Bubba is one of those dogs who is a part of the family. Last Saturday morning, he had a lie-in, as he always does on Saturdays. He seems to know that the house is slow to get going, and he relishes the extra rest. He snoozes in his luxurious bed – raised off the ground, with lots of blankets – until he hears people up and about.
something was wrong with Bubba’s foreleg
Last Saturday, when he came through to join the family, Suzanne noticed that there was something wrong with him. He was holding up his left foreleg, as if to say “this hurts”. When she had a look, she could see that one of the nails was at an odd angle, with something sticking out from it. She tried some first aid, trimming off a piece of sinew-like fibre that was protruding, but she could see that there was still something very wrong, so she brought him along to my Saturday morning clinic.
He’s a big bouncy dog, so I had to sedate him to have a good look. I could then see what had happened: he had half-torn off his nail, so that it was still attached, but not seated properly into the toe. It was like a human nail that had been half-pulled out, but was still firmly attached at the base.
If Bubba’s nail was left, it would continue to cause him pain until it fell out naturally, and that could take several days. Action had to be taken.
I sprayed on some local anaesthetic, and used a pair of forceps to swiftly and firmly pull the nail off its attachment to the toe. It came away easily, and Bubba didn’t even stir from his sedative-induced sleep. The nail base was bleeding, and it looked red and raw. I applied a dressing to make sure that he’d be comfortable once he woke up from the sedation, and I sent him up wearing a big lampshade-like Elizabethan collar to ensure that he didn’t pull his bandages off.
bubba had his nails trimmed
While he was sedated, I clipped his other nails. One of the reasons why nails can splinter in this way is when they grow long, allowing them to catch easily in undergrowth or even just in normal play. Just as you can stave a finger by having it pushed back, so a dog can break a nail.
Bubba came back to have his dressing changed four days later, and all was well. The nail base still looks fresh and sore, so he needed another dressing, but when this one comes off in a week, that should be the end of his troubles.
If Bubba’s nails are kept trimmed, neat and short , this is less likely to happen again. Some dogs let their owners trim their nails, but Bubba’s a strong, active dog: one of our nurses has volunteered to do the honours when they grow long next time.