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Brittle Nails in Dogs

Brittle nails might be the result of long, untrimmed nails or due to certain underlying medical disorders affecting your canine friend. Continue reading to know what causes brittle nails, and how they can be treated.
DogAppy Staff
One of the commonly faced nail problems in pet dogs is the problem of dry and brittle nails. You will observe the nails crumbling easily while trimming or sloughing during grooming. While breaking nails can be attributed to your dog's active lifestyle which involves digging holes and scratching posts, brittle nails is usually a symptom of certain nail or nail bed disorders caused by infection, diseases, or trauma to the nails.
Brittle Nails Cause
Physical Trauma or Injury
Injuries to the nails can be painful for the dogs, especially ones with long nails. Untrimmed nails in dogs can split or break during intense exercise or activity and even when the dog is unaccustomed to walking on a hard surface. Regular nail trimming, using specially designed nail trimmers, is important to your dog's health and well-being.
Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy
This is an immune mediated disease which causes dry and brittle nails in dogs. The disease results in an overactive immune system which affects the nail and nail beds. This in turn leads to splitting and breaking of nails which never really heal. So eventually you might observe the loss of claws from all the paws. Other symptoms of Lupoid Onychodystrophy include twisted claws, painful paws, secondary infection, and lameness. For diagnosing the disease, the biopsy of a claw needs to be done. Once a firm diagnosis is reached by the veterinarian, treatment would include use of essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements such as fish oil, vitamin A treatment, and antibiotic treatment with tetracycline and niacinamide. In certain cases, the removal of claws might be necessary in order to alleviate the pain. The dog breeds most susceptible to this disease are rottweilers and greyhounds.
Yeast Infection in Dogs
Canine yeast infection is caused by Candida albicans yeast which live in your pet's body and consume sugar and fats in order to thrive and grow. They affect the immune system, mouth, nose, ears, and gastrointestinal, and genital tracts of the dogs, causing health problems such as allergies, vaginal and bladder infection, and skin disorders. While a healthy dog with an immune system which is intact is able to fight off the infection, a dog with a weak immune system can suffer from a host of health problems. Apart from brittle and dry nails, yeast infections can also cause allergies, constipation, ear infections, itching, skin rashes, and many other health problems.
Nail Bed Tumors in Dogs
Nail bed tumors in dogs affect the nail matrix, the nail beds that contains nerves, blood vessels, and the melanin-producing cells. Apart from brittle nails, these tumors cause tumor-like growth on the nail bed, limping, bleeding, and ulcerations. Since they are easily confused with bone inflammation or nail infections, the diagnostic procedures for this condition include cytology and tissue biopsy. The treatment for this cancerous growth is the amputation of the digits in order to prevent the re-occurrence of the tumor.
Fungal Infection
Onychomycosis is the term used to denote a fungal infection in the claw folds or around the nail bed. This infection is characterized by the dog constantly licking its paws, brittle nails, and swelling in the feet. To diagnose a fungal infection, a skin scraping may be needed. The possible causes of fungal infections could be certain medication to suppress her immune system. Antifungal medication is prescribed for treating the condition.
The other symptoms of nail infections or diseases affecting the nails include licking of the paws, lameness, pain in the feet, swelling and inflammation of the surrounding tissues, and abnormal nail color. This condition will perhaps be apparent when you notice your dog limping.
In addition to these causes, deficiency of essential vitamins and other such nutritional deficiencies might lead to chipping and cracking of the nails. Adding zinc supplements to the diet and the presence of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can resolve this issue. The effectiveness of brittle nails treatment is based on the underlying cause of the problem. While fungal and bacterial infections can be remedied by topical treatments or ointments which are administered to the affected area, in some cases surgical removal of the nail plate might be necessary. The best way to prevent the problem is to keep the dog's nails groomed well. Also avoid clipping your dog's toenails too close to the nail bed. These nicks might cause bleeding and infection in the dog's paws. For more information on treatment of the other nail disorders, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.