Fungal Nail Infection in Dogs

A nail infection in your dog may be caused by bacterial or fungal agents. Fungal nail infections are caused by the accumulation of fungi from soil or other areas the dog is in contact with or may be due to an overgrowth of yeast cells from the dog’s body. It’s important to detect nail infections as soon as possible, so as to avoid the spreading of the infection to other areas of the body or other pets.

Causes of Fungal Nail Infections

A fungal nail infection is caused by the accumulation of fungi and these will be picked up from various environments such as:

  • The beach
  • Wet soil
  • Moldy areas

In some cases, there may be an overgrowth of yeast cells, which are normally present on the dog’s body and this can lead to a nail or skin infection. The nail infection may also be a secondary condition to another infection (e.g. a skin infection), as the dog scratches the affected areas and fungi can get to the nails and infect these as well.

The most common types of fungi causing nail infections are the Blastomyces dermatitidis, which thrive in moldy and moist areas. Dogs that are taken to walks on the beach or woods that contain sands or moldy areas are more prone to developing fungal nail infections. Puppies that have an undeveloped immune system may also be more exposed to infections. Vets report a higher incidence of nail infections in male dogs, but the cause is unknown.

Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infections

If your dog is affected by a fungal nail infection, you will notice that he will chew on his paws an lick them, as the fungal infection causes itchiness and discomfort. Watch out for additional symptoms such as:

  • Foul odor of the paws
  • Limping
  • Nail color changes
  • The nails may become more brittle or even fall
  • Swollen paws
  • Secondary skin, ear or mouth infection, as the fungi can be easily transferred from the nails to other areas of the body

Diagnosing Fungal Nail Infections in Dogs

The vet will have to differentiate between the many possible types of nail infections. He may run a skin scraping test or have a nail sample analyzed and determine if the infectious agents are fungi.

Treatment Options of Dog Nail Infections

The treatment will consist of topical antifungal creams and rinses that will clear the infection within 3 to 4 weeks. The paws may have to be bandaged to prevent the transfer to other areas of the body. In severe cases, the vet will prescribe oral fungicide medication. The dog’s diet will play an important role in providing the minerals and vitamins necessary to strengthen the immune system and allow a faster recovery. A strengthened immune system will also mean fewer chances of infection in the future. Discuss with your vet about your pet’s nutrition and make the necessary changes.