What Could Cause Irritation & Redness on Skin Around a Dog's Toenail?

by Shellie Alyssa
    Topical ointments commonly serve in treating dog nail disorders.

    Topical ointments commonly serve in treating dog nail disorders.

    BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

    Swollen red nail beds and the surrounding area around a dog's nail is a possible sign of infection or nail disorder. Nail and claw disorders in dogs are common, and they need treatment under the guidance of a veterinarian. Exposure to snow, mud and dirt can also affect the nail health of dogs. Mud, dirt, debris and salt can get trapped in the nail bed for long periods of time, causing swelling and redness.

    Paronychia Infection

    Paronychia is an infection that causes inflammation of the nail fold and around the nail, nail bed or claw. At times, all three areas appear swollen and red. Damp claws, claws immersed in wet soil, claws with feces on them and nail damage are causes of Paronychia. Symptoms include inflammation of the surrounding tissue of the nail bed, dark discharge from the nail area and constant licking of the affected paw.

    Onychomycosis Fungal Infection

    Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the claw. A common cause is dermatophytosis, also known as ringworm. Ringworm usually affects the skin on various places on the body. At times, the ringworm will spread to the claws, causing symptoms such as redness, swelling, limping, whimpering in pain when standing and walking, and chewing on claws. Contact your veterinarian at the first sign of inflammation.

    Trauma, Dirt and Debris

    Dogs who relish digging in the dirt and snow will occasionally cause trauma to their claws. Dirt particles, dried mud, salt from snow, small twigs and debris can puncture the nail bed or get lodged. If left unattended, the area can become infected, showing redness around the nail bed and the surrounding area.
    Activities such as jumping against fences and trees can cause splinters in the paw and can split, break or otherwise harm claws. Even a simple hike in the woods can damage toenails, causing redness, and coming into contact with poisonous plants will cause irritation and redness around the nails. Inspect your dog's toenails and paws is recommended to prevent infection. Seek veterinarian assistance if any signs of redness, swelling, or bleeding appear on your dog's paws.

    Allergies and Skin Testing

    Redness on the skin and around the nail bed can be caused by allergies. Dogs can be allergic to their shampoo and other grooming products. The nail bed is especially affected due to leftover shampoo drying in the crevice of the nail bed. Veterinarians will perform an allergy skin test on your dog to find the cause of the allergy and provide treatment for the specific issue.

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    About the Author

    Based in Miami, Shellie Alyssa has been writing articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on a variety of popular and informative pet websites including munch.zone. In 2000, she was awarded an editors choice award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry from the International Library of Poetry. She holds a fashion merchandising diploma from Penn Foster College.

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