My Dog Had a Broken Nail And Infected Nail Bed And I Feel Guilty

My dog Ace injured his paw sometime last week.

He broke a nail, and the nail bed became really infected and painful.

I feel guilty because I know my dog’s nail probably broke because:

1. The nail was too long and it got caught on something. Or,

2. My nail clipper is old and dull and may have cracked the nail.

It didn’t help that the vet, who was not our usual vet, made a point to tell me to trim my dog’s nails more often to prevent further injuries like this.

He’s right, but it still made me feel bad.

Watch for a post on proper nail trims soon! (And a post on how a compassionate vet can make all the difference, no matter what the issue is.)

This injury was unlike other issues my dog has had in the past – pneumonia, ear infections, allergies – because I feel like I could’ve prevented his pain.

But … Ace is fine now.

He had the nail removed, and he is his usual, wagging self (with a bandaged paw and a “party hat”).

My dog's broken nail and infected nail bed

He does not hold a grudge against me or the vet who pulled the nail off.

As my husband said, “Shit happens.”

You can’t predict or prevent everything with dogs. They will get hurt or sick sometimes no matter how careful we are.

Have any of you felt guilty after your dog was hurt or sick?

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16 thoughts on “My Dog Had a Broken Nail And Infected Nail Bed And I Feel Guilty”

  1. Oh, nail-trimming. This is a subject loaded with guilt upon guilt upon guilt for me! I think you’re a nail-trimming saint compared to me. My dog is absolutely phobic about getting his nails trimmed. So we kinda, um, don’t do it. Well, almost never. I called my vet and asked them if they would do it for me, and they said, “Sure, for $80.” I asked them if they wanted to move a decimal point there, and they explained that my dog was so uncooperative that he’d need to be sedated! At one point he was obsessively licking one of his paws and it got all red and scratchy. I took a closer look and saw his dew claw was so long it was scratching his foot! Poor dog! I found myself and Hiccup a leather strap to bite down on and did his dew claws. I felt like I mine as well be giving a wild raccoon a manicure, but I managed by putting him in an over-sized vet cone so he couldn’t turn his head much or bite me. A couple months ago my husband and I teamed up on him and did all of his nails, but I cut the quick! It was so awful! And now he’s even more scared, I’m sure.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t feel too bad. There are worse owners than you. Like me.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh my gosh! I had to laugh a little at your story, because it’s so funny (“a wild raccoon a manicure!”), even though it’s obviously not funny at the same time. Poor Hiccup is probably so stressed out every time you have to do his nails, and so are you, I’m sure. Nail trims are so hard for some dogs. I hope you can figure out a solution for everyone’s sake!

  2. Ouch, poor Ace! I think most of us are guilty about not staying completely on top of keeping our dog’s nails trimmed. Haley’s not a big fan of getting hers trimmed and sometimes I put it off an extra week or two. I’m glad you mentioned old trimmers, I think I need to buy a new pair too.

    Sending Ace a “get well” hug from Haley. 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yep, I definitely need a new pair. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that or realize that earlier. Sometimes you can just replace the blade, depending on what kind you have.

  3. Oh no, poor Ace! I hope he will recover quickly. Don’t be too harsh on yourself – your husband is right, “shit happens”, and although you obviously didn’t want it to happen, it did, and you learned from the experience.

    I recently learned a lesson as well when our boy Buzz managed to fracture a tooth on a beef bone I had given him. The darn thing was too hard and too big for him, so double blame on me for making a bad choice in chews.

    I am taking extra precautions as far as our pups’ chewing goes – no more antlers or hard bones. Bully sticks will have to do the trick!

  4. November 2013 as my other half was out of town D.O.G. split his dew claw playing on a friends carpet. They also had to remove the nail and let it grow back. I felt aweful for him, but I tell you, he was a perfect patient with the Epsom Salt baths and wound care we had to do. Love that boy!!

