Injuries to the claw, or nail area of a dog's paw, are most often seen in active dogs. Running, jumping, and digging can cause a whole host of nail injuries. These can be quite painful for a dog, which is actually a good thing because the associated limping or lameness of an appendage can tip you off that something is wrong with your dog's nails. You can then take your dog to the veterinarian to have the problem resolved.
A torn toenail is one of the more painful nail or claw injuries a dog can suffer because the dog will have to inadvertently rip part or all of the toe nail from the foot. This injury is usually caused by the toe nail getting stuck in fabric, carpet, or some other soft material that hooks onto the nail. As the dog pulls back, the nail is ripped and the blood vessel inside the nail is exposed. Besides limping and lameness, the most telling sign of a torn toenail is small amounts of bleeding from the claw area. This injury needs to be treated quickly as open wounds on the claws are easily infected.
Broken and Cracked Toenails
A broken toenail does not have to completely detach from the nail bed like a torn toenail. In some situations, a broken toenail will appear as a crack or multiple cracks. In other cases, the toenail will appear to be bent or crooked. Bleeding usually does not result from broken toenails unless the blood vessel inside the nail is exposed. More than likely your dog will exhibit an unwillingness to put weight on the affected leg, yelp in pain, and lick the wounded area. Broken and cracked toenails are usually the result of blunt force to the claw area such as hitting a rock while digging. Also, some dogs can suffer from brittle nails. These dogs will be more susceptible to this type of nail injury.
Cuts Around the Base of the Toenails
Dogs can often become excited and either not realise they are injured or will continue to play even though an injury to the claw area is causing some pain. One of the injuries a dog usually ignores at first but will feel later are cuts to the claw. Continual digging or stepping on a sharp object will either cause a cut or will eventually open up the skin at the base of the nail. Much like a torn toenail, this injury will result in some bleeding and is highly susceptible to infection if not treated immediately.