How to Prevent One of the Most COMMON Dog Emergencies


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When you have dogs, things happen. Common problems that emergency room veterinarians see every day include vomiting, diarrhea, lacerations and trauma (e.g. from being hit by a car). Another very common emergency is torn nails.

Dog's nails continue to grow and trimming them can be a challenge for some dog owners. This is not uncommon. As the nails get longer they can get caught on the rug, in an afghan or something else. (They can even turn back and start growing into the paw!) When the nail is caught it actually tears away from the skin. It commonly bleeds and is very painful.

When a nail tears, we trim back the nail, bandage it for a day to control the bleeding and the nail will eventually grow back.

The prevention for torn nails is very simple. Keep your dog's nails trimmed.

You can do this with a standard type nail trimmer or a nail grinder. Both can work fine. The key is making the experience positive for your dog. I've tested some different nail trimmers and grinders. I recently found one nail grinder called Gentle Paws that is very good at a reasonable price. This grinder works up to 5 times faster than other grinders, so it makes short work of nail grooming. It has a professional grade motor and 2 operating speeds for better control. And the safety guard holds your pet's nail in place to prevent accidental hair winding while it catches the debris you file away (so there's no mess to clean up).

If you haven't trimmed your dog's nails before, go slowly. Start by showing your dog the nail trimmer, petting him with it and touching his feet (without trimming his nails). Give tons of positive reinforcement (praise or a treat) for good behavior.

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.