Wednesday, 23rd May 2012
Nail problems in pets
The toenails of dogs and cats are generally strong and robust, but they are prone to disease and occasional accidental damage. The most common injuries occur when the nails grow too long and then break or split during normal activity, e.g. running, digging, climbing etc. Broken nails can be very painful and may also provide an opening for infection.
A dogs toenails grow at an average rate of 2 mm per week. In some cases, if a dog is active, walks regularly on paths/concrete runs or dig the ground, the nails will wear down enough to cancel out the growth. The exception to this is the dewclaws, which are the digits on the inside of the paws. They do not come in contact with the ground and tend not to wear down. Virtually all dogs have dewclaws on the front legs, equivalent to the human thumb, but only some will have them on the hind legs as well. Dewclaws should be regularly checked and clipped if necessary. Indoor dogs are particularly prone to overgrown nails as are terrier dogs which are "bow-legged" in front.
If the nails overgrow enough, they will eventually penetrate the soft pads underneath the toe or behind the dewclaw, causing pain, lameness, bleeding and infection, which will require veterinary treatment. Some of these cases will require sedation or anaesthesia to allow the nails to be properly trimmed, and the wounds treated and bandaged, such is the distress suffered by the dog or cat. Most dogs require regular nail trimming and the owner should be aware of overgrown/ingrown nails.
Overgrown nails can tear or break off due to being snagged in fabric or carpet, or accidentally slipping on wet or icy surfaces. They tend to bleed profusely immediately afterwards, and the sensitive nail bed (quick) is left exposed. It will continue to cause pain, especially if there is an unstable hanging nail left rubbing on the nail bed. The nail bed and the soft tissues of the toe can quickly become infected and need antibiotic treatment from your vet. If a nail breaks near the quick, it is best to have it removed by your vet, and I would advise strongly against attempting to remove it yourself using a nail-clippers. Anaesthesia and pain relief will be required, and also further treatment to counteract bleeding and the possibility of infection. Nail bed infections can be serious, and can result in the complete loss of a digit if they are not properly treated. The nail will generally grow back in cases of nail loss, unless the nail bed is too badly damaged.
Elderly cats are prone to nail problems, as they can become inactive, no longer wearing their nails down by climbing, walking etc. and their nails can quite rapidly become ingrown and badly infected. The owner may notice that their cat is very quiet and inactive, and the problem may only become obvious on closer inspection. Diet also influences healthy nail growth, as a healthy balanced diet will contain essential nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc and essential omega 3 fatty acids.
Letters to the Editor
- Editorialread more »
Making Hay while the Sun ShinesNaturally, by the time that you read this editorial the weather will have changed majorly several times and we will have experienced lashing rain, snow, gale force winds and hailstones but the thing is that for about the first time this year we have experienced some really good weather that lasted for more than the usual 20 minutes to half an hour. As a nation we are obsessed by the weather and its entirely understandable. It is so variable and in such a constant flux that …
We're delighted to announce the launch of the new-look Waterford Today website. Tell us what you think of the new site design?
Total votes: 44 Refresh results