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Dr. Margo
Dr. Margo, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 504
Experience:  12yrs as veterinarian
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My dogs nails keep splitting exposing the quick. What could be causing this

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My vet says they have stopped doing quick nails on dogs because they are finding it has compromised the nails. She has had maybe 3 quick nails in her 10 years. I noticed this after the last quick nail. I do not understand how it compromises the nail. She has split 2 nails over the past 2 weeks, exposing the quick and bleeding. Her quicks are close to the tip of her nails and she has never been good about getting her nails cut. I use a dremel on them and do the best I can. I am very concerned that her nails are so brittle and have ridges in them where they tend to break or split. More so under the nail and on the side. I asked my vet about SLO, but she does not think that is the problem. What could be causing this and is there anything I can do to strengthen the nails? I have started to mix plain geletin with her food to see if that helps.



It sounds as if you are doing all of the proper food supplementations that you can at this time. SLO will take at least 3 to 4 months to show response to OFA therapy.


Corticosteroids and antibiotics are also indicated in treating this condition if the OFA therapy does not work.


What you could try at home is to soak the nails in a chlorhexaderm or betadine solution daily. If there is a bacterial or fungal component to this disease process daily treatment may be able to help.


It is true that if they cut back to far into the "quick" they can disturb the germal tissue that gives rise to new nail tissue. But I generally do not cut back that far when removing a split or cracked nail. I remove enough nail so as to prevent further cracking or movement of the broken pieces and then bandage the foot for a day or two to prevent bleeding.


You can get chlorhexaderm and betadine at your local pharmacy. Give that a try, it will not hurt anything. Just rinse the pads of the feet after each treatment and dry them well. You should let them soak for at least five minutes.


If there is anything else I can answer please let me know.


Dr. M

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
My vet does not think it is SLO. Only symptoms are splitting nails, no deformaties, nails have not fallen out just splitting. Do you think it could be from the quick nails or something else? She had allergies for over a year in between her pads. Has been on allergie free diet, however for over 8 months have intraduced all except wheat, soy and corn and that all seems fine. She also has developed UTI's, 2 in last year. She has been on omega 3 & 6 for over a year because of the allergies. Have just started to increase dose. Don't want to put her on all the medication for SLO if this is not the problem, also do not want to put her through a biopsy. My vet did suggest that if she splits another nail, should put her out and clip part of nail and send out for culture to see if underlying infection as well as lab work. I am just wondering if there is anything else that could be causing this.



I cannot think of something else causing this that you haven't already addressed. The best test right now with the least stress on your dog would be culturing a nail if she splits another one.


A fungal/mycobacterium infection could cause these ongoing symptoms and that is why I would recommend soaking in an antifungal such as the betadine and to a lesser extent chlorhexaderm.


I have been able to to do a punch biopsy of a nail bed and did not remove the whole claw and still get a definitive diagnosis for SLO on pathology. But sometimes it does require removing the whole claw. So maybe this is why your veterinarian is holding it out as a last resort as far as a diagnosis goes.


There is a spray called Malaseb that has an antifungal/antibacterial action that you could spray on the feet.



Do you think you could do the soaks?


Dr. M



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
She would not let me physically soak her feet. I could wet a pad and hold on her nails, that is the best she would allow. She will see the vet again with in the next 3 weeks, sooner if she splits another nail. I am hoping it is some kind of infection that can be treated, don't want to think it could be SLO, don't understand how that could just show up after 10 years. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX given me good information and some things to think about.



Immune system related diseases such as SLO can show up at any time of life. Something triggers the immune system to inappropriately attack the bodies own cells. A medication, an allergen (insect bite), but many times the triggering event will never be discovered.


Ask your veterinarian about the malaseb spray. It will be easier to use than soaks or wet pads. And it does not sting.


Any other questions?


Dr. M

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