What is a Nail Growing from the Pad?
Most dogs have nails that grow from their toes. But sometimes a nail can abnormally emerge directly from the pad on the bottom of the paw instead. This is known as an interdigital furunculosis or an interdigital cyst. It results when inflammation ruptures the tissue connecting the nail bed to the pad, allowing the nail to pierce through the pad. This distorted nail growth can be quite painful and merits veterinary attention.
Several factors may instigate the disruption between nail and pad that leads to this condition, including:
- Injury from trauma, cuts, burns, frostbite, or chemical irritants.
- Skin conditions like pododermatitis, allergies, or infections.
- Autoimmune or endocrine disorders.
- Tumors or growths disrupting normal anatomy.
- Ingrown nails from poor trimming or hereditary weakness.
Signs to Look For
A nail protruding from the pad is the hallmark symptom. Additionally, watch for:
- Swelling, redness, bleeding, or discharge around the nail.
- Lameness, licking, chewing, or biting at the paw.
- Pain when walking and reluctance to bear weight.
- Nail plate loosening or falling off, revealing the quick.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Seek veterinary assessment immediately at the first signs of an abnormal nail. After examining and potentially sedating the dog, the vet will:
- Evaluate and x-ray the foot to visualize internal structures.
- Collect a cell sample from the growth to test for cancer.
- Surgically remove the protruding nail.
- Flush the wound and pad to prevent infection.
- Prescribe antibiotics and pain medication.
The dog will likely need an e-collar and restricted activity during recovery.
While sometimes unavoidable, proper nail and paw care can help prevent this painful condition:
- Trim nails regularly to avoid ingrown portions.
- Only use nail clippers designed specifically for dogs.
- Smooth sharp edges with a nail file.
- Keep pads free of debris with frequent inspection.
- Discourage excessive paw licking or chewing.
- Treat any underlying skin, nail, or allergy issues promptly.
With vigilant foot care, most dogs can avoid this troubling issue.
A nail growing out of the pad creates misery for dogs. Understanding what prompts this abnormality, seeking prompt veterinary care, and emphasizing prevention through diligent nail maintenance allows dog owners to spare their loyal companions from the discomfort of distorted paw anatomy. Paying attention to your dog’s paw health promotes their comfort and mobility for all of life’s wonderful adventures together.