Dog Care – Broken and Bleeding Toe Nail

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 317,120
    Dr. Candy Olson demonstrates how to care for a dog’s broken and bleeding toe nail.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi! I'm Dr. Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital. We're shooting a series of video showing how to take care of your dog at home. This is Pudder, he is going to be helping with this section. This is one of my assistants Melissa. We're covering what to do if your dog has a broken toenail, especially if it's bleeding. There are a couple of important things to realize here. First of all, the little Dew claws, these little firm ones. But they are on the inside, are the most vulnerable for a dog to break, but they can break any of their nails; front feet are more likely than the back. And just imagine, now if you cracked a toenail and broke it off, first of all it's painful, tends to bleed, but in the dog, it's also very easy for it to get infected, particularly, if it's one of these regular toes down here because it's constantly in the dirt.

    So, it's important to have it checked. It's not really an emergency but it's an easy thing to take care of it at home until you can get your dog to the bed. The important thing is if the dog's nail is cracked and there is a piece that's dangling, that piece should be removed because every time it moves the slightest bit, it's going to be painful. So, if you possibly can, if there is a dangling piece, you want to snip it off and you can usually do that quick with just a pair if scissors. If your dog is jumping around and that you're thinking, oh I really can't do that, that's okay too but that's the best way to do it. The second thing you want to do is until you can bring your dog into the bed and have it checked, you want to cover and protect it. The easiest way to do that is to just to make the bandage out of an old sock, and what you're going to want to do, is just slip this over his foot and smooth it all the way up like so and then right, this is kind of the equivalent of his wrist here, in the back of the wrist there is a little extra pad, it's in the back there, so you're going to want to go just a little bit above the wrist, above that little pad, it sticks out in the back and you're going to put a piece of tape around it and see there is the wrist, there is a little pad, so we're going to go right here and we're going to have this tape, be snug enough so if you go and pull, it's not going to slip over that pad but itds still loose enough so that it slips up and down a little bit. That means it's not too tight. And then what you want to do is take this upper part, kind of pull it back down so now you have got two layers underneath there. And now one of the things about putting those what we call it sock bandage like this on the dog is, it feels weird, lot of dogs are going to chew it, lick at it, and some dogs are just going to rip it right off. But if nothing else, it will give the time for you to call your vet back and get him over there so that they can take care of him. He may just need to have the nail trimmed, he may need to have a soft paw, which is basically like a bandage for the nail put on or he may need to have antibiotics to make sure it doesn't get infected, some dogs need all three.

    The nice thing about the little sock bandage is, it's easy to do, everybody's got socks around and if it happens in the evening, for example, and you think, hey I can't get him in there until tomorrow, it's a way of buying some time. If the nail is badly broken, he will bleed and the sock will get bloody. In that case you can take it off and put another one on. If it bleeds for more than 30 minutes, even if it's just an occasional drip, you should at least call an emergency Veterinarian and tell him what's going on and see does it need to come in or not. But, it's common for them too. It will bleed for a little bit then will stop, it gets little more active, he may bend that break and bleed a little bit more but you do want to be careful with it. Well, it's really hard to get up on these things and so this is not only helping to protect him in the nail, but it also really helps to protect your house and your car when you're coming over here.

    When you want to take this off you just reverse the process. You just want to slide this backup and until you can easily see the tape and then take the tape off. This kind of tape by the way which is a cloth adhesive tape, it's a good kind to use, you can also use any human first aid kind of tape, sometimes the paper, sometimes the cloth. You do not want to use a tape like masking tape because the edges are very sharp and that can irritate the skin even through the bandage and so you do want to use some kind of a first aid type of tape. But, that's the best way to handle the idea of a broken toe nail, if it's a back toenail you do exactly the same thing but rather than use this little pad here at the back of the wrist you use, this is the dog's ankle here, you do the same thing but you put it up over above the ankle, put the tape here and do your little check thing can you pull it down but can it still move and turn it around and put it back down. So, it works equally well for front or back feet. Now, if you have a little dog, a Chihuahua, Schnauzer, something like that with little legs and you're going to need a child sock, that's going to be way too big and if it's too big they're not going to feel comfortable with it. It's going to be really tough to keep it on.