Snagged Broken Nails – Because dogs like to tear around when they play, they do sometimes catch the odd claw on the ground or on loose surfaces – particularly their dew claws. This can be really very painful indeed and even though you may THINK you’re helping, if ever there was a time you are likely to be bitten for interfering, this is it. For this reason I would strongly advise that unless you wish to lose a finger, muzzle your furry friend before you inspect the damage.
If you don’t have a muzzle, you can always use a length of bandage to wrap around the snout and secure behind your dog’s head so he can’t remove it. I’ve already covered “impromptu muzzles” in a past blog. Impromptu Muzzles & Eye Injuries
If there is only a little section of nail hanging off, then as a rule your dog will prefer to nibble and lick at it to deal with it personally.
If, however, it’s a bit more serious than that, then really human assistance is going to be vital. If we leave the dog to deal with it for himself, it tends to end in the nail ripping backwards, even further into the quick and boy does that hurt.
This picture shows a broken nail, revealing the soft pink quick within the nail shaft.
This picture shows the quick of the nail completely exposed after the outer shell has been removed.
Please don’t try to use your clippers to sort out the problem. Imagine if you had bent your fingernail back or ripped it a long way down the nail bed. You certainly wouldn’t want someone to come along and just cut it off now would you? So I’m afraid its definitely a case for the vet as this is something that can only be dealt with under sedation.
If possible, soak the paw in saline (salt water) to get the nail as clean as possible if the split in the nail goes right down to the quick or the quick is exposed at all, it could very easily become infected and if the infection travels up the nailbed you will at best be left with a deformed nail and at worse a serious infection which could even travel up the leg. For this reason, wound hygiene is paramount and a professional opinion from your Vet should ideally be sought
What you can do is protect them from doing further damage to the injured nail as you take them to the vet. The damaged nail or claw really does need covering up to prevent them nibbling at it in the car. The best tool for the job is nothing more specialised than a sock. Carefully wrap the injured paw in a loose wound dressing and pop a sock over it. Secure the sock in place with some vet wrap high up the leg, and whisk them off to the vet as soon as possible before the situation becomes any worse.
Thank you very much to Joanne Letts for allowing me to use these pictures of her beautiful boy.