A dog can face immense pain when a nail has been bent sideways or broken. Usually, a dogs’ dew claws (nails on front of the foot) are more prone to breaking even with small blows rather than the hind paw nails. It is quite common for dogs’ nails to bend or break and if not treated, can cause the nail to be ripped from the nail bed. This can happen under various circumstances.
How do dog nails bend?
A dog can have its nail accidentally bent in many ways:
Cutting nails at a weird angle or cutting too deep can cause the nail to be bent. This is because the quick is on the end of the paw and it is quite a sensitive part, so your dog can face a lot of discomforts if this happens and even whimper in pain if you touch this part.
Jumping from tall heights:
If a dog has long nails and it jumps from big heights, there is a great chance that the nail could bend sideways or even rip apart depending on the intensity of the fall.
Digging its paws deep into a surface:
Some dogs have a habit of pushing their nails on surfaces like grass, rugs, or mud, and sometimes a small drag can cause the nail to be bent on the paw, causing bleeding and extreme discomfort. Unhygienic places can also cause infection specially if there is a tear followed by the nail bend. After accidents like these, a thorough check up is necessary to make sure no dirt gets in the wound.
Can get caught in things:
Long nails can easily get stuck in clothes, carpets, or any other material, and if the dog yanks its paw too hard then it can bend the nail and cause tears around the paw which are very painful.
Some dogs may have weak nails since birth, in this case, it is easier for a nail to bend. To make them stronger your vet might prescribe your pet some medications and vitamins so it is less likely to fall victim to a painful bent nail
Is it important to treat a bent nail?
It is of utmost importance that a bent nail be treated as soon as possible.
The dew claws of a dog do not touch the floor properly when they walk, unlike other nails that may get dulled just by walking on the ground. Hence, if not trimmed regularly, there is a greater chance for the dew claw to get bent or ripped off if it comes in contact with the ground in an unusual manner.
The area that surrounds the nail in a dog’s paw is called a quick, which contains several neurons and important vessels that stimulate feeling in the paw. The quick is also attached to the bone from one end, which means that if a nail is trimmed too deep, it can not only cause infection in the nail bed but may also spread to the bone structure. Therefore, it is important to treat the nail as soon as a nail bend has been noticed in its paw.
How to know your dog has a bent nail?
Oftentimes, it is not obvious to figure out if your dog has a bent nail. Especially when the nail is bent sideways, it can cause your pet to feel pain in its whole paw instead of just the finger. You can try to take a look at your canines’ paws, but if it is hesitant to let you take a look, then your suspicions of a bent nail may be true. However, there are other signs your dog may give away which could indicate a bent nail, such as:
- Constant licking of the paw
- Limping while walking
- Swollen paw
- Bloody paw, blood spots around fingers, or even drops of blood where your dog has walked
Many dog owners have noticed infection and even discharge around the bent nail, so after examining the paw if you find such symptoms, make sure to refer to a vet immediately.
How to treat the bent nail
- Keep a firm grip: Firstly, have someone hold your dog firmly while you examine and treat the bent nail. As mentioned, dogs can be really hesitant to even let you touch their paw if they are wounded, so you have to take proper measures.
- Remove the remaining nail: If some part of the nail is hanging from the paw, then it must be removed. Make sure you use sterilized tools for this step to prevent infection.
- Stop the bleeding: You can wrap a towel or a piece of gauze around the paw and put pressure on the wound for a few minutes. This should stop it from bleeding but if it doesn’t, then some dog owners suggest using a styptic pencil which comes in an animal emergency kit, and this should stop the bleeding fairly quickly. Another alternative to styptic pencil is applying cornflour to the wound and waiting for about 4-7 minutes.
- Clean up to avoid infection: An open wound can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so make sure you disinfect the wound well until there is no dirt or blood around the affected nail.
- Bandaging: Try to bandage the paw in a way where the paw is still slightly free to move, your pooch is less likely to yank it off this way. Having a thick sock of part of a legging wrapped around the paw is a good option. You can also lightly tape the bandage to the paw or tie it with knots, but if your dog is active and likes to move around a lot throughout the day without restrictions, this won’t be feasible.
A cone around its neck for 3 to 4 days, or until the wound is healed is a good option, the paw will heal by itself with minimal interruption.
- Changing bandage daily: Regular changing of bandage is necessary. You can keep a check on the progress of healing of the wound every day, take note if any bleeding has occurred, and your dog is more likely to be free from infections due to timely bandage changes.
Avoiding nail bending in the future
If your dogs’ nails are broken quite frequently, then it is important to take precautions to avoid it because it can weaken the nail bed. If your dog is active and does not sit still for a long time, then the best option for you would be to keep its nails short at all times. Make sure to ask your vet how to do the trimming at home (if you plan to do this all by yourself), and get all the necessary materials and tools you need to get the job done.
Using sharpened and sterilized trimmers instead of dull ones should make it easier for both you and your dog, and also make sure to learn from your vet how to avoid the quick while trimming, as cutting too deep may cause even more pain to your dog. (avoid the quick)
Try to prioritize this task as long nails could make your dog relive the excruciating pain of a nail bend.
Dog nails are not much different from human nails; a bend or a crack can feel painful and must be taken care of immediately.
In any case, if you find any of the symptoms of a bent nail as listed above in your dog, make sure to take care of it under the supervision of an experienced professional, so you don’t hurt your furry friend.