The number one way to help prevent these types of injuries from happening, is to keep your dog’s nails properly trimmed. The goal is to keep their nails as short as possible, without hitting the quick. You can learn to do this yourself (oftentimes, your Veterinarian or Veterinary Technician can show you proper techniques) or you can take your dog to the groomer regularly.
Accidents happen, however. So, what can we do to help our dog if this injury occurs?
- Stay Calm - Remember, your pet gets its cues from you. Staying calm and centered will help mitigate some of your dog’s fear and sense of vulnerability.
- Safely Restrain Your Pup - Even the sweetest dog can bite when in pain as self-preservation instincts kick in. Make sure your pet is safely secured and calm. A muzzle can be a great tool here as well.
- Get Bleeding Under Control - Wrap your pet’s foot in gauze or a towel and apply gentle pressure for 5 - 10 minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, you can use cauterizing powder, a styptic pencil or powder or a silver nitrate stick on the nail. If none of these options are available, you can use some household items, such as a bar of soap, baking soda, flour, cornstarch or tea leaves packed against the nail for a couple of minutes.
- Check For Broken Pieces That Are Still Attached - If you can safely and easily remove these with clippers, this will help the nail heal with a good foundation for regrowth. Depending on the severity, this part is often best handled by your Veterinarian. Super glue can help stabilize the nail as you transport your dog to your Vet’s office.
- Watch For Infection - The risk for infection with this type of injury is extremely high, especially the closer the break is to the nail bed. Here, again, your Veterinarian is best suited for cleaning and treating this wound as well as prescribing antibiotics or powders to prevent or fight infection. If you choose not to go in immediately, monitor your dog closely. If its limping persists for more than two days, it may be a sign of infection and you will need to see your Veterinarian.
- Keep Your Pet’s Foot Bandaged And Clean - Whether you visit your Veterinarian or attempt to treat your dog at home, its foot will need to be kept clean and well bandaged to prevent contamination while it heals.
- Monitor Your Pet’s Pain - As mentioned before, this type of injury can be extremely painful. Monitor your pet, as pain medication may be necessary for a few days to keep your dog calm and more comfortable while it heals.
** This important blog post was written by our Lead Trainer: Mark Dunlap