    After a bad incident at the vets trying to get Belle’s and D.O.G.s nails trimed I decided to do it on my own. I always do it when my other half is not home (he makes me nervous) and I sit down with the cookie jar between my legs (makes them want to be right in front of me no matter what!). It started with picking up a paw, holding it, treat, and got to the point where I can now sit down with D.O.G. and clip all the nails no treats necessary, no growling(unless I grab a back leg wrong) and we are done! Missy has a front paw that she doesn’t liked touched. So I’ve been working on just touching it when she’s on my lap. CV has to hold her to help me get her nails. Aeon will stand and pull away but so far has let me clip them. I don’t take a lot off cause I’ve gotten Belle’s quick before(not fun) and since I can hear all four feet on our wood floor of all three dogs I know they are too long, but our routine works for us. I do all the dogs nails on a three to four week rotation. I know, I should do it more often, but it’s what works for us.

  5. Great article Lindsey!
    Awww, poor Ace! Hope he recovers soon. That cast makes it look 10X worse 🙁 Poor baby.
    We try to stay on top of trimming Mila’s nails. We cut them too short ONCE and that was enough for her! (It didn’t get infected, thank god) But, now she doesn’t want us close to her nails! So we’ll wait till she’s really sleepy and even then she knows what’s going on. She’ll open one eye if she thinks anything suspicious is going on, and once she knows we have the clippers, she’ll hide under the bed! We manage to get them done, but not without a fight 🙁 ….Dogs and their nails. Hugs to Ace from Barkocity.

  6. Your experience with the lecturing vet reminds me of how the dentist always tells me (and probably everyone else) to floss more. I need to trim my dogs nails more. Though it is SO much easier now that I bought a dremel! I love that thing. I hope Ace heals quickly. He looks pretty sweet in his red cast though.

  7. I forgot to mention the time I didn’t bother wrappain Kaya legs when she was playing fetch (she cuts her carpel pads on hard ground) and she nearly tore her whole pad off. It took over a month to heal & she was in a lot of pain at first. I learned my lesson. 🙁

  8. Bruce ripped one of his nails off shortly after I got him. I felt terrible. I am glad Ace is better, and sorry your vet wasn’t very compassionate.

  9. Being a drama queen myself, I’m pretty good at making Mom feel bad because she didn’t clean my ears well enough and I get an infection or things like that, but overall, she does her best. It is all you can really ask for.

  10. Poor Ace. I’m glad he’s doing okay now. I agree that it was just one of those things that sometimes happens. Your vet story reminds me of our golden, Brittni, who had severe (remember?) panic attacks during vet appointments. One vet said something like – the way your dog is acting is totally unacceptable. And then another vet at another appointment got right down on the floor with her and told us not to worry about the “scene” Brittni was making at all. I still remember how much we appreciated that vet’s compassion and understanding. Made such a difference. Be sure to give Ace some extra TLC. Thanks for sharing.

  11. My mastiff girl Bella had to have her tail amputated partially because of me. She jumped in the back seat one night and I shut the door. Right before it fully shut, she backed up. Her tail was completely crushed. We tried to save it but it had to be taken off after the stitches wouldn’t heal. Not her whole tail, but the last 5 inches or so.

    I have huge pangs of guilt every time she jumps in the car and scurries away from the door and sits on (what’s left of) her tail.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Ouch! Poor girl! I would feel bad too, but those things happen. I shut Ace’s tail in the doorway once, and luckily it wasn’t hard enough to cause permanent damage, but he does move quickly through doorways ever since.

  12. This article was so timely. Last Friday I took Amy to the shelter’s vet because of a broken nail. I could tell she was in pain and knew it was my fault. Her nails are too long and I needed to take her to the groomer. I haven’t taken her or Storm to the groomer because of all the rain here in Baton Rouge – doesn’t make sense to clean them up to get dirty as soon as they have to go outside. Anyway, I realized that I should have taken them just to get their nails trimmed. Hindsight is definitely 20/20!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh I’m glad Amy didn’t get an infected nail bed like Ace! I’m sure it was painful for her too though. Poor pups!

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