How to Prevent Common Nail and Paw Problems

Published: December 27, 2018

Veterinarian Greenwood Indianapolis Indiana

As dog and cat owners know, pets are a part of the family. You want to take care of them just as you take care of yourself, your spouse, and your kids. 

Your pets' paws and nails are very important to their well-being and central to most things they do. Keeping their paws and nails healthy is a vital part of keeping the animal healthy. Animals that spend much of their time outdoors may be more prone to paw and nail injuries, so be sure to do routine inspections of their paw beds and nails.

Here are some common nail and paw problems, and some ways you can prevent them from happening to your furry family member.

Common Cat Nail and Paw Problems

The easiest way to prevent a cat’s nail and paw problems from getting out of control is to regularly check your cat’s nails for issues. Take the paw in your hand and press gently on the paw bed to make the nails come out. This will allow you to thoroughly inspect the nails and address any issues you may see.

The most common problems that afflict cat nails are bacterial or fungal infections. If your cat is holding his paw a funny way or licking persistently, take a look at his nails. Often, pus will be present or the nails will be discolored. If this is the case, you should make an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian so they can start a round of antibiotics.

Cat paws are also susceptible to insect stings, particularly on indoor/outdoor cats. If you see swelling or redness in your cat’s paw, it will usually get better on its own. If it does not, consult with your vet about the injury and further treatment. Other potential issues that affect indoor/outdoor cats are burns or frostbite. Be aware of the temperature; if it’s too hot or too cold outside, bring your cat inside to safety.

Common Dog Nail and Paw Problems

The most common issue we see with dogs’ nails is an overgrown nail. Dog owners who regularly walk their dogs will find that they have to trim their dogs' nails much less frequently. Routine walks help keep the nails filed down. However, if nails get too long, they can split or break, causing your pup some pain. If your dog won’t tolerate you clipping his nails, it is best to seek a professional’s help to do so. If you accidentally cut the nails too short, he will bleed and be open to infection.

Like cats, other common problems seen with dog nails are bacterial and fungal infections. If your dog is limping around, it might be due to an infection in the nail. Take a look, but always consult with your veterinarian if you suspect an infection.

Your dog’s paws are exposed to many different things; after all, he is generally outside more frequently than cats are. When taking a dog on walks, his paws might come into contact with hot grates or streets in the summer, causing burns. In the winter, he can get chemical burns from walking on salt put down to de-ice the roads and sidewalks. Frostbite can happen quickly — even when you let him out in the backyard. Ticks and mites can also be an issue for dogs, especially if you go on walks or hikes through the woods.

Whenever you do go outside with your dog, it is imperative that you wipe off his paws when you come back in and check them for any injuries. Ticks and mites should be treated by the vet. Any burns, from cold or heat, might be treated at home, but to be safe you should discuss the issue with your veterinarian.

For more information about common nail and paw problems, connect with us at Academy Animal Hospital.