Injured nails are a common dog ailment. When nails grow long, they often catch on surfaces such as carpet, for instance. While catching the nail can cause breaks or fractures, occasionally an entire nail will pull out from the root, resulting in a lost nail. In most cases, a lost nail will grow back over a few months.
Signs of a Nail Injury
Aside from seeing your dog pull out the nail or finding it on the floor, other signs that suggest your dog has torn out his nail are a trail of blood spots when he walks or the act of incessantly licking his paw. Because the nail contains nerves, he is likely to be in pain.
Treating a Lost Nail
If your dog has pulled his nail completely out, apply pressure to the paw to try to stop the bleeding. Consult your veterinarian and have him assess the injury. If any small nail pieces remain, the veterinarian may remove these and administer antibiotics to prevent infection while the nail grows back.
It may take up to several weeks before the new nail begins to grow. If the nail root or surrounding tissue was severely damaged when the nail was pulled out, regrowth may be compromised, or a replacement nail may not grow at all. If regrowth is compromised, the nail may regrow in a irregular manner, requiring more frequent and adjusted trimmings. If your dog's nail does not appear to be growing back or is coming in irregularly, consult your veterinarian.