While there are many things that can cause a dog's nail to become damaged or fall off, most of the time, it is nothing to worry about. In fact, a dog breaking off the occasional nail is not unusual, but if you notice your pooch seems to be losing nails on a more frequent basis, it's time to take a trip to the vet. It is also important to keep in mind that each dog is different, and some may be more at risk of losing a nail than others.
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Signs Your Dog Has Lost a Nail
One of the number one reasons dogs lose their nails is because they are too long. When this is the case, they are more likely to snag and tear off. This can happen when they are walking or running on hard surfaces, or when it becomes tangled up in a blanket or piece of clothing. Some dogs simply have weaker nails than others, making them more susceptible to damage and losing their nails.
There are many different signs to look for that will indicate your dog has lost a nail, including:
- Limping or visibly refraining from putting weight on a specific paw
- Blood on your dog's bedding, furniture, or in your bed
- Constant licking of the paw
- Swollen paw
- Not letting you near a paw when you try to take a closer look
If you notice any of the above, it could mean your dog has lost a nail or is suffering from a broken nail that may fall off eventually. Keep a close eye on your pup and if you notice any of the symptoms worsening, call your vet. Dogs can certainly lose a nail from time to time without any cause for concern, but when it becomes infected, is bleeding, or happens more frequently, it could indicate something more serious is going on.
- Furrowed brow
- Sweaty paws
- Not allowing you close to it
- Limping or keeping the weight off of one paw
- Excessive licking
History of Dogs Losing Their Nails
Like humans, dogs can break a nail from time to time without them even noticing it. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to give your dog a once over on a regular basis to check for anything out of the ordinary. Look at their fur, feel their bellies, check their ears, and take a look at their nails. If you notice a broken or chipped nail that seems bothersome and your dog won't let you near it, give your vet a call. While most of the time a chipped nail isn't serious, there is a chance of infection.
While we certainly can't trace the first instance of a dog losing a nail, we can commit to taking a more proactive approach to our dog's health and watching for things such as a chipped, broken, or lost nail. Dogs are quite similar to humans in the sense that they can have weak nails that break off because of environmental factors, or even genetics.
Science Behind Dogs Losing a Nail
In most cases, a lost or broken nail is no big deal. It happens, and there are plenty of things you can do to clean it up and help it heal. While Fido's toenails may look quite tough, they are prone to snagging, tearing, fracturing, and breaking.
Length is perhaps the number one reason dogs lose or break a nail, and some breeds have a more difficult time with this than others. Some dogs are also more predisposed to developing brittle nails than others. If your dog seems to lose nails pretty frequently, this may be something you should discuss with your vet.
There are also numerous nail and nail bed disorders common to dogs, such as:
- Bacteria or fungus
- Tumor or cancer
- Immune-related diseases
- Excessive levels of growth hormone
- Birth disorders
If you think your dog may be suffering from one of the above or if you have any questions about why your dog is losing their nails, please contact your local veterinarian.
Training Your Dog to Deal with Nail Problems
If your dog is prone to losing a nail, it may be a good idea to ask your vet what he or she recommends. Some dogs will let you touch their paws when they are in discomfort, but some simply won't have it.
If possible, get your dog used to your checking them over from an early start. This will make your life a whole lot easier down the road, and will help you provide your pup with better care. Be sure and take your dog on regular walks, too, as this can help keep their nails trimmed down naturally.
How to React If Your Dog Loses a Nail:
Check for bleeding or infection.
Try to examine the paw, if they will let you.
Contact your vet if it is bleeding profusely or really bothering them.
Clean and dress the wound.
If your dog won't leave it alone, you may need to get a cone or muzzle.
Safety Tips for When Your Dog Loses a Nail:
Sterilize the infected area, if your dog will let you near it.
Contact your vet if they seem to be in pain or won't let you look at it.