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Oh no! A broken nail!

Karma after a vet trip for a broken nail
Karma after a vet trip for a broken nail
Amelia Moreno

It is a common occurrence to dogs that play hard: sometimes a nail will crack. There are shallow splits, which do not reach down to the quick−a highly sensitive bundle of nerves that runs from the paw through the nail−and deeper splits that do expose the quick.

These cracks and splits can happen for any number of reasons: playing, running, jumping, catching the nail on something. The broken nail may bleed, which can be stopped by using a styptic powder such as Kwik Stop. Once the bleeding is stopped, the nail and foot should be gently cleaned with a cloth and warm water to remove any dirt and debris. Hydrogen Peroxide or a non-alcoholic wound wash should also be used to sterilize the nail before being wrapped. It is important to use a non-alcoholic cleanser so that any more unnecessary discomfort is not caused while cleaning the nail. Not all nail splits will require bandaging, but it is good practice to clean it thoroughly.

To keep cracked and split nails to a minimum, it is very important to first keep a pet’s nails neatly trimmed so there is little chance of the nails getting caught on anything. An owner can take the dog to the a grooming facility, which takes less than five minutes and costs less than ten dollars, buy dog nail clippers for him (which is not suggested since an owner may inadvertently cut a nail too short and end up cutting the quick themselves), or have the pet’s nails done at the vet’s office.

Most cracked nails are not serious, but if the animal is limping or refusing to put pressure on the foot, and the quick is exposed, it is best to take the pet to the vet. The vets know how to cut the nail without causing more damage and how to wrap the foot for support. They can also prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine to ease pain and prevent infection.

At that point, it is a matter of giving the dog her mediations as directed, keeping the area clean and letting it grow and heal up on its own. Try to minimize the time a dog spends licking the injured foot and nail as this may lead to further complications by hindering the healing process.