Many animals will at some point in their life have a problem with their nails or claws. Oftentimes, this will go away of its own accord, but on some occasions, these conditions can prove to be much more serious, putting the sufferer at risk of permanent damage and debilitation or worse. In dogs, these problems will often manifest in the form of a group of symptoms that is often referred to as ‘lupoid onychodystrophy’. This refers to the dog’s nails starting to split, inflammation of the nail beds or digits and an increase in licking of the paws and general discomfort on the part of the dog. Often, the underlying conditions can be relatively simple for a vet to resolve, though if they are allowed to continue to do damage, it can result in the dog losing its nails or even an entire digit. Thus, it is imperative that dog owners do their utmost to prevent the condition developing, before it has a chance to hurt their pet.
Causes And Prevention Of Nail Splitting
Malnutrition – The integrity of a dog’s nails is primarily based on the quality of their diet. This is because the substances that are required to assure the healthy function of the rest of the dog’s body are just as important in its paws, especially calcium, which forms the majority of the nail’s structure. If the dog is unable to obtain the right level of minerals to continue the healthy function of its organs, one of the first long-term consequences will be the degradation of its dental health and the state of its paws. If the problem is not rectified, the dog can go on to suffer significant weight loss and even organ failure. To stop this, you will have to alter the composition of the dog’s meals, by including a good amount of high-quality foods such as meats and fish. Dietary supplements such as omega 3, essential oils and fatty acids can be mixed into the dog’s food in the form of tablets if the dog proves otherwise unwilling to accept major changes to their diet. Furthermore, a vet can provide vaccinations and preventative medicines that will help prevent the possibility of intestinal parasites that may sap nutrients away from the dog. Both of these measures will have an immediate effect and will safeguard the dog against a large amount of potential health problems, including split nails.
Infection – There are numerous pathogens that live all around us, existing on all manner of surfaces in all manner of environments. These microbes are normally benign, but some can be especially dangerous if they are allowed to take up residence in the body. Fungi and bacteria are the main dangers, being able to enter the body and thrive if the immune system is already compromised by a major illness. With the dog’s paws being in constant contact with the ground (and thus dirt), they are especially vulnerable to damage. To stop such infections occurring, owners should make sure to thoroughly clean their dog’s paws and regularly inspect them. The folds of the nail beds can be harbors for dirt and should be paid particular attention. Furthermore, the dog’s living space should be kept clean and not allowed to have dirt build up, as this can result in microorganisms being brought into the house that can harm both the dog and the owner. On a related note, cancer can also be a cause of major problems with the nails, with paw tumors cutting off the blood supply or outright destroying the cells in the nails. Regular inspections of the paws can catch a tumor in its early stages, before it can do serious damage to the dog or cause the nails to break.
Injury – Finally, the most obvious cause of damage to a dog’s nails is direct damage. There can be several reasons for this, but by far the most common are poor nail grooming and allowing the dog to constantly walk over abrasive surfaces. Although a dog’s nails are designed to help with digging and manipulating objects, they can still get damaged if they are not taken care of. This is because many breeds of dog require humans to clip their nails periodically to prevent them from getting snagged on things. Likewise, rough surfaces such as asphalt or concrete can over time wear down the nails and cause them to fragment, along with causing abrasions to the pads of the paws. To remedy this, owners can make sure to clip their dog’s nails from time to time in order to remove damaged ends and stop them from easily getting caught on obstacles. Additionally, care can be taken to make sure that the dog is given ample opportunity to walk and play on grass and earth whenever possible so as to give their paws some relief.
Effects Of Prevention
By getting out ahead of the usual causes of nail deterioration, dog owners can also prevent a plethora of other medical problems that can harangue their pet and at the same time see benefits for themselves. In the short term, paying extra attention to an animal’s standard of hygiene and grooming will vastly improve the quality of life in a household, with the dog being less able to accidentally track dirt into the house on untrimmed claws and less likely to incur an unpleasant infection or injury. Secondly, the dog’s level of happiness will rapidly increase, as they will be much better able to move with well-kept paws than without. Additionally, the costs of vet fees will see an obvious decrease if the dog is kept in good health and any serious conditions are caught and dealt with in their infancy instead of being allowed to grow into a large-scale problem. And by avoiding such issues, the stress placed on both the dog and its owners can be largely eliminated.
A dog’s nails are a vitally important part of its body, allowing them to interact with the world and helping them to walk. Brittle and splitting nails can be a nightmare for an animal which is so enthusiastic to explore the world and play and exercise whenever possible. Furthermore, the underlying conditions can be incredibly dangerous to the general health of the creature. By tackling the root causes head-on before they have a chance to become serious problems, dog owners can guarantee their companion a measure of health and happiness for years to come.