How to Keep Your Dog's Toenails Healthy and Infection-Free

How to Keep Your Dog's Toenails Healthy and Infection-Free

How to Keep Your Dog's Toenails Healthy and Infection-Free

Dog Toenail Infection: Nurturing the Health of Your Canine Companion

A dog’s toenail infection, medically termed onychomycosis, is a common ailment that affects the claws of our beloved canine companions. It occurs when a fungus invades and infects the toenail, leading to a range of distressing symptoms. Picture your dog limping or showing signs of discomfort while walking, its normally healthy toenails now discolored, brittle, and emitting an unpleasant odor. Recognizing and addressing toenail infections promptly is crucial to ensuring your dog’s overall well-being and preventing further complications.

The relevance of toenail infections in dogs extends beyond just causing discomfort. Neglected infections can spread to other toenails, making them more susceptible to breakage and pain. Moreover, the infection may potentially enter the bloodstream, leading to serious health risks. Historically, toenail infections were treated with topical antifungal medications, but recent advancements have introduced oral antifungal medications that offer a more effective and convenient solution.

In the subsequent sections of this comprehensive guide, we will delve deeper into the multifaceted topic of dog toenail infections. We will explore the various causes and contributing factors, discuss the signs and symptoms to watch out for, and outline preventive measures to safeguard your dog’s toenail health. Additionally, we will provide detailed information on treatment options, including medications, home remedies, and surgical interventions, empowering you with the knowledge to care for your dog’s toenails effectively.

dog toenail infection

Understanding the key points about dog toenail infection is crucial for dog owners to recognize and address this common ailment effectively. By gaining knowledge about the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options, dog owners can ensure the well-being of their canine companions and prevent further complications.

  • Causes: Fungus, bacteria, trauma.
  • Symptoms: Discoloration, brittleness, odor.
  • Prevention: Trimming, hygiene, avoiding injuries.
  • Treatment: Antifungal medication, surgery.
  • Breeds: Poodles, Bulldogs, Beagles (prone).
  • Lifespan: Can be chronic if untreated.
  • Recurrence: Possible if underlying cause not addressed.
  • Home Remedies: Epsom salt soaks, apple cider vinegar.

To illustrate the key points, consider the case of Max, a 5-year-old Beagle prone to toenail infections due to his breed’s predisposition. Max’s owner noticed discoloration and brittleness in his toenails, indicating a potential infection. By recognizing the symptoms and seeking veterinary care promptly, Max received appropriate antifungal medication and recovered fully. This example highlights the importance of understanding the key points about dog toenail infection to ensure timely intervention and prevent complications.

Causes: Fungus, bacteria, trauma.

Understanding the underlying causes of dog toenail infection is essential for effective prevention and treatment. Three primary factors contribute to the development of this condition: fungus, bacteria, and trauma.

  • Fungal Infection:

    Dogs can contract fungal infections through exposure to contaminated soil, water, or other infected animals. Common fungal culprits include dermatophytes, such as Trichophyton and Microsporum, which thrive in warm, moist environments. These fungi invade the toenail, causing discoloration, brittleness, and a foul odor.

  • Bacterial Infection:

    Bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas, can also lead to toenail infections. These bacteria may enter the nail bed through injuries or cracks in the nail, resulting in pain, swelling, and discharge. Bacterial infections often cause the toenail to become discolored and brittle.

  • Trauma:

    Physical trauma to the toenail can create an entry point for infection. This can occur due to excessive wear and tear, improper nail trimming, or injuries caused by running or playing on rough surfaces. Trauma can also result in nail bed damage, leading to further complications.

These three causes are interconnected and can sometimes coexist. For instance, trauma to the toenail can compromise its integrity, making it more susceptible to fungal or bacterial invasion. Conversely, a fungal or bacterial infection can weaken the toenail, increasing the risk of trauma-induced damage. Recognizing the diverse causes of dog toenail infection is crucial for implementing appropriate preventive measures and seeking timely treatment.

Symptoms: Discoloration, brittleness, odor.

The symptoms of dog toenail infection, namely discoloration, brittleness, and odor, are critical indicators of underlying pathological processes. These symptoms are closely intertwined with the infection itself, serving as both cause and effect.

Cause and Effect:
Discoloration, brittleness, and odor can be both a cause and an effect of dog toenail infection. Fungal and bacterial infections can cause the nail to change color, becoming yellow, brown, or black. This discoloration is often accompanied by brittleness, as the infected nail becomes weak and crumbly. Additionally, the infection can lead to the accumulation of debris and bacteria under the nail, resulting in an unpleasant odor.

Discoloration, brittleness, and odor are key components of dog toenail infection, indicating the presence and severity of the condition. The discoloration is caused by the growth of microorganisms within the nail, while the brittleness and odor are consequences of the infection’s destructive effects on the nail structure.

In practice, dog owners may notice various manifestations of these symptoms. For instance, a dog with a fungal infection may have yellow or brown discoloration of the toenail, accompanied by a brittle texture and a musty odor. In cases of bacterial infection, the toenail may