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Nail and Nail Bed Disorders in Dogs: Important Information to Be Aware Of

Dogs use their claws for a variety of purposes. They provide traction and stability on hardwood floors and other slick surfaces. They also help when doing activities like playing frisbee, digging holes, and grasping objects.

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed and feeding them a balanced and nutritious diet can help prevent problems from developing. However, injuries, diseases, and infections related to them are still possible. 

This article will tackle what nail bed disorders in dogs are.

What Is a Nail Bed Disorder in Dogs?

The nail bed is the soft, pink area under the hard nail. A nail bed disorder is any condition that affects the nail bed. It can affect the dog’s ability to walk, run, play, and carry out other regular activities.

Other names sometimes used to describe a nail bed disorder are: nail fold disorders, nail fold pyoderma, and onychitis.

What Are Its Causes?

Several factors can cause nail bed disorders. One common reason is an infection. These infections can occur if the nail bed is injured, which can sometimes happen with dogs kept outside. It may also happen if the dog has a foot injury or an abscess.

Dogs that are overweight can develop nail fold disorders too. That is because extra weight can make it challenging to keep the pet’s nails trimmed.

Some dogs are also born with this disorder. Treatment depends on the cause of the problem and the severity of the disorder. Treatments may include topical, oral, or surgical procedures. 

Other common causes of nail bed disorders include poor nutritional intake. That may occur if the dog is an adult and not fed regularly. It may also happen if the dog has a medical condition such as anorexia or is not getting enough Vitamin A, C, or E. These nutrients are necessary for skin, hair, and nail health. 

Symptoms of Nail Disorder in Dogs

The symptoms of a nail bed disorder in dogs can vary. They may range from mild to severe and may be apparent or hidden. These are some symptoms to look for:

  • Trouble walking
  • Trouble standing
  • Having difficulty getting up and down
  • Trouble with climbing stairs
  • Having difficulty scratching an itch
  • Having difficulty running or playing
  • Trouble with handling objects such as balls or toys
  • Visible discomfort when grooming

Some nail bed disorders can cause pain. The dog may yelp, whimper, or cry when the area is touched. This type of behavior will help you to recognize and diagnose the problem. Your dog will also have difficulty licking and grooming the area. You would observe that they may be reluctant to put weight on the paw.

Diagnosing a Nail Bed Disorder in Dogs

The veterinarian will examine the dog and listen to the heart and lungs, and check the dog’s temperature. A nail bed disorder may cause the dog’s body temperature to rise.

The veterinarian will then examine the dogs  nails and paws. Doing so will help the veterinarian check for infection, injuries, and other abnormalities.

The veterinarian may take a skin sample for testing and a sample of any discharge from the nail bed. They may also use a machine called an otoscope. This device is placed against the dog’s nail bed, uses light to examine the nail bed, and helps diagnose nail bed disorders.

The professional may also take X-rays and perform other diagnostic tests such as blood tests, cultures, or biopsies.


Nail bed disorders happen very often. They are treatable and can usually be prevented. The best way to avoid a nail bed disorder is to keep the dog’s nails trimmed and feed the dog a nutritious and balanced diet. Contact your vet right away if you notice that your dog has trouble walking, standing, or performing other activities. Early treatment is essential, and it can prevent the dog’s condition from getting worse.

If you need a reliable dog grooming shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn Pet Spa is here to serve you. We offer quality dog styling, dog grooming, and nail trimming from our expertly trained and veteran groomers. Contact us today to book a service.

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