Do Dogs Nails Grow Back? Let’s find out
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Did you find a bloody hole in your dog's paw? Or maybe did your best friend catch his nail on a blanket and pull it half-way out? Maybe you're wondering, "Is this going to require surgery? Is he in pain? Do dogs nails grow back? "
All very valid questions once you realize your family pet somehow managed to pull their entire nail out of their body. Yeah, it's gross and yeah it sure as heck looks painful, but here's what you need to know.
Ready? Let's start
The Fast Answer
Whether or not a nail will re-grow if you think it's been completely removed depends on the severity of the injury. Basically, you're looking at one of two scenarios.
1- The nail was only partially ripped or pulled out, and the nail root may still be inside. In this case, yes, the nail will eventually re-grow (more on that in a moment).
2- The nail was completely pulled out meaning the root, and anything along with it is completely gone. In this case, no, the nail will not grow back.
Assessing Your Dog's Injury
Chances are you will not be able to discern either scenario above without closer examination. You're probably seeing a lot of blood or other tissue that can make it hard to see what's up. And of course, if you aren't a veterinarian, there's also that working against you.
The only way you're going to be sure that the nail is either completely gone or just torn is to take your dog to a vet but here are some indicators that can help you guess.
- You see part of your dog's nail on the ground. If you only see part of it and not anything that looks like a fleshy root, the rest of the nail may still be attached.
- You see a nail in your dog's paw. Obviously, if you can clear away any debris or blood and still see some nail there, it's probably going to re-grow.
- Excessive amounts of blood. If your dog doesn't stop bleeding for a while, that could be a sign that the damage is more severe and the nail is completely missing.
Treating Your Dog's Broken Nail
It's probably not wise to waste a lot of time being an amateur veterinarian and just take your dog in to be seen. Vets have the tools and knowledge to assess what's going on.
Here's what you can expect for treatment with a broken, torn, or missing nail on your dog.
- Unviable portions of the nail are removed: If your dog does have some nail left in their paw, a vet will most likely remove anything that looks like it could get infected or just isn't viable. That could also mean removing the rest of the nail. Ouch!
- Antibiotics: Your dog will then be administered an antibiotic to prevent infection. A vet may also wrap the paw to keep it protected.
- Cone of shame: Many dogs chew and paw at injuries on their body so a veterinarian will most like make your dog wear a cone so they do not disturb the injured area.
Regrowth Time Line
There are a lot of variables with healing and re-growth time for dog nails.
Age, health, dog breed, the severity of the injury, interference from the animal, and care plan are all factors.
Are all factors.
Assuming your dog is relatively young, healthy, and has a good plan of care from owner and vet, and your dog doesn't keep making the injury worse by chewing on it, nail regrowth can take up to 6 or 7 weeks.
You can help stop continuous bleeding by applying Styptic Powder at the end of your dog's nail.
If the nail was completely removed, however, it would not grow back. It can take a similar amount of time for the hole in your dog's paw to heal over.
Care and Prevention
Although it may not seem like it, a torn or missing nail can be very dangerous for your dog. Even after your dog's remaining nail heals, the exposed quick has the potential to get infected.
An exposed quick looks sort of like a dry, brown, shriveled up piece of flesh. Your dog's nail will eventually grow around it, but until it does, this piece of tissue exposes your dog to the sickness that, if left untreated, could result in more severe consequences including amputation of your dog's paw.
You can keep your dog's injured nail area clean using saline solution and peroxide. Keep in mind that cleaning can be uncomfortable and even painful for your dog so take proper precautions, so you don't get bitten.
A good strategy for reducing the discomfort and avoiding your dog turning on you is to soak their foot in a diluted solution of a peroxide or other disinfectant.
You can put water plus the disinfectant in a pan on the floor and then allow your dog to stand in it (unless of course, the dog is small enough to hold).
It is necessary to clean your dog's injury once per day. Keep it covered with gauss or similar material used for protecting wounds.
Broken, torn, or missing nails are not fun for owners or their dogs. Before you start working on fixing the situation, be sure you get an accurate assessment of what is going on, so you aren't giving your dog treatment it doesn't need.
Nails that have not fallen out completely will grow back over a couple of month time span. That interval can vary based on a variety of factors though.
Steadfast care and prevention are always important after your dog has been properly treated by a veterinarian. Infections can creep up out of nowhere and cause much more severe complications if left untreated.
Above all, make sure you take your dog to an experienced professional rather than trying to diagnose and fix the issue yourself. Here's a snapshot of what you need to do if your dog has a nail injury:
- Assess the injury: have a vet look at it
- Get treatment: have the vet properly treat your dog
- Prevent further damage: properly care for your dog until he/she is fully healed
If you have any questions or additional tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. 🙂