Dog Broken Nail at the Vet Cost

Written by: Staff

The tiniest tear on your dog’s nail can be excruciatingly painful for your pup, bringing even the bravest dog to its knees.

Any dog, regardless of the breed, will almost always hold up a foot, limp around and/or whine in discomfort when a torn nail is present.

IMG_0641 by JSF539, on Flickr
IMG_0641” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by JSF539

How much does it cost to have a vet take care of a broken dog nail?

If you were to bring in your dog to the vet due to a broken/infected/split/cracked nail, the costs will often be in the $80 to $150 range at your local vet and this would include the vet visit fee, the antibiotics required to prevent the infection and the bandaging process.  If you were to take your dog to an emergency vet during after hours, the cost range could be double or even triple this, depending on the geographical location and vet you choose.

In extreme cases, albeit rare, the toe may need to be removed if a large portion of the nail needs to be removed.  If this were the case, the costs could soar to $300 to $550+ due to the anesthesia required for the surgical procedure to remove a portion or all of the toe in question.

While it may be tempting to help resolve the issue at home, it is highly advisable you bring your dog into the vet if there’s excessive bleeding, swelling in the toe, signs of pain and/or consistently licking or biting the area.  Failing to do so can lead to an infection, especially if the tissue beneath the nail is exposed.

Dr. Gary on, for instance, said in most cases, if the toenail is cracked, then the broken part can be removed and the dog will simply be placed on pain medication; however, if the toe needs to be removed, then the costs could run anywhere from $200 to $400 depending on where it’s done.

The treatment

At the vet, your veterinarian will first apply an antibiotic ointment or a power to the exposed nail bed, followed by wrapping the foot with a bandage to prevent any contamination in the future and minimize the bleeding.  Depending on the break, an antibiotic may be recommended as well to avoid an infection.  Even after this treatment, the vet will want you to come back in the next week to closely monitor the break and remove the bandage to ensure it’s healing according to plan.  If all goes according to plan, the swelling and the pain should subside within two to three days, and the nail will grow back within the next several weeks.

How do the nails break?

A dog’s nail can break in a variety of ways, including getting it snagged on the carpet, inflammation, jumping off of a higher platform such as a porch, or in some cases, the nails of older pets could become so brittle that they break with ease.  Longer nails, in most cases, will break much easier than nails that are consistently trimmed.

What can I do if my dog’s nail is broken?

Restrain your dog – If your dog is suddenly yelping in pain and being to limp while holding their paw up, then there’s a good chance your dog, indeed, has a broken nail.  The first course of action is simply by restraining your dog while you tend to the nail.  This can include having someone hold the dog down while you tend to the nail or placing a muzzle on to help avoid any injuries

Control the bleeding – Wrap the nail in question with either a gauze or a towel while applying pressure to control the bleeding.  If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 to 15 minutes, then you will want to apply either a styptic pencil or cauterizing powder, all of which can be found at a local pet supply store, to help the issue at hand.  If you don’t have these products inside the home, you can try covering the nail with flour or try sticking the nail inside a bar of soap.

Remove the damaged part of the nail – If you notice a loosely attached part of the nail, silver in color, and you feel it can be trimmed easily at home, then you can do so with a pair of clippers.  However, if you do not feel comfortable with the situation, then it’s best to take your dog to the local veterinary hospital.

How to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding

To avoid broken nails, it’s always best to keep your dog’s nails trimmed as short nails, as mentioned, are much less likely to become snagged.  Whether you trim it at home or hire a groomer, the goal is to keep these nails as short as possible.  If you do feel uncomfortable, you can either ask a veterinarian to demonstrate the nail trimming process or again, hire a professional dog groomer to assist with the process.

Tips to know

If your dog loses its nail again and again, it could be due to underlying conditions, according to Embrace Pet Insurance.  This could include symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy, which is an inflammatory condition that involves the nail bed or vasculitis, which is another type of inflammation inside the small blood vessels, which can lead to a poor blood supply.

Call your vet immediately as they should be able to provide guidance over the phone.  In some cases, they may ask you to clean it and wrap it to monitor the progress for the next 24 hours.  If it doesn’t improve during this timeframe, then will more than likely ask you to come in for an exam.

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