects. In that case, you'll be facing dog dew claw injury treatment.
If your pet has entered its golden years, be on the lookout for hidden dew claws. In senior dogs with hairy paws, thick fur can cover their extra nails. Over time, they become ingrown, curling into the nail bed. Moreover, ingrown claws set the stage for infection.
Improper Nail Trims
As with your dog's toenails, poor clipping technique can hurt their dew claws. One mistake is snipping near the quick, spurring bleeding. Plus, your pup will flinch from the pain. The sudden movement can rip the dew claw from their skin.
PREVENTING DEW CLAW RE-INJURY
1. Once a week, check the dew claws for any peeling, chipping, or cracking. If present, clip the damaged section, avoiding the nail quick by 1/4 inch. This excellent article, including photos, gives detailed instructions for trimming canine nails.
If you can't see the nail quicks, don't take any chances with home trims. Instead, bring your pup to a vet or reputable groomer. Professional nail clipping is efficient and worth the cost.
2. Place booties on your dog before they go outdoors.
Note that, in most cases, vets don't recommend dew claw removal. That's because it can involve amputating an attached toe. Plus, front dew claws have protective roles, as mentioned above. So, a better option is knowing how to treat a broken dew claw and avoiding a recurrence.
SAFE AND SOUND
If your dog has a mild nail injury, you can likely treat it with the help of another adult. This may be possible in three cases:
- the break in the nail doesn't touch the quick
- the claw is completely torn off, with little bleeding
- a torn dew claw dangles loosely, and bleeding is minimal
However, bring your dog to a vet if:
- the pain is agonising for your dog
- the broken nail encroaches the quick
- bleeding is unstoppable
- the nail tissue has shredded
- the broken claw is cracked or firmly attached
- the injured site is infected
To manage the trauma well, you need patience and composure. With slow, deep breathing, you'll be in control. For your pup, All Natural Tranquillity confers relaxation.
Still, if caring for a dog's broken nail seems daunting, bring your pal to a vet. In particular, always seek medical care for an infection, rather than treating it yourself.
Stay tuned to our site for sound pet care advice. We have your dog's health at heart!
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