The title of the articles says it all..and it sounds quite painful. We at the Marquette Veterinary Clinic have seen our fair share of torn nails in dogs (and occasionally cats) when they were out enjoying their day. This happens when the animal’s nail gets traumatized by something like a small root, branch, or rock and the shell of the nail rips completely or partially off, leading to the exposure of the nail bed. Ouch!

When this happens, many owners will notice blood coming from the paw along with their pet limping and trying to lick the area. If this happens, it’s best to contact your veterinarian so they may promptly treat the traumatized nail. Leaving the nail bed exposed to the elements can lead to a nail bed/bone infection which can be more difficult to treat. Your veterinarian will likely remove any remnants of the shell, apply a bandage to protect the exposed nail bed, and start them on antibiotics. As long as the nail bed is intact, a new shell will grow over the affected toe again in a matter of a few months. 

How can torn nails be prevented? Dog’s with a “hook” appearance to their nails are more prone to having the nail get caught and subsequently torn, thus it’s best to keep up on nail trimmings to keep the shells short. Many owners can trim nails themselves, but if the animal is more stubborn with having their nails trimmed, many grooming facilities and even your veterinarian can assist with nail trims. If you notice your pet seems to be “clicking” a lot on the hard surfaces of your home when walking, it might be a good time to set up a “mani/pedi” session for your furry friend. 

Dr. Edward G. Brauer III