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What to do when your dog breaks a nail

Despite your best efforts to groom your dog from their teeth down to their toes, dogs can still break their nails. Just like humans, dogs’ nails are constantly growing and require clipping or natural filing which happens when they walk on hard surfaces like pavement or bitumen.
No matter how well-groomed your pooch is, they can still suffer injuries to their nails by being snagged on carpet or from a vigorous session of digging or jumping. No matter how trivial the cause, any trauma to this area can be very painful and should be taken seriously.
What’s under the surface?

Underneath the nail lies a whole bunch of nerves and blood vessels which are commonly referred to as ‘the quick’. If your dog has clear nails, you might be able to see the quick underneath, which is a pointed structure that can bleed when dogs’ nails are cut too short. The quick is a very sensitive structure that is also attached to the bone. This means that trauma to this region can result in extreme pain as well as serious bone infections.

How to recognise trauma

Often when the quick is exposed, your dog will experience discomfort which can be identified through:

-       Limping when weight is put on the paw
-       Hesitation to use the paw
-       Constant licking and grooming of painful site

What to do

A visit to the vet is your first port of call, however there are things you can do to minimise the pain and damage to your pooch whilst you await your vet appointment:

1.    Assess the severity of the injury if your dog will allow you to look at the nail: Depending on the degree of pain your dog is experiencing, it may not allow you to come anywhere near the site. If this is the case, do not force it and take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

2.    Stop the bleeding: do not apply any dressing to the paw as this can do more damage than good. Instead, trying to stop the bleeding by dipping the nail in some corn starch.

3.    Seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Your dog will need medical treatment to prevent the possibility of serious infection and may require medication to manage the pain.