My Dog’s Nail Has Bent Sideways: What Should I Do?

Regular nail care is important for dogs. Improper grooming techniques, neglect, injury, or diseases can affect the condition of the nails. And even a small tear can hurt the dog a great deal.

Is your dog’s nail bent sideways? If yes, you need to check the state of the nail and paw. If the nail is broken, you will have to tend to the wound and remove the damaged part of the nail. In the case of other symptoms like bleeding, pus, or swelling, it is best to visit the vet’s clinic.

A dog’s nails can be misshapen due to various other reasons. Let us look at symptoms, causes that lead to bent nails, and what you can best do for your dog in such situations.

What Symptoms Does a Dog with Bent Nails Show?

A dog will use its paws to walk, grip objects or dig holes. Doing these activities with a bent or broken nail can be extremely painful. As you can imagine, walking with a broken toenail is not a condition you want to be in.

You will notice your dog limping or changing its gait while walking. It will do its best not to put pressure on the injured nail and paw.

Some other symptoms that the dog might show are:

  • Bleeding
  • Pus and other discharge
  • Bloodstains on carpet and blankets
  • Visible injury
  • Swelling of the paw
  • Hanging nail
  • Excessive licking of the nail

If the dog has sustained injuries to the nail, it may not let you touch its paws. In addition, you might see a decrease in its activity levels, as everyday tasks such as running or jumping can be painful.

Dog’s Nail Bent Sideways – What Are Possible Causes?

Dog’s Nail Bent Sideways - What Are Possible Causes
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If the dog’s nails are not cut properly, they can start to grow crooked. On the other hand, if the dog’s nails are not tended to and allowed to overgrow, it can lead to injuries, trauma, and infections. Some dogs can also develop immune-related diseases that can affect the condition of their nails.

Here are various causes that can make your dog’s nail bent sideways.

1. Injury

This is one of the common reasons for your pet’s nail bending. Most dogs are enthusiastic and curious creatures. You will find them poking their noses around unfamiliar objects, digging in the backyard, or trying to chase a scent when out on a walk.

Your dog’s nails can bend or break when it is jumping from a height. Or if not careful, it can slip on the stairs.

If the dog’s nails are long, they can easily get caught in things. For example, if the pet is wrapped up in a blanket, its overgrown nails can get caught in the fabric. If it aggressively tries to free itself, the nail can tear.

Digging is another common way for your dog to get nail injuries. For example, it can bang its nails hard on a stone. Or, if it is obsessively digging, its nails can get caught in grass, roots, or a big chunk of mud.

All that dirt sitting under your dog’s nails is also not a good sign. It could lead to infections. If the same dirt is ingested, it can also lead to digestive issues.

2. Nail Trimming

Nail Trimming
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You might think cutting your dog’s nails super short can keep it from trouble and save your time and effort. But, it is not the ideal route to take.

The white part of the dog’s nails is non-living, just like in humans. So, it will not feel any pain if you cut that part of its nails. But, a dog’s nail also consists of a living thing called a quick. It is a network of vessels that supply blood to the nails.

Now, the quick is right in the center of the nail. So, you need to be careful while trimming. If you nick the quick, the nail can start bleeding. Also, cutting the nails at weird angles can cause them to bend sideways.

3. Bacterial Infections

A bacterial infection is often a symptom of another underlying cause. For example, the dog may have contracted a food or environmental allergy, or it could be trauma.

Infections and inflammations of the nails and the surrounding area are known as paronychia. It is an uncommon condition, but it can be a little trickier to detect it.

The nail may not show any visible signs on the surface, but your pet might excessively lick that area. Once you remove the hair around the site, you might notice redness and swelling.

4. Weak Nails

Weak Nails
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Your dog’s nails could be bent sideways or could be breaking more often because they have become weak or brittle. Onychorrhexis is when a dog’s nails can become extremely brittle. So, if your dog’s nails get caught in fabric or furniture, they can break off easily.

