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Can dogs shed their nails?

Can dogs shed their nails?

How healthy is your dog? Are its nails healthy? Healthy dog nails are essential in cushioning your family members against various health issues. These nails should extend long enough to be seen.

Yet, you must keep them short enough not to scratch your furniture and other items in the house. Understanding whether your dog’s nails are healthy could help you discern if its nail shedding is normal or not. Here, the biggest question is whether dogs can shed their nails.

Can Dogs Shed Their Nails?

Naturally, dogs shed nails from time to time. However, it would be best to be wary whenever this shedding becomes a trend. It could be a sign of a severe health condition. In such instances, you could witness bleeding and constant shedding. These toes are susceptible to breaking, snagging, tearing, and even fracturing. Any of these aspects could result in shedding.

Once you notice blood on the dog’s paw, it would be best to examine it. Check the area between their toes and webbing. Foreign objects, cuts, and foxtails could be in this region. In this instance, all you’ll need to do is remove them. This will help address any discomfort the dog might be suffering.

On the other hand, various aspects could force dogs to shed their nails. Some of these elements will include the following.

Overgrown nails

Overgrown nails will often fall off, as they often snag, tear off, and break from time to time. These nails become a significant problem when the dog is running on a hard surface. Getting tangled in clothing could also cause such breakage. Having overgrown nails is the only natural factor that causes nail shedding.

Poor nutrition

Insufficient minerals and nutrients will often weaken various body parts, including the nails. Remember, nails are a product of keratin, a complex protein. Insufficient protein can result in such breakage and shedding. Experts would suggest adding vitamins, protein, and mineral supplements to the dog’s diet.

Hormonal changes or birth disorders

The growth of nails depends on specific hormones in the dog. Any overproduction of these hormones means that the nails will overgrow, making them more susceptible to shedding. At the same time, this could be a defect the dog was born with.


This condition is triggered by an allergy, and it highlights an abnormal mass of tissue. This mass comes about when the cells divide more than they naturally should, resulting in overgrown nails. In turn, nail shedding becomes inevitable.

Medical Conditions

Various medical conditions can initiate nail shedding. One such condition would be brittle nails, which generally weaken the nails. The dog could also experience vasculitis, which inflames the nails. At the same time, injuries could contribute to this nail shedding.

Signs That The Cause Of Nail Shedding Is Unnatural

There is only one natural cause of nail shedding: overgrown nails. If the cause of nail shedding is different, you can notice through the signs the dog exhibits. Some of these signs will include the following.

Excessive limping

Limping is a sign of extreme pain. This limping might show that the dog lost its nails painfully, most likely in a fight or a knock.

Unusual bleeding

Rapid loss of nails will always cause bleeding among most breeds. This bleeding indicates that the nail shedding is thanks to an infection, injury, or an allergy.

Swollen paws

A swollen paw shows the chances of inflammation, often triggered by vasculitis.

Excessive licking

Most dogs will lick their paws to help ease their pain. Whenever you see excessive licking, it would be best to check its nails’ health.

Why Did My Dog’s Nails Fall Off?

Various reasons suffice when explaining why your dog’s nails are falling off. Yet, the most outstanding reason is overgrown nails. This overgrowth often makes the nails relatively weaker and susceptible to tears and breakage. As the nails hit a hard surface, they become more brittle, breaking much sooner.

Further, some disorders could result in the nails falling off. Here are a few insights into the disorders that could hasten nail shedding.

Nail Trauma

Nail trauma is a common problem among dogs, thanks to how playful they are. Their playfulness will often expose them to various dangers, including fractures and breakages. When this happens, your dog will spend a significant amount of time licking the area to help ease the pain.

Bacterial infections

Dogs chew their nails from time to time. Sometimes, this movement exposes their nails to bacteria. These bacteria will eat up the nail, making it weak enough to initiate shedding.

Ingrown nails

Overgrown nails are a danger for dogs. Letting these nails overgrow implies that they are likely to grow inwards, curling back and digging deeper into the claws. Notably, this trend causes considerable discomfort to the paw. The dog could also become lame. Unless you embrace better nail care, nail shedding will be inevitable with this condition.

Lupoid Onychodystrophy

This condition makes nails much weaker. Its symptoms include brittle nails and thickened nails. Misshapen nails and nail loss will also be inevitable in the case of this immune-mediated disorder.

