Your dog’s claws are unique structures, essential to protect his fingers while digging, running and maneuvering. Claws can undergo a variety of changes in both color and texture.
The number of diseases that occur with the exclusive participation of the nails and the nail bed is small, but It is common for nail involvement to be part of another underlying disease.
Thus, the underlying disease in these cases varies from infectious, immune, genetic, metabolic, nutritional, environmental, neoplastic to idiopathic.
1. Fungal infections that affect your dog’s claws
Fungal infections of the nails are also known as onychomycosis and can appear in the nail bed, on the nail itself or inside the folds of the claws. It is important to know that the signs of fungal infections include the fragility of the nails and constant licking of the affected legs.
To correctly diagnose and treat a fungal infection, your veterinarian should scrape the affected area to identify the fungus and will usually prescribe a topical antifungal product to treat the problem. The fungi that commonly cause these infections include dermatophytes, Candida spp., Malassezia spp., blastomycosis, geotrichosis or cryptococcosis.
2. Immune conditions that can affect your dog’s claws
Nail problems are often associated with an allergic reaction that affects large portions of the animal’s skin, with manifest itching and dryness. The allergen can be an element of the diet or an environmental toxin such as a pesticide or a cleaning product.
An allergy may disappear when allergen exposure is eliminated. Commonly, change your pet’s food or eliminate problematic products or substances; If not, talk to your veterinarian about what else you can do.
Other conditions of autoimmune origin
There is a whole spectrum of conditions that can occur with the involvement of your dog’s claws, including pemphigus complex, bullous pemphigoid, discoid lupus erythematosus, systemic lupus erythematosus, bullous epidermolysis, cold agglutinin disease, vasculitis or vitiligo.
3. Symmetric lupoid onychodystrophy
This is an idiopathic disease that generally affects young and middle-aged dogs and causes dry and brittle nails that swell at the base of the nail bed.. The occurrence of secondary bacterial infections is frequent. The disease can lead to the loss of the affected claws.
Other symptoms may include the appearance of crooked claws, painful legs and lameness. It is common to perform a biopsy to establish the diagnosis. Treatment often includes adding fatty acid supplements to the diet, as well as the use of antibiotics.
4. Tumors of the nail bed
Carcinoma of the nail bed can alter the tissue surrounding your dog’s claws, which contains nerves and veins. Lesions that cause tumors in the nail bed can cause lameness, bleeding and ulcerations.
The diagnosis contemplates the biopsy analysis of the nail bed tissue. Recommended treatment may include amputation of the affected fingers. There are also a series of carcinomas that can be affected by the involvement of your dog’s claws, including squamous cell carcinoma, squamous papilloma, melanoma, osteosarcoma and mast cell tumor, among others.
5. Metabolic diseases that can affect canine claws
There is a group of alterations of the endocrine system that, in addition to systemic alterations, can affect the tissue that surrounds canine claws. Among these diseases are hyperadrenocorticism, hypothyroidism or diabetes mellitus.
6. Recovery from your dog’s claw disorders
Recovery will depend on the condition that causes the condition. It is necessary to keep in mind that some conditions will need lifelong therapy to keep nail destruction at bay.
It is always important to maintain a diet of high quality and high nutrient content that allows the growth of a healthy nail. Vitamin, gelatin and biotin supplementation are often needed as a preventative for future recurrences.
In any case, it is important to consult with your veterinarian when observing changes in the claws or in the surrounding tissue.
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