Is your dog showing odd behaviors, such as excessively licking their paws or chewing their nails? This could indicate a nail infection. This is a common occurrence depending on the breed and activities of your dog. Regardless, recognizing the signs of an infection is crucial in ensuring they get the proper care and relief they need. 

What signs and symptoms should you look out for? Nail infections can be caused by various reasons, and it’s a must for owners like you to treat the infection promptly and appropriately or bring your pet to the vet if it’s not healing properly. 

For the most part, managing your dog’s nail health involves routine grooming and care. Still, nail infections can occur and even worsen even with the best preventive measures. Read on to learn the proper steps in dealing with dog nail infections in dogs. 

Dog Nail Anatomy

A dog’s nail consists of an outer keratinized shell called the unguis which protects the inner quick containing blood vessels and nerves, as noted by Dr. Jerry Klein, CVO of the American Kennel Club (AKC). It’s the part that bleeds if a nail is cut too short. 

The nail grows from the nail bed, located at the base of the nail, under the skin. This structure is crucial for the health and strength of the nail. 

The junction between these parts is vulnerable to cracks and trauma, so painful infection could occur once bacteria enter through these openings. 

According to Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, CCRP; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM of the VCA Animal Hospitals, keeping nails trimmed prevents cracks that allow infection-causing microbes to enter. 

Awareness of nail anatomy helps owners understand how to properly trim nails above the quick and keep the nails smooth to prevent cracks that can lead to painful infections. Regular nail care and prompt treatment of any signs of infection are key to keeping a dog.

Common Symptoms of Nail Infections in Dogs

There are telltale signs that your dog has a nail infection. The list below shows the common symptoms to pay attention to: 

  • Odor
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration of the nails
  • Limping or favoring one paw
  • Yellowish or pus-like discharge

Causes of Nail Infection in Dogs

Nail infections in dogs can happen due to several causes. Below are some common reasons for infections on your dog’s nails. 

Ingrown Nails

Ingrown nails occur when your dog’s talons grow too long and start to curve into the paw pads. This eventually leads to pain and infection. You can prevent this from happening by taking time in trimming your dog’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks or whenever it’s necessary. Ideally, if you hear clicking sounds every time your dog walks, it’s time to give their nails a trim. 

Trauma or Injury

As noted by the telehealth practitioner on Vetster, Dr. Jo Myers DVM, healthy dog nails of proper lenght dont break — that is unless active dogs run and play hard that they become susceptible to trauma. They can end up breaking or chipping their nails, which, if not treated immediately, could create an entry point for infections.

Bacterial or Fungal Exposure

Exposure to certain bacterial or fungal organisms can result in nail infections, too. If your dog has cuts or an ingrown nail, nail-infection-causing pathogens can enter through and inflame the area. Commonly, fungal infections are caused by Malassezia or ringworms at times.

Lupoid Onychodystrophy

Lupoid onychodystrophy is a non-contagious, immune-mediated condition that can cause a dog’s nails to be brittle, inflamed, and prone to infections. In most cases, this could happen if your dog constantly licks their paws. Seeking a vet to treat this is necessary.


If your pooch suffers from allergies, these can lead to itching and excessive paw licking, which may progress to nail infections. Identify the source of your dog’s allergies and consult with your pet allergist to learn how to manage your dog’s case and prevent secondary infections.

Underlying Health Conditions

Certain underlying health conditions can predispose your dog to infections, as stated by Dr. Brian Collins, DVM. These include hormonal imbalances, like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. These health disorders can lead to nail problems, where the area becomes brittle, cracked, or misshapen, making them more susceptible to infections. 

Types of Dog Nail Infections 

Here are some common types of dog nail infections:

  • Bacterial infections: Bacteria like Staphylococcus can enter through cracks or trauma and quickly cause nail bed infections. This leads to swelling, redness, pain, and pus.
  • Yeast infections: Yeast such as Malassezia can infect nails, especially in dogs with allergies or damp paws. Signs include nail discoloration, thickening, and brittle/crumbling nails.
  • Fungal infections: Dermatophyte fungi found in soil can infect nails and cause crusting lesions, nail loss, or thickened nails. This is said to be rare, according to the study made by the Small Animal Dermatology.
  • Paronychia: Inflammation of the nail fold and skin around the nail caused by bacterial or yeast infections. The skin becomes red, swollen, and painful.
  • Onychomycosis: A type of fungal infection of the nail bed that causes nail discoloration, thickening, and crumbling. 
  • Onychogryphosis: Onychogryphosis is an abnormal thickening and lengthening of the nail can become painful if it causes the nail to dig into the paw pad.

Proper Treatment of a Nail Infection in Dogs

When your dog has a nail infection, it’s essential to address it promptly to alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications. Here’s how you can manage a nail infection in dogs at home with the guidance of a licensed vet:

  • Identify the signs: Recognize the signs of a nail infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. If you suspect your dog has it, they are likely infected in the area. Consulting with your vet would be necessary so they can prescribe the right medication.
  • Medication: Your vet may prescribe oral or topical medications, including antibiotics or antifungals. Ensure you complete the full course of medication even if the symptoms appear to improve.
  • Advanced medical treatment: If the infection is severe, surgical interventions are necessary. This may include removal of the infected nail and surrounding tissues or partial or full amputation of the affected toe.
  • Cleaning: Regularly clean the affected area with an antiseptic solution, such as Chlorhexidine as suggested by Brittany Kleszynski, DVM of PetMD, to prevent bacteria and aid healing. 

Caution: Never use hydrogen peroxide in cleaning the infected nails. This only kills healthy tissues and slows down the healing process. 