The causes of this condition can range from aging to repetitive trauma and tumors. It could also be a sign of an infection called ankylostomiasis. However, it is a pretty rare parasitic disease.

5. Lupoid Onychodystrophy

It is an immune-mediated disease. It majorly targets the cells around the nail and toes. It will not lead to a full systematic illness. If your dog has this condition, its nails will start shedding over a period. In acute cases, the nail can entirely fall off.

Symptoms include pain, swelling, and inflammation of the nail bed, feet licking, and lameness. In addition, the condition can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infection.

The treatment for lupoid onychodystrophy is usually supportive care.

6. Onychogryphosis

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Your dog’s nails can grow and curve excessively. This condition is known as onychogryphosis. Your dog can primarily develop this condition, or it could result from a parasitic infection or auto-immune disease.

If the nails are bending sideways, look for other symptoms like skin lesions, swelling, lameness, or crusting around the nails. Also, the paw area could get itchy, and you can find the pet rubbing its paws against surfaces or licking.

7. Onychomycosis

Fungal infections are very rare but a possible condition that can affect a dog’s claws. And ringworms are the most common reason for a majority of these infections. The condition is detected in skin and hair, but it can also spread to a dog’s claws.

The dog’s nails can bend sideways, lose their colors and start to thicken. Other symptoms may include redness, swelling, pain, and limpness.

The vet will take multiple samples from the claws to diagnose the condition.

Why Should Bent Nails be Treated?

Nails bent or broken due to injury, trauma, or other diseases should not be left untreated.

If the dog has hurt the quick of its nail, then it will be in considerable pain. You will also see bleeding. Your priority should be to stop the bleeding and tend to the injury. If the wound is left exposed, the dog could develop secondary infections.

For example, for infections like paronychia, the condition is localized. So it can be treated using antibiotics and anti-septic soaks. But if you let the condition fester, the dog’s toe may have to be amputated.

Nail disorders may not seem that big of an issue. But, if you go through the causes mentioned above, most of them have pain and lameness as their symptom. This can affect the canine’s quality of life. Thus, provide first-aid or get the dog checked by the vet in case of any nail issues.

What to Do In Case of Injured or Broken Nails?

What to Do In Case of Injured or Broken Nails
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If you see your dog’s nail bent sideways, it has chipped or broken, then examine and tend to its condition immediately.

Here are steps that can help in case of injured or broken nails:

  • Restrain the pet with the help of another person. Your dog is in pain, and you touching its paw can aggravate its condition. It can get aggressive towards you. Thus, restraining the dog is a good idea for both your and its safety.
  • If case of bleeding, use styptic powder to stop the same. Place a pea-sized amount of the powder on the nail and hold still for a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you can use baking powder, flour, or cornstarch. Sticking the nail on a bar of soap can help as well.
  • Check where the nail is bent or broken. If there is no bleeding and you see that the quick is unaffected, you can trim the nail. But, if the damage is too serious and the quick is involved, then the removal is best left to the vet.

You can try to stop the bleeding, if any, wrap the dog’s paw in gauze or a towel and take it to the vet.

Also Read: How Often Should You Cut Your Puppy’s Nails? {Grooming Guide}

How are Nail Injuries Treated in Dogs?

How are Nail Injuries Treated in Dogs
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If the dog’s nails are prone to breakage, you cannot stop the bleeding, or there is damage to the quick, it is best to let the vet handle the situation.

The vet will first stop the nail from bleeding. Next, they will remove the damaged part of the nail. The vet might or might not administer local anesthesia to the pet, depending on the seriousness of the injury.

The damaged portion of the nail will have to be removed entirely to prevent infection and allow for re-growth. If the whole nail needs to be removed, numbing the area will be necessary as the procedure can be painful.

Next, the paw will be cleaned and bandaged. This helps stop the bleeding, contain the area, and prevent infection. Next, the vet may give the dog antibiotic ointment, oral medication, or an injection. Pain medication will also be given if the quickness of the nail is exposed.