Fungal infection

Fungal infection is one of the most prevalent causes of nail shedding. The fungus will make the keratin in the nail weaker, making the nails much more fragile with time. One of the biggest concerns would be the roundworm, a fungus that crusts nails and all surrounding tissues. This crusting results in shedding. Its effect is enormous.

Why Nail Care Is Important

Excellent nail care will help avert constant nail shedding. It also helps improve the comfort of your pet when walking, moving, or running. Always ensure that the nails do not extend beyond the paw, as any extension shows that they have overgrown.

Notably, dog nails come with a part referred to as quick. This nail quick is home to various nerves, facilitating efficient blood supply. Ensure that you do not hit or hurt it, as it could be too painful to bear. Regular trimming ensures that the quick does not grow with the nail.

When Should You Trim Nails?

We have multiple tell-tale signs that you need to trim the nails of your dog. Some of these will include the following.

When the dog starts to tip-toe

Tip-toeing means that the dog will walk with its paws a little elevated. You could also witness the nails dragging on the floor. Once it gets to this, trim those nails.

Nails curling

Do not wait until the nails start to curl over the paw. Nail curling causes not only discomfort but also initiates nail shedding.


Limping is yet another sign of discomfort. It shows that the nails are relatively longer on one leg.

Clicks on the floor

Every time your pet walks across the floor, listen to the sound produced. Any clicks indicate that the nails are relatively long.


Once the nails start scratching you or your fabric, take it as a reminder to trim them.

Too much paw licking

A dog will lick its paws whenever it feels uncomfortable or in pain. Once you notice this change, it would be best to try and keep them a little shorter.

What to Do If My Dog’s Nails Fall Off

Various things could cause the nails of your dog to fall off. Yet, in most cases, there is nothing for you to worry about. Occasional nail breaking is not alarming. An issue can only arise if this nail shedding becomes a trend or you witness bleeding in the dog’s paws. Suppose this happens; it would help if you took it to the vet immediately.

A vet will help examine and diagnose the issue. This medical professional will provide you with the right solution, whether it is a fungal infection, trauma, or bacterial infection. This vet can also consider surgical procedures whenever necessary. The idea is to alleviate pain and avoid severe repercussions in the long run.

You could also consider first aid. This move will suffice if the issue at hand is barely significant. The following steps will help in this process.

  • Take the time to restrain your dog, ensuring that it does not move away from your grip. You could also consider having someone hold it as you tend to the nails.
  • If your dog is injured, ensure that you wrap its foot in a towel or gauze. At the same time, apply a little pressure on this part, minimizing bleeding.
  • Examine and confirm the damaged part of the nail. Mostly, this damaged part will be the cause of the pain suffered. Carefully remove this part and clean it. However, if the process becomes unbearably painful for the dog, it would help sedate it or numb the part.
  • Next, apply antibiotic treatment to the affected area. This ointment helps keep bacterial infection at bay. It also ensures that there is minimal bleeding after this. Some experts would recommend an injectable or oral antibiotic, depending on the age of your dog.
  • Manage the pain. Pain medication will ensure that your dog remains a little more comfortable over the next few days.

Symptoms Of Broken Dog Nails

Various signs will show that your dog has broken nails. These symptoms entail the following.

  • Curved or misshapen nails
  • Difficulty walking or moving around
  • Self-isolation or even aggressiveness
  • Unusual nail splitting
  • The paws become too sensitive
  • Excessive licking and biting of the nails
  • Redness or too much swelling of the paws
  • Crusting around the nails and the surrounding tissues
  • Pus and blood in the nails
  • Ingrown nails

How Often Do Dogs Lose Nails?

There is no one-dimensional answer to how often a dog can lose its nails. That is because the loss of nails will often depend on various things: nail care, hygiene, the dog’s aggressiveness, and the dog’s playfulness.

A playful dog is more susceptible to injuries. Thanks to playing around, its nails could break or fracture, causing them to fall off. If the playfulness continues for a long time, you can expect the dog to keep losing its nails.

An aggressive dog will get into multiple fights with other dogs or attackers. Such fights could result in injuries, including nail injuries. At the same time, hunting with your dog exposes it to various injuries. That means you must examine its paws with care every time you get home.

Excellent hygiene levels will translate to better nail health. Usually, poor hygiene will expose the dog to various bacterial and fungal infections. These infections will make the nails weaker, including causing brittle nail conditions. For this reason, invest in the proper environmental care at all times.

How you take care of your dog’s nails matters a lot. Trimming and cleaning these nails from time to time will ensure that they remain healthy. It will also be a great way to avoid any significant health conditions in the long run.