  • Pain management: If your dog is in pain, your vet might administer pain medications to ease their discomfort during recovery.
  • Preventive care: Keep your dog’s nails trimmed to prevent future injuries. Make sure you also monitor for any signs of recurring infection and provide a clean and dry environment for your dog to rest in.

Ways to Prevent a Nail Infection in Dogs

Proper nail care is vital in preventing nail infections in your beloved pets. Here are some steps you can take to keep your dog’s nails healthy:

  • Regular nail trimming: Keep your dog’s nails trimmed to a comfortable length. Nails that are too long can touch the ground, causing discomfort, affected posture, and an increased risk of getting infected.
  • Clean your dog’s paws: After outdoor walks or plays, rinse your dog’s paws to remove any debris they might have picked up outside.
  • Invest in high-quality dog food: Ensure your dog receives proper nutrients, which can be beneficial for maintaining nail integrity.
  • Ready the right grooming tools: Use the right tools, such as a sharp and clean nail trimmer or grinder suitable for your dog’s size. If your dog has black nails, you have to consider using a light to illuminate it and clearly see the quick.
  • Routinely desensitize your dog’s feet: Regularly handle your dog’s feet to make them comfortable with the touch, making the grooming and trimming experience less stressful.
  • Be cautious of the quick: Be cautious not to clip the quick; this is a sensitive part of the nail that can bleed and become a gateway for infections if cut.

When to Visit a Vet

  • Discoloration of the nails: Any unusual color changes in your dog’s nails may suggest an underlying issue. Nails that appear yellow, green, or brown could be infected.
  • Swelling or redness: Any signs of swelling or redness around the nail or paw area should prompt a visit to the vet. This could indicate an infection or other painful conditions.
  • Pain or limping: If your dog seems to be in pain while walking, favoring one paw, or actively limping, it could be due to an infection in the nail bed.
  • Excessive licking or chewing: Dogs often lick their wounds. Excessive licking or chewing at their nails or paws might be your dog’s way of dealing with discomfort from an infection.
  • Unpleasant odor or discharge: A foul smell or pus-like discharge around the nail area is a telltale sign of infection.

When to Visit a Groomer

  • Nail length: Visit a groomer when your dog’s nails are long enough to touch the ground. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and could lead to posture problems.
  • Difficulty walking: If you notice your dog having trouble walking or they are limping, it might be due to overgrown or injured nails.
  • Discoloration: Keep an eye out for changes in nail color, which can indicate a problem. A groomer can help identify if it’s a natural variation or requires a vet’s attention.
  • Excessive licking: Dogs often lick their paws if they are in discomfort. If your dog focuses on their nails, it might be time for a professional trim.
  • Irregular shaping: If you’re unsure about dealing with irregularly shaped or curled nails, a groomer can skillfully handle the trimming and maintain your dog’s nail health.

The Top Mobile Pet Grooming Service in Singapore: Likeable Pets

When you think about keeping your dog healthy and pampered, consider Likeable Pets, Singapore’s go-to mobile pet grooming service. We know how important it is to maintain your dog’s nails, which is crucial in preventing nail infections.

Features of Likeable Pets:

  • At-home grooming: Enjoy the convenience of professional dog grooming at your doorstep.
  • Expert groomers: A team of seasoned groomers will care for your dog’s nails, ensuring they’re trimmed to the perfect length, reducing the risk of infections.
  • Comprehensive service: We offer nails and full grooming services to keep your dog in top shape.

By choosing Likeable Pets, you ensure your dog receives the best grooming experience without leaving the comfort of your home. This service focuses on aesthetics and the well-being of your canine’s paws and nails.

Take a look at what our customers say!

Likeable Pet Customer Review - Little Joy Studio

Indeed, booking with us is easy! We’re only one message away and on our way to giving your dog the hygiene maintenance they need. 

Likeable Pet Customer Review- Jenny

Likeable Pets is also a champion in providing comfy grooming sessions. Your dog will feel at ease in the hands of our experts. 

Likeable Pet Customer Review - Aurelie

Our customers have been with us for a long time, trusting our professional groomers to keep their dogs clean and well-groomed!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will a Dog’s Nail Heal on Its Own?

Most minor nail injuries to a dog’s nail typically heal independently so long as you provide proper home care. For example, the area will heal over time if small cracks or splits in the nail. That is, if the quick hasn’t been reached, no further trauma is applied. 

However, more severe nail infections in dogs, like severe nail breaks or splits, paronychia, and fungal infections, require veterinary attention for proper healing. 

2. How Do You Treat Claw Disease in Dogs?

Depending on how minor or severe it is, treating claw disease or nail bed infection in dogs involves a combination of veterinary care and home management. The treatment plan usually depends on the cause and severity of the disease. 

A vet may perform a physical examination and, sometimes, tests like a biopsy, culture, or blood work to determine if the issue is due to bacteria, fungi, or underlying conditions. They will then prescribe the appropriate medication.

Apart from medication, you can help your dog’s paw heal by keeping it clean and dry, preventing your dog from licking or biting the infected paw. You may use an Elizabethan collar, and ensure the nail and surrounding area are not further injured. 

You should also provide a healthy diet and supplements, as your vet recommends, as these can boost your dog’s immune system and promote healing.

Final Word

When managing dog nail infections, prompt attention to your pet’s paws can lead to a quicker recovery and a happier pet. Remember, initial signs such as your dog excessively licking its paws or showing signs of pain should not be ignored. 

Integrating paw care into your regular grooming routine can make a difference in maintaining nail health. Monitoring for signs of distress and providing a clean environment will go a long way. Trimming nails is also an important routine to take. And if you’re looking for the best expert in grooming pets, Likeable Pets is the way to go.
Feel free to call us on WhatsApp at 86852360 to book a slot. Give your dog the professional grooming care they deserve with Likeable Pets!