Recently, VCA SFVS veterinarian Dr. Corynn Johnson discussed a dog’s paw problem – specifically a toenail issue – with the pet owner. The dog’s human companion was concerned about inflammation on her dog’s paw near the toenail. Her dog was limping and not putting weight on that particular foot, and the problem wasn’t going away. Dr. Johnson shared the following information:
When toenail issues persist beyond a few days, veterinarians become concerned about the underlying cause, particularly if the problem has been unresponsive to antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
Possible nail bed disorders include fungal infections, resistant bacterial infections and foreign bodies (e.g., foxtails).
Dogs are susceptible to multiple types of toenail cancers, which can be benign, such as a keratoacanthoma, or malignant. Squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma and basal cell tumors can be aggressive cancers and should be treated promptly.
A veterinarian should perform a thorough examination of the toe while the pet is sedated. The hair should be clipped to reveal any changes to the skin, and lymph nodes in the respective leg should be examined for enlargement. Your veterinarian can obtain a tissue biopsy of the affected area to determine if cancer is present, as well as collect samples for bacterial and fungal culture to rule out infectious causes.
Radiographs (X-rays) of the foot will indicate whether the bones in the toe are affected, which is common with tumors. Additionally, if there is any evidence of foreign material, your veterinarian can use this opportunity to surgically remove any offending object.