How to Keep Your Dog’s Feet Healthy: Can Dogs Get Ingrown Toenails?

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Home / Dog Health / How to Keep Your Dog’s Feet Healthy: Can Dogs Get Ingrown Toenails?

Just like humans, dogs can get ingrown toenails.

This can be a painful condition for your pet and can often lead to infection.

Here we will discuss how to keep your dog's feet healthy and what you can do if your dog develops an ingrown toenail.


How do ingrown toenails occur in dogs


Ingrown toenails can occur in dogs for a variety of reasons, the most common cause is when the dog's nails are not trimmed properly.

When long enough, they curl around and grow into the surrounding tissue, usually into their paw pads.

Apart from that, ingrown toenails can also be caused by trauma, such as stepping on something sharp, or by infection.


Also keep in mind that canine ingrown toenails are pretty uncommon - it's usually seen on abused or abandoned dogs, but not often on dogs with loving homes.


Signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail in a dog

An ingrown toenail can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for your dog. Some common signs and symptoms include:

     - Swelling and redness around the nail

    - Pain when the dog walks or stands

    - Difficulty walking or standing

    - Scratching at the foot or licking the paw obsessively

    - Discharge from the nail or pierced paw

    - Fever if infection is present



How do you treat an ingrown toenail in a dog?


If you think your dog has an ingrown toenail, there are a few things you can do:

Firstly, if it's not too serious, you could treat it yourself with the steps below, in the home remedy section.

However, if you see your dog's paw is already swollen or inflamed, it's probably a better idea to take them to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.


The veterinarian will likely perform a physical examination and may order some tests, such as blood work or cultures, to determine if there is an infection.


Treatment for an ingrown toenail can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but may include trimming the nail back to the healthy tissue.

In rare cases when the nails get infected from fungal infections, the vet will also have to cut back to the health tissues (which can be quite far back).

If your dog's toenails are infected, antibiotics can also be given to prevent any other body infection.

Lastly, surgery is the last, final option if the nail has become severely infected or is causing other health problems.


Home remedies for a dog's ingrown toenail in a dog


Note: this is only for mild cases, and if your dog is properly trained and lets you do the steps below.

If your dog is uncooperative, it's probably better to bring them to the vet to have the ingrown toenail professionally removed.


  1. Soak the foot in warm water with Epsom salts for 15 minutes a day.
  2. Apply an antibiotic ointment to the affected area.
  3. Trim the nail back to the healthy tissue using either the nail trimmer, or a nail grinder for pets.
  4. If it's infected or has an open wound, put a bandage over the nail and keep it clean and dry.


It will also help you greatly if you know how to do basic grooming for your dog.

If your dog's ingrown toenail does not improve after a few days of treatment, take them to see a veterinarian. Serious cases may require surgery.


When to see a vet for an ingrown toenail in a dog


Generally, if the ingrown toenail has started already causing swelling in their paw pads, it might be time to visit the vet.

They can numb your dog's paw area and proceed to clip their nails.

Leaving the nail to grow can infect not just the paw pad but also enter into the bloodstream, turning a small problem into a life-threatening one.

So if there's any doubt, better safe than sorry and have your pup checked out by their vet!



How can you prevent your dog from getting ingrown toenails?


There are a few things you can do to help prevent your dog from getting ingrown toenails.

One important thing is to make sure you trim their nails regularly - not too short, but not so long that they grow into the surrounding tissue.

If your dog does develop an ingrown toenail, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

If possible, walk your dog more often on harder surfaces, like concrete or pavement. This allows your dog's nails to naturally wear down, and will require less nail cutting or grinding.

Plus, it's also great exercise for you!


There are several other things you can do to help prevent your dog from developing an ingrown toenail:

  • Trimming the nails regularly, especially if they are curved or growing into the surrounding tissue
  • Not letting the nails grow too long, either by regularly walking them, or trimming.
  • Cleaning and drying the feet thoroughly after baths or walks. This can help prevent fungal infections on their toenails.



about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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