Canine Nail Fungus

Canine Nail Fungus
Canine Nail Fungus


A case of canine nail fungus can produce a very incomfortable infection. Understanding what causes such an infection and the available treatments may help you learn what to do in the event your pet is faced with this unsightly problem. Knowing what to look for can help you catch the issue early and hopefully prevent outbreaks from getting worse.

Causes of Canine Nail Fungus

The most common cause of nail fungus in dogs is an infection from a microorganism called Blastomyces dermatitidis. This fungi grows primarily in moist dark matter such as soil, feces and decaying plants or trees. Low pH levels also contribute to the growth of Blastomyces dermatitidis. Dogs that live outside in moist conditions may be more susceptible to fungal infections.


When the fungus is present, dogs may exhibit anything from general to severe irritation on their feet, and most will lick and chew around their toes in an attempt to soothe the itch. However, some dogs show practically no symptoms at all. If your dog's nails tend to break or flake easily and are discolored, a visit to your veterinarian can confirm whether this is due to the presence of a canine nail fungus. A sample of the skin cells from around the nail can be viewed under a microscope to determine the presence of fungi.

Blastomyces dermatitidis is sometimes treated with a topical antifungal cream. However, some dogs will lick the cream off before it has had a chance to be effective. In many cases, the veterinarian will prescribe the cream along with an Elizabethan collar (A large, cone-shaped collar). The collar is placed around the animal's neck with the large area surrounding the head. This prevents the animal from being able to reach his paws to lick. Antifungal medication may also be prescribed if the area is not severely infected. Simply mix the pill with your dog's food or place it in the back of the animal's mouth. Hold the dog's muzzle closed as you gently stroke his throat in order to coax him to swallow.

For naturopathic remedies, dog owners can look to their kitchen cabinets. Soak a wash cloth in plain white vinegar, and then wipe the animal's paws between each toe. The vinegar does not taste appealing to most dogs, so they will be less tempted to lick. Vinegar is a great natural astringent that can also help kill off many microorganisms that may be present. Similar applications using tea tree oil, colloidal silver or oregano oil may also be used. Most of these items are available at health food stores such as GNC.


Maintaining a healthy living environment is the most important step to ensuring your dog does not contract canine nail fungus. Make sure you keep the area where the dog spends its time clean of feces and other decaying matter. If the dog has access to soil on a regular basis, monitor the area for muddy or standing water that may harbor the Blastomyces dermatitidis fungi. If you own a hunting or sporting dog that spends a lot of time in streams and creeks, it is a good idea to rinse his paws when returning from the field to remove possible infectious germs.

Bathing your dog on a consistent basis should also reduce his chance of picking up a fungal infection. In addition to keeping your animal clean, providing your pet with proper diet and nutrition will strengthen his immune system so it can fight off any organisms that try to take hold.

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