Jump to section

What are Claw and Nail Disorders?

The study of the nails is called onychology and has recently become more of a focus in the veterinary field. Research is extensively underway in order for those in the veterinary field to understand more about the complexities of the claws, their function, and how to treat injury and disease. Claw and nail disorders are not often seen in veterinary clinics as a single disorder. For example, a bacterial infection of the nail can run concurrently with a skin condition as it is a continuation of the epidermis and dermis. Other conditions may be an abnormal growth formation or an infection. Systemic diseases can also affect the claws and nails.

Diseases and abnormalities of the nail and claw are quite numerous in nature and often accompany skin disorders. Nail and claw dystrophy can occur as the result of a trauma, infection, or abnormal formation, to name a few. Because the nail is such an important part of movement, grasping, and defense, any nail or claw problem should be examined by your veterinarian as these conditions can become very uncomfortable for your dog.

K9 Advantix II Flea & Tick Prevention

wagwalking.com

Shop now
advertisement image

Claw and Nail Disorders Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$600

Symptoms of Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

Diseased claws and nails can predispose your pet to trauma, lameness, and pain. If you see that your dog’s nails are not looking as they normally do, a visit to the veterinarian is in order.

  • Reddish colored claws
  • Whiter than normal claws
  • Nails that are wider or narrower than normal
  • Splitting of the nail
  • Softness
  • Curving
  • Swelling
  • Looseness of claws
  • Sloughing off of claw plate
  • Brittleness
  • Pus
  • Claws that break easily
  • Ingrown appearance
  • Licking and chewing
  • Pain upon walking
  • Secondary symptoms on the footpad and surrounding skin

Types

The types of claw and nail disorders are many in number. A very few of them are listed here.

  • Onychomadesis - sloughing of the nail

  • Onychodystrophy - abnormal claw formation
  • Macronychia - nails that are unusually large

  • Onychitis - inflammation in the matrix of the claw
  • Paronychia - inflammation of the nail fold

  • Onychoschizia - splitting of the nail
  • Onychomalacia - softening of the claw

arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

The reasons for your pet to have a problem with the nail or claw range greatly in cause, some of which are listed here.

  • Exposure to the environment (wet too often or excessively dry)
  • Human error in nail clipping
  • Viruses such as distemper
  • Age
  • Parasites
  • Fungus
  • Bacteria
  • Neoplasia
  • Food hypersensitivity
  • Infection secondary to hypoadrenocorticism or diabetes
  • Trauma
  • Autoimmune disease such as pemphigus vulgaris
  • Nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Breed disposition (for example, Schnauzer, Greyhound, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd are predisposed to idiopathic symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy)
  • King Charles Spaniel, American Cocker Spaniel, and German Shepherds are prone to many nail diseases
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

The exact cause and reason for disorders like sloughing of the nails or curvature of the claw can sometimes be hard to specifically diagnose. Along with the fact that there are many illnesses that can lead to cracking of the nails or loosening of the claw for example, pinpointing why there are situations of persistent inflammation or infection can be a challenge.

Cytology tests, which will aid the veterinarian in the process of diagnosis, are indicative tools that are used to examine tissue. Neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth), paronychia (inflammation of the soft tissue around the claw), bacteria, and fungal disorders can be identified through this diagnostic mechanism. Skin and nail scrapings may be done to verify the presence of mites. 

If there is a suspicion of a food-related cause like an allergy or intolerance, the conclusion of the problem could take more time because your pet may have to be put on an elimination diet in order to determine foods or additives that could be causing concerning effects to the nail.

Radiographs of the claws or biopsy of the nail are other tests that your veterinarian may have to do if other approaches cannot resolve the diagnostic question. Serum biochemical analysis, urinalysis, and complete blood count are additional methods to check the health of your beloved pet, verifying the enzyme levels and checking for systemic diseases.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

The type of treatment that your pet may have to undergo in order to rectify the nail disorder will depend on the cause; the range of reasons for a claw problem are many. Before your veterinarian does begin treatment, however, he will take some considerations into account.

  • Is one paw affected, or all four?
  • Has the deterioration of the nail been a slow progression or is it an acute situation?
  • Is there a breed disposition?
  • Is there a systemic disease that needs to be treated concurrently?
  • What is your pet’s age?

Because canine claws take six to nine months to completely regrow, many of the therapies (and the results from them) will be seen only after 6 to 8 months of the regimen. 

