Claw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
Aug 20, 2008
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank



Nail and Nail Bed Disorders in Dogs

Nail and nail bed disorders refer to any abnormality or disease that affects the claw or surrounding area, generally known as dystrophy. One type of nail disorders, paronychia, is an infection that causes inflammation around the nail or claw. Fungal infections, such as onychomycosis, can also occur in or around the nail bed.

Dogs may suffer from extremely brittle nails (onychorrhexis), or have nails that slough, peel, or chip away excessively (oychomadesis). Most nail or nail bed disorders have an excellent treatment prognosis and can usually be treated and remedied in a relatively short amount of time.

Symptoms and Types of Nail Disorders in Dogs

Common signs of nail or nail bed disorders can include:

  • Licking at the paws
  • Lameness, difficulty walking
  • Pain in the feet
  • Swelling or redness of the tissues surrounding the nails
  • Nail plate deformity (the part of the nail that overlays the nail bed)
  • Abnormal nail color

Causes of Paw and Nail Disorders in Dogs

Common causes for nail or nail bed disorders can include:

  • Infection
  • Bacteria or fungus
  • Tumor or cancer
  • Trauma
  • Immune system (immune-mediated) diseases
  • Excessive levels of growth hormone
  • Disorders present at birth (congenital)
  • Cutting the nails too close to the nail bed
  • Neoplasia

Diagnosing Dog Nail Disorders

In the event that there is a trauma to your dog's nail bed, check to see if only a single nail is being affected. If multiple nails are affected, a serious underlying medical condition is the more likely cause for the disorder. A skin scraping may also be taken to determine what type of a skin condition your dog has, as well as a bacterial or fungal culture for further analysis.

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