Your dog’s nails may seem sturdy but they are prone to breakage. If they’re already too long and possible a little jagged, they can easily get hooked on things. Anything from an active game of fetch to getting a nail hooked on the carpet can cause damage.
If your dog is a bit of a couch potato, sudden nail breakage may not be much of an issue. The problem, however, is that your dog probably doesn’t get an opportunity wear his nails down naturally.
Dogs that are walked regularly (especially on side-walks or along the side of paved streets) will partially wear down their nails. This tends to be true of bigger dogs who require a lot more exercise. Toy or mini breeds may not get that level of activity, but they still need to have their nails clipped.
The best thing you can do for your dog is keep his/her nails short. Long nails are vulnerable to breakage. In addition, nail longs can be uncomfortable for dogs to walk with. One of the worst things that can happen is an ingrown nail.
Ingrown nails occur when the nail curves down into the skin. This is extremely painful for your dog and can affect the way he/she is able to move and function properly.
Anatomy of the Quick – Why Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Mess With It
If you’ve ever clipped a dog’s nail too close to the quick, you’ll know why they’re so afraid. It’s very painful and usually involves a lot of blood.
The reason is because of the quick. A dogs toenails are made of protein called alpha-keratin. In fact, it’s found in the hooves, claws and horns of vertebrates.
The hard part of the nail protects live tissue beneath it. That live tissue is made up of nerves, lymph and blood vessels. The tough nail you see on top is considered “dead”. That’s why it doesn’t hurt when you clip it.
It’s the live tissue beneath (the quick) that hurts and bleeds when accidentally cut. This is where you’ll find the tender, blood rich cells that cause all of the pain and blood loss.
The Different Levels of Nail Injuries in Dogs
Experienced pet owners will tell you how common dog nail injuries are. Puppies have tiny, soft paws with delicate nails that can easily be clipped too close to the quick. In contrast, the nails of older pets tend to be brittle.
Level – Mild
Sometimes a broken nail is mild. There may be a slight split that doesn’t extend deeply into the quick (if at all). Pet owners may notice there is a sudden roughness or scuffed appearance to the nail.
This kind of injury can be caused be running in a hard surface, jumping down onto a hard surface, etc.
If there’s blood and the dog doesn’t appear to be bothered by a mild broken nail injury, you may simply need to smooth the nail with a file.
Level II – Moderate Injury
A moderate injury can still be very painful. Clipping a dog’s nails to close to the quick, for example, will cause injury and pain. If you have clipped your dog too closely, there are a few things you can do.
If you have someone around to help, have that person soothe the dog and offer treats to take his/her mind off of what you are doing. While this is happening, you can wrap the toe in gauze or towel to help slow the bleeding. Press down lightly for a few minutes.
Remove the towel. If the bleeding doesn’t appear to be stopping, try dabbing a styptic pencil on the end of the wound. The pencil will create a thick barrier on the wound that will help stop the bleed.
Warning: Styptic pencils and powders will sting a little when first applied.
Still not stopping the blood flow? Try gently pushing the nail into a bar of soap. The soap will act as a barrier while the blood clots. If the bleeding still won’t stop, you may be well advised to seek the help of your local vet.
Level IV – Worst Case Scenario
In this situation, your dog may have done something that severely damaged part of the nail. In extreme cases, there may be an exposed nail bed. It’s possible the toenail will be dangling from the nailbed itself.
When a dog’s toenail is mangled this much, it’s best to get the help of a veterinarian. This is a situation where the whole nail needs to be surgically removed.
How Much Does it Cost to Have a Dog’s Toenail Removed
The question on veterinarian costs is hard to answer because it depends on your location. City clinics tend to charge more than small-town rural offices.
Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 dollars. The overall cost of nail removal surgery will depend on a few factors including how much anesthetic your dog requires, whether there is an infection of the nail bed, etc.
This is an estimate of the costs. Small rural areas may pay less than a big city clinic. When you get the bill, realize that the total cost will likely include the following:
- Veterinarian’s time and expertise
- The cost of supplies used (bandages, etc.)
- Local anesthetic injection
- Pain medication
- Antibiotic ointment
The cost of the procedure will depend on whether you are able to access your regular vet during regular business hours or whether you need to see an emergency vet. Since emergency veterinarians are working off-hours, you may pay double what you would have normally paid.
How Long Will it Take My Dog’s Toenail to Regrow?
The good news is that the dog’s nail will grow back quickly. In fact, you should see enough nail growth in 2 to 3 weeks to cover the quick again. That said, if the nail was torn out of the root and there was more serious damage, it may take a few months for the nail to complete regrow.
5 Easy Ways to Reduce Veterinarian Costs
The best way to reduce veterinarian costs is to be prepared at home. The suggestions below are designed to be preventative in nature.
Because when an emergency happens, we’re more likely to panic or agree to just about anything to help our dogs. That’s exactly what I would do. However, with a little pre-planning, you might be able to avoid some of the add-on costs of a veterinarian visit.
There are a few affiliate links in this post. That just means that if you click on one and make a purchase, I get a small commission in return. It doesn’t cost you anything more, but it helps keep this blog running.
Taking an inexpensive, short pet first aid course a long way in reducing the amount of trips you need to make to the vet. The following list is a good starting point to get ready for future issues.
The following 5 suggestions may help you the next time your dog gets into a little bit of trouble.
#1. PREVENTION THROUGH REGULAR TRIMS
It’s a good idea to keep your dog’s nails short to avoid accidental breakage. The trick is to trim your dog’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks.
When a dog’s nails are left to grow too long, the quick grows with them. The “quick” is the area of living tissue inside the nail. If you’ve ever clipped your own nails to closely, you know how much it hurts.
Regular nail trims help to push the quick back which makes it easier to clip your dog’s nails in the future.
#2. KEEP A FIRST AID KIT AT HOME
First aid kits are essential for any home, especially for homes with children and pets. You can easily put together your own first aid kit by including the basics:
- styptic pencil
- styptic powder
- sterile gauze
- antibiotic ointment
- Benadryl for allergic react
- Quality dog nail clippers
If you’re like me, you’d rather buy a basic first aid kit that already has everything I need in it. A few of my favorites include the following:
This is a hands-down favorite for dog parents. This kit includes everything you could possibly need to mend, patch, and protect your pooch.
iCare Pet First Aid Kit includes:
- Digital Thermometer
- Gauze Pads (S, M)
- Triangle Bandage
- Exam Gloves
- First Aid Tape 2 (5 cm)
- Tweezers (S)
- Antiseptic Wipes
- Lice Clip
- First Aid Bag
- Paper Sleeve
- Wooden Tongue Depressors
- Patch Adhesive 7*10cm
- Conforming Gauze Rolls (M)
- High Elastic Bandage (S)
- Self Adhesive Bandage (S)
- Emergency Blanket
- Quick reference guide for common crisis situations.
Other Top Notch First Aid Kits for Dogs Include:
#2. WALK YOUR DOG ON PAVEMENT
Dogs naturally wear down their nails when regularly walked on a hard surface. The only nail that doesn’t wear down is a dog’s dew claws. These are located on the inside of the front paws.
#3. INSPECT PAWS REGULARLY
Dogs are really good at hiding their discomfort and pain. Unless they are in significant pain, or bleeding, you may not realize there’s a problem. Nail breaks are a common injury, especially for active dogs.
Even small dogs that spend more time indoors can break or tear a nail.
Check your dog’s nails after outdoor activity. Cuts to the paw pads, an embedded foreign object, and ingrown nails can all contribute to your dog’s pain and discomfort.
#4. Remember Paw Pad Protection
Nails and paw pads go together. If one is cracked and broken, the whole foot hurts. Depending on your location, your dog may have to walk across scorching hot pavement in the summer or sharp, slippery ice in the winter.
Winter walks can also involve damaging salt finding it’s way into your dog’s paw pads. Apply a paw balm like Vets Preferred.
#5. Protective Paw Wear
Some dogs simply need a little help in the paw area. If your dog has sensitive feet or is prone to breakage, think about getting him/her specially made foot wear. There are countless varieties out there, but we like: All Weather Neoprene Paw Protector with Reflective Straps.
Luckily, minor injuries to a dog’s nails can be treated at home. The expense comes into play when a large portion of the nail is broken. A cracked nail or a broken toenail may need the expertise of a licensed veterinarian.
The trick in reducing veterinarian costs is to be prepared for the inevitable misadventures your active dog is sure to have. It’s par for the course!
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you’ll come back for more top quality posts related to your dog’s health matters!