Parasitic effects on a claw can be resolved by eliminating the parasite and then repairing the nail. A bacterial infection will be eradicated with antibiotics; the course of the medication may be required for several months. A nail damaged by trauma could see a treatment of daily antiseptic soaks, along with a removal of the cracked or broken claw. A dog with an immuno-suppressive disorder will need a prescription for oral prednisone. The dose is usually tapered off as the nail heals. Topical creams, Omega 3, and vitamin A and E supplementation could be recommended in addition to other therapy.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

Depending on the type of claw and nail disorder, there can be a chance of relapse after cessation of the treatment. Some conditions need lifelong therapy in order to keep the nail destruction at bay. Your veterinarian will advise you based on the situation, but it is known that canines should be kept on a good quality high nutrient food which allows for the growth of a healthy nail. Supplementation of vitamins, gelatin and biotin are often needed as a preventative for future recurrences. Frequent nail trimming is always a good idea, to help keep the claw strong and to avoid splitting or breaking.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Claw and Nail Disorders Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$600

arrow-up-icon

Top

Claw and Nail Disorders Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

American Pit Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Split Nail Stopped Bleeding Lil Clear Discharge

What should I do to clean it or should i take her in

Sept. 16, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

When dogs nails split, they often need to be seen by a veterinarian to be removed, as they can be quite painful. I do think it would be best to take her in to see a veterinarian. They will be able to assess her nail, see if it is broken because of a trauma or a disease, and let you know the best way to treat it. They often require sedation to remove, but once they are removed they grow back normally. I hope that all goes well for her.

Sept. 16, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

staffordshire bull terrier cross

dog-age-icon

Eight Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

i took my dog for a walk earlier today in the park i came back this afternoon i have notcied on her front leg paw on her little toe her nail underneath seems to have gone red its not swollen but it is red any advice on what to do

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that your dog tore her toenail, and that may need to be seen by a veterinarian to help resolve. If she is comfortable, and walking around normally on it, you may be able to watch for a day or two and see what happens with it. If it is not getting better, or you noticed that she is painful or limping on that leg, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. I hope it all goes well for her.

Aug. 4, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Min Pin

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Nail Bed/Nail Issues

A couple of nail beds are growing out of control and are unusually thick and wide.

July 31, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Jessica N. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. There are multiple conditions that can cause nails to grow abnormally. The first step would be to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so they can examine the feet more closely. They may want to perform x-rays or perform a fungal culture to assess the underlying cause. Once a cause is determined they can provide treatment options. Good luck.

July 31, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Great Dane/German Shepard

dog-age-icon

Three Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

One clear nail on each back paw

July 26, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is not uncommon for dogs to have white or clear Nails in addition to black nails. If you think there may be an infection or a problem with the nails, it would be best to ask your veterinarian at her next examination, but it is probably normal for your dog. I hope that all goes well with your puppy.

July 26, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

Five Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Depression

My dog has two nails coming out of the same nail seems to be painful for her

July 25, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I would be surprised if that happened suddenly, and while it may not be comfortable when you touch the nails, I'm not sure that it is actually painful for her without being able to examine her. If it is something that you noticed recently, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can see what might need to be done about the other nail. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 25, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

King

dog-breed-icon

Puggle Pointer

dog-age-icon

10 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Nail Turning White

My dog has all black nails. I just noticed today that the tip of one of his nail is turning white. It lost all of its pigment in the tip. It’s only one nail though. It looks like he may have got it stuck in something and it chipped parts of that nail. There’s a couple lines down towards the base suggesting he got it stuck in something. Could this be due to trauma. Is it something to be concerned about. His nails aren’t super long either.

dog-name-icon

M

dog-breed-icon

Husky

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Dry Skin
Brown/Red Nails On All Paws

My husky's nails are turning reddish/brown on each paw. She has been out in the dirt, but it does not seem to be dirt, rather than discoloration. Her nails have split, but not excessively. She is not fixed, and I am not sure if that has anything to do with her about to be in heat or not. Her urine is also very yellow (not sure if that is helpful or not).

dog-name-icon

Boris

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None, He Seems Fine

My pug is 14 now, when he was 12 one of his back nails went straight. The rest have their natural curve that all claws have but, this one nail is so straight that it looks longer than all the rest but it's not. No idea what could cause this. Doesn't seem to bother him. Just odd.

dog-name-icon

Merry

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Deformed

My dog Merry, a German Shepherd/Heeler/probably some Rottweiler mix, mostly has dark colored nails that grow at a regular rate, but on her front left paw, she has two white, crooked, misshapen nubs that do not grow. They almost look like they were nails that broke a long time ago but never grew back, and no one really knows why they are like that. Is there any reason for why they are like this?

dog-name-icon

Daizy

dog-breed-icon

English bull terrier

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Nails

My dog Daizy’s quick (vein in the nails) grows longer than her actual nail.. and it grows faster.. so it’s at the point where her nails are starting to curl underneath on to her paw pads. And you can get a bit off each month but it still looks bad. They’re very large nails, very thick, and there’s a red colour mixed in with them. They’re growing crooked and she hates it when we clip them (cause they must hurt) any advice or know what’s up ?

Claw and Nail Disorders Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$600

K9 Advantix II Flea & Tick Prevention

wagwalking.com

Shop now
advertisement image
How can we help your pet?