You can clean the site and change the dressing on your own or visit the vet’s clinic for the same. Ensure you give the dog its medications on time and monitor the paw for abnormal signs like bleeding, swelling, or other discharge.

How are Nail Disorders Treated in Dogs?

How are Nail Disorders Treated in Dogs
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If your dog’s nails are brittle, they continue to peel off over weeks, are inflamed, or have discharge, it needs to be checked.

The vet will perform multiple tests to diagnose your pet’s particular nail disorder. For example, a bacterial or fungal culture will be done if an infection is suspected.

If the nails are peeling or chipping, their samples will be collected and tested. Similarly, skin samples will also be taken for testing if there is inflammation of the toe or skin lesions.

 Once infections and nail disorders are ruled out, the vet will perform complete blood work to look for auto-immune diseases.

In case of bacterial or fungal infections, the vet will give antibiotics, anti-fungal, and other ointments to control infection. In addition, antimicrobial soaks will be recommended to aid the healing process. You may have to keep up with topical treatments for a few weeks until the infection subsides and the nails start to re-grow.

In the case of lupoid onychodystrophy, the vet can give supplements such as biotin and vitamin E to manage the symptoms. If the cause is an auto-immune disease, corticosteroids and immune suppressants will be provided.

In most cases of nail disorders, the combination of medication and ointment should help control the condition. However, in rare cases, when the dog does not respond to such treatment, the vet will have to amputate the toe.

What is the Right Way to Cut a Dog’s Nails?

What is the Right Way to Cut a Dog’s Nails
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If you have never cut a dog’s nails before, it would be best to ask the vet to show you the correct technique. Learn how to identify the quick and how to avoid it while trimming.

In most dogs, you will see the pink quick on their white nails. Avoid it while cutting. It becomes a little trickier when dogs have black nails. In this situation, stick to trimming 1 to 2 mm of the top of the nails. If the dog shows any sensitivity, stop cutting, as you may be near to the quick.

It is recommended to cut the nails at a 45°angle at the top. As the quick is in the center, by cutting at an angle, you can avoid the quick and also trim the nails shorter.

Always use the right tools for trimming. For example, different-sized nail clippers are available for small to large-sized dogs. Using a dull clipper can increase the chances of the nail breaking during trimming. Use a grinder or a filer to smoothen out the rough edges of freshly cut nails.

How to Avoid Bent or Broken Nails?

How to Avoid Bent or Broken Nails
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Regular nail maintenance is the simplest way of avoiding bent or broken nails.

If your dog is scared, it is up to you to make nail trimming a comfortable experience. How can you do so? First, let the dog see and sniff at the tools. Then, show it how the tools work. For example, if you are using a nail grinder, let the dog feel its vibration and how it feels on the nail. Finally, when your dog remains calm through the process, reward it with a treat.

Start slow; maybe trim just one nail a day. Then, praise and reward the pet. Once the dog realizes that nail trimming is not something to be afraid of, your future grooming sessions will be much easier.

If you cannot get the dog to stay still or you are not confident about the task, please seek professional help. For example, you can make appointments with a groomer or get the dog to your local vet.

Bent or broken nails can be painful; thus, ensure to keep up with a nail trimming routine.

You May Also Read: Hanging Dog To Cut Nails: The 3 Best Hammocks To Use!


A dog’s nail bent sideways can be quite an issue. It could mean that the dog has suffered from an injury, trauma, infection, or nail disorder.

Apart from bent nails, you could see other symptoms like bleeding, excessive licking, swelling, redness, limpness, or skin lesions.

In case of bent or broken nails, you first need to restrain the pet from examining its paw. If there is any bleeding, stop it using styptic powder. Next, you need to cut the damaged part of the nail safely. If the quick of the nail is exposed, it is best to take the dog to the vet.

If you see symptoms like chipping, peeling, or brittle nails, it could point to an auto-immune disease that would require further examination by the vet.

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