Nail injuries – torn and split nails

Toenail Injuries in Hunting Dogs

Toenail injuries are very common in dogs. All dogs, not just hunting dogs. A dog can just as easily tear a nail on the carpet or a chain link fence as he can in the field.

Dog nails are very sensitive (just like our own), especially when there has been a trauma that exposes the quick, the area that contains the blood vessels and nerves. Often times, torn or split nails heal well on their own. It pays to keep a close eye on them as intervention can be necessary.

If a dog injures a toenail in the field, we follow this process:

  • Rinse nail with fresh water or saline (preferred)
  • Apply styptic powder (or even flour) to help stop bleeding
  • Head back to the truck for some rest and further evaluation
  • If we can safely trim the nail or broken part of the nail we will do so
  • Bandage or wrap as necessary

Once out of the field, carefully inspect the injured nail. It’s generally ok to take a “wait and see” approach with nail injuries, but use common sense and call your vet if anything seems amiss. Excessive licking can be a sign of infection and infections may require oral antibiotics. Badly torn nails sometimes need to be removed under sedation. So if you have any doubts, call your vet.

Post field care:

  • Betadine soaks
  • Rest
  • Monitor for infection or excessive limping

Dog Nail Injury Prevention

One of the easiest and most effective wait to prevent dog toenail injuries is to keep their nails trimmed. We recommend doing this yourself and prefer to use nail clippers with a guide. Make sure the nail clippers are appropriately sized for your dog. Regularly trimming your dog’s nails will have the added benefit of making it easier to care for an injured nail. A dog that is used to having its paws handled, will be more likely to let you handle an injured paw. Use caution and a muzzle when trimming an injured nail.

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