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Dr. Z.
Dr. Z., Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 5970
Experience:  Over 25 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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Our 7 year old Black Lab lost a dew claw this summer. Another

Customer Question

Our 7 year old Black Lab lost a dew claw this summer. Another nail grew back but we did a round of antibiotics to make sure there was no infection. Now one of his hind nail is falling out and another one is already growing in. The pad is very red and swollen. Why is he loosing nails all of a sudden and is there something we can do to help ease the pain. He is limping and yells if I touch it. Thanks!
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Z. replied 10 months ago.

Dr. Z. :

Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and Rocky today. I'm a veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy to work with you.

Dr. Z. :

Did your vet do any testing of the previous nail or this one? When I say testing I am referring to looking at any of the surface cells under the microscope to verify if there was evidence of bacterial or yeast infection?

Customer:

Not that I know of. He does get ear infections pretty regularly, if that matters.

Dr. Z. :

Do his nails looks otherwise normal? Are they brittle, crooked or abnormally ridged?

Customer:

No, they look normal.

Dr. Z. :

Does he normally lick at his feet at all (other than now when the nail is bothering him?) Is there any drainage or redness on the skin between his toes.

Customer:

He licks at them sometimes but not on a regular basis. It is very red and swollen now but not normally.

Dr. Z. :

One more question. When he lost the nail this summer, did the involved toe experience the same redness and swelling?

Customer:

It was his dew claw this summer and yes, it was the same redness and swelling. A new nail grew back at the claw, too. With this one, the new nail is already through. It reminds me of a baby tooth coming out when the new tooth pushes it out. The "old" nail is really long because it is being pushed out. Does that make any sense at all? :)

Dr. Z. :

Yes, it makes sense. It wouldn't bother me quite so much if there wasn't the redness and swelling that accompanied the loss of the nail. It is encouraging however that the new nail that comes in is normal in appearance.

Dr. Z. :

There are multiple conditions that can affect the nails or the nail bed. If it hasn't been done yet, I would have your vet perform a skin cytology of the nail bed. This is a test where some of the surface cells are collected an evaluated under the microscope to rule out a bacterial or yeast infection.

Dr. Z. :

I would also consider taking a piece of the sloughed nail and performing a ringworm culture.

Dr. Z. :

Normally when there is swelling and inflammation that leads to loss of a nail, we have cancer on our list of rule outs, but to see it in two separate toes in 6 months would make that less likely.

Customer:

He has been rubbing his rear on the floor lately. Would that indicate ringworm?

Dr. Z. :



There is a condition called systemic lupoid onychodystrophy. This is a disorder that affects the nails of dogs and can cause the changes you describe. It often involves multiple toes and even as they regrow, they can be weakened and deformed. There are a few other conditions that can mimic this, but the signs of this disease are pretty specific. It can only be definitively diagnosed with a biopsy of the nail including nailbed - which involves a toe amputation. For this reason and since the treatment is fairly safe, many vets will start them up on a therapeutic trial and monitor their response to treatment as a confirmation of diagnosis.

Dr. Z. :



I would have your vet examine Rocky again to decide if this is a presumptive diagnosis, and if so, there are various medicines medications and supplements that may help, some of which are available only by prescription. These would include things like:



1) Higher doses of fish oil(omega 3 fatty acids)Aim for 180 mg EPA per 10 pounds of body weight.


2)Tetracycline and Niacinamide (or Doxycycline can be used interchangeably with the tetracycline , but tetracycline is cheaper, especially if used long term.)


3) Vit E - 400-800 IU /day.

Dr. Z. :



If not seeing an improvement in a few weeks, some vets will add a drug called Pentoxifylline. Also many of these dogs need pain meds as this can be a very painful condition.


Customer:

Can I wait until Monday to take him to the vet or do I need to go to an emergency vet tomorrow?

Dr. Z. :

No rubbing his ear on the floor would more likely indicate an ear infection. His problems could be related to allergies which can cause both ear infections and swollen toes.

Customer:

Not his ear, his rearend! haha

Dr. Z. :

Oh my, I am sorry. I must have read that too fast.

Customer:

That's okay, it made me laugh! :)

Customer:

Should I take him to emergency vet tomorrow or can I wait until Monday?

Dr. Z. :

No, if he is rubbing his rear end on the floor, it can be an indicator of anal gland issues or of itchy skin in general. Actually, not that different than if he was rubbing his ears on the floor. :)

Dr. Z. :

As far as if he needs to go to the ER, it depends on his level of discomfort.

Dr. Z. :

You could try warm water/epsom salt soaks of the affected foot to see if it would help.

Customer:

Good to know about ears and rears! I will soak it and see how it is tomorrow. Hopefully, it can wait until Monday. Thank you very much for the information.

Dr. Z. :

Epsom salts can help to relieve inflammation and may offer relief until he can see his regular vet.

Dr. Z. :

I would not offer any over the counter meds that you may have access to for pain as many are not safe or even effective in dogs.

Customer:

okay, thanks again.

Dr. Z. :

It is definitely suspicious of underlying skin disease to have 2 nails in 6 months, but it may be coincidence. If you can comfortably get him through the weekend, your vet can hopefully come up with a more long term plan.

Dr. Z. :

Good luck with him!

Dr. Z. :

Is there anything else I can answer for you tonight?

Customer:

No, thank you so much for the help.

Customer:

Our vet calls him "the happiest dog on earth" so I don't want him to hurt.

Customer:

I don't want him to hurt regardless.

Dr. Z. :

Most labs that I know are. God love them!

Dr. Z., Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 5970
Experience: Over 25 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
Dr. Z. and 4 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Z. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you kindly for the positive rating. It is truly appreciated.

Dr Z
Expert:  Dr. Z. replied 10 months ago.
Hello Carol,

Just wondering how Rocky is doing. How it the affected toe?

Please let me know if there are any further questions or concerns that I can address for you.

Dr Z

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