Canine nail disorders

Written by heather vecchioni
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In general, dogs do not like to have their paws or nails handled or touched, especially when they have nail disorders. These disorders are common, often painful and can be difficult to treat. A nail disorder is often indicative of a larger health problem that needs to be addressed before the nail problem will go away.

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Brittle Nails

Dry nails that crumble easily when trimmed, are not painful and do not slough off are considered to be brittle. This is fairly common in dogs and can be a problem for your dog if he likes to dig or use his nails frequently. According to Dr. Mike Richards, the use of gelatin is anecdotally recommended for the treatment of brittle nails. While the dosage of gelatin varies, one should use two to five packages per day for a dog who weighs 38.6 Kilogram. Biotin supplements may also help counter brittle nails. Dogs should receive five milligrams per kilogram of the dog's weight of biotin per day. Brittle nails can be indicative of a zinc deficiency, in which case you can give your dog five milligrams per kilogram of zinc gluconate daily. Dr. Richards highly recommends the use of Omega-3 fatty acids to treat brittle nails, and suggests that owners give their dogs 180 milligrams per 4.54 Kilogram of body weight per day. However, before giving your dog any supplements, it is important to discuss this with your veterinarian.

Lupoid Onchodystrophy

Lupoid onchodystrophy is an uncommon disease that causes nail loss in dogs. It is typically seen in adult dogs and is believed to be immune-mediated, according to the Animal Dermatology Clinic of BC. Dogs who have this disease initially experience the loss of one or two nails, but eventually all of the other nails will slough off. Replacement nails often grow back, but are deformed, brittle, soft and discoloured and will usually fall out as well. Antibiotics are used to treat lupoid onchodystrophy when there is an infection present. Fatty acids can also help treat this disease. New nails should be trimmed about every two weeks and many dogs can stop treatment after about six months.

Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Bacterial infections in nails are usually present because of an underlying cause, such as allergies, Cushing's Disease, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disorders or possibly cancer, according to the Animal Dermatology Clinic of BC. The use of antibiotics can typically clear up the infection; however, the underlying cause needs to be addressed before the nails can fully heal.

Fungal infections can occur in the nails of dogs, but this is rare. Typically, only one or two nails are affected with fungal infections and anti-fungal therapy can usually heal the nails, in addition to foot soaking and topical treatments. Nails that are loose or sloughing should be removed and medication will need to be administered for one to three months.

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