If you are a dog owner, you might have heard or come across the issue of nail splitting some or the other time.
Once my Labrador was too busy in its play and i suddenly found a broken piece that looked like a bone on the floor. Later i found it to be my dog’s nail. But the incident was not at all painful for my dog. My dog didn’t even care about the issue.
But this could not be the case every time. Sometimes if a nail splits it could be the worst form of pain that your dog could ever face. Your dog could start limping, whining, crying as it could be very painful for him.
Usually, many dog owners do not have an idea regarding their dog’s nails and issues related to them. Dog nails are one of the things that most dog owners neglect. This may lead to broken nails, damaged nails, fungal infections, and painful dog nail splits.
Your dog’s nails could get damaged in different ways. Sometimes they may get cracked in a random manner, sometimes they may split horizontally. And sometimes even the dog nail splits vertically. This happened once with my dog.
So what to do if your dog’s nail splits in half vertically?
What if the dog nail splits vertically and no bleeding occurs? How to deal with the issue when bleeding occurs?
What is the immediate treatment?
How to prevent nail splitting issues in your dog in the long run?
This article below answers all your above questions
Firstly what is nail splitting in dogs?
Breakage of nails is a common occurrence in humans and even dogs. But as humans, we take a bit extra care about our nails by regular grooming and hence we do not constantly face this issue of nail breakages. But dogs are usually prone to nail splits.
Nail splitting is also a form of nail damage in dogs, but in this case, the dog’s nail splits in half vertically along lengthwise or sometimes horizontally.
The nail split usually occurs when the nail is subjected to sudden or unusual physical stress that causes the nail to split.
This physical stress may occur when your dog does some rough play or while jumping and hitting other objects or snagging on carpet or other materials.
Nail splitting in dogs may also occur due to various reasons other than physical trauma.
5 Major causes of dog nail splits
1. Firstly trauma
As i have already said, physical injury is one of the major reasons for nail splitting in dogs. If your dog is a very active one that enjoys playing and running, it is at risk of nail splits. Your dog’s physical activities could cause damage to its toenails if they are not short.
2. Long nails
A dog in the wild usually doesn’t have long nails, as its nails are naturally eroded because of its physical contact with nature. Its nails are naturally subjected to grinding.
But a dog in your home, which walks on carpets and smooth surfaces will surely have overgrown nails unless trimmed regularly.
These long nails are always at a risk of damage and breakage and can cause nail splitting issues.
3. Nutritional deficiency
If you want your skin, hair, and nails to be healthy, you need to have a properly balanced diet. Since every part from head to toe is part of your body, any aspect related to your body can be affected because of the nutrition it receives.
This is the same for your dog too.
Your dog’s hair and nails are made of keratin, which is nothing but a form of protein. And your dog needs to get its daily required nutrition through its food.
If your dog is devoid of its essential proteins and nutrients that keep its nails strong and healthy, its nails can get become brittle.
4. Due to other health conditions
In this case, nail splits, nail cracks are not problems but are a consequence of another underlying problem.
Various problems such as fungal infections near the claws, tumors near the nail bed, autoimmune diseases, allergies, inflammation of the nails, all could lead to the weakening of the nails. This could eventually lead to nail splits and nail cracks.
In any of such cases, it is important to take your dog to the vet and correct the underlying issue.
What to do when your dog’s nail splits vertically?
Whenever you notice a split in your dog’s nail. You need to observe certain things. Is the nail split short or long? How far has the spit occurred? Is the dog in pain? Whether there is any kind of bleeding near the nail?
A dog nail split vertically can be a short one or a long one.
If the split is short, the dog’s nail may not bleed and it may not be usually very painful for your dog.
The intensity of pain increases as the length of the split increases. In some cases, the split occurs too long till the base of the nail and this is the case where your dog usually bleeds. If you notice the split till the base of the nail, it can be a very painful condition for your dog.
While talking about nail splits, have you heard the word “quick”? or the word “quick exposed”?
Your dog has a soft, pink tissue behind the nail which is a collection of blood vessels and nerves. This is called the quick. The hard nail acts as a protection and surrounds the sensitive quick.
Unlike the nails, the quick is a living tissue and because of this reason exposure of quick can be uncomfortable and painful for your dog.
So when the nails split vertically up to the quick, the blood oozes out from the blood vessels in the quick. In that case, your dog usually bleeds and suffers from pain.
The quick is also attached to the bone, hence any damage to the quick can have an impact on the bone too. If the area near the quick is infected, the infection gets spread to the bone.
If the nail split happens in this way, it is essential to take your dog to the vet as a split nail that reaches the base can be extremely painful and prone to infection.
You need to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible to save your dog from excruciating pain.
But sometimes the nail splits and breaks off, but there might not be any signs of bleeding, it means that the nail fell off from the middle but not from the quick.
The split here is a short one. This is not a cause of worry. But you need to trim off the nail till the area of the split, as it might get caught among other objects and the nail might tear apart or the split might increase.
What can you do before taking your dog to the vet?
As soon as you notice your dog’s nail split and bleeding remember that you need to handle your dog with caution. Your dog might bite you because of anxiety and pain.
So you need to be careful while handling your dog. It would be better if someone is along with you for help. One of them could handle the dog and comfort him, while the other can deal with the nail split.
Follow the stepwise procedure on how to deal with the nail split.
1. Hold your dog firmly but make sure that it is comfortable. If necessary, you can use a mouth cap to make sure that it doesn’t bite.
2. Try to control the bleeding using a cloth or a soft towel. If the dog nail splits in half vertically, remember to wrap the towel around the dog’s toe in a direction perpendicular to the split. As the split occurred vertically, you need to wrap the towel around the toe in such a way that there is no extra pressure being exerted that could increase the split.
3. Try some styptic pencil or any cauterizing powder that could stop the excess bleeding. If you don’t have them available. Grab some turmeric and sprinkle it over the wound. As turmeric has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, it might help.
4. Some people suggest removing the broken portion of the nail, the hanging part using a clipper. But i suggest you not perform this on your own. It could be best performed by your vet, especially when your dog is bleeding and in pain.
5. As soon as possible, take your dog to the vet, so that your dog could get some medication that could help in minimizing its horrible pain.
Preventing dog nail splits
It is better to prevent your dog’s nail splits rather than allowing your dog to face the painful process of injury and repair.
When your dog is in nature, it walks and runs, its nails are naturally subjected to grinding, and it is not prone to nail splits and nail breakages easily.
But as your dog doesn’t stay in its natural environment and stays with you, it is your responsibility to prevent these painful nail splits. You can avoid them by following these techniques.
1. Keep nails trimmed
When your dog has short nails, it is unlikely to have nail splits and nail cracks. The longer the length of the nail, the greater is the risk of nails getting caught into something and the greater is the risk of nail splits.
Trim your dog’s nails properly using a good dog nail clipper like this or a good nail grinder. Trimming should be done properly. Trim them to the proper length, not too short, and make sure that quick is not exposed.
It’s good to invest in a proper tool like this to take care of your dog’s nails and prevent nail splits.
2. Provide the right nutrition
Strong nails are hard to break, whereas weak and brittle nails can be easily split and broken.
Lack of essential nutrition can be one of the causes of weak nails. Hence make sure that your dog gets the combination of all the essential nutrients to keep its nails strong.
Feeding your dog with foods rich in biotin and high-quality fish oil supplements can improve its overall skin and nail health.
3. Regular checkups
Sometimes your dog might have had a small split which is not painful for him and it might not bother him. But if you don’t notice the mild split, the split nail might get caught into something and it could completely rip off your dog’s nail causing extreme pain for him.
Hence it is essential to have a look at your dog’s nails and check for any cracks, small splits, and any kind of nail disease or fungal infections.
This kind of regular checkup could prevent the worsening of issues related to your dog’s nails.
4. Avoid rough play with long nails
Some dogs are habituated to rough play and this is when their nails usually get split.
When your dog runs and jumps all over during play, and if it has long nails, there is always a greater risk of nail split.
Always remember that long nails and rough play are a very bad combination. Never allow your dog to indulge in rough play when its nails are long and overgrown.
5. Long walks on rough surfaces
When your dog walks on rough surfaces, its nails are subjected to grinding slowly and the issue of overgrown nails usually does not occur.
This is your dog’s natural way of trimming its nails.
Hence if possible, take your dog on long walks on rough surfaces and its nails do not grow longer.
Patrick Hensel, Dr.med.vet, DACVD, Nail diseases, dvm360.
Clipping Your Dog’s Claws, vetmed.wsu.edu
By Ishita Chattopadhyay, Turmeric and curcumin: Biological actions and medicinal applications, current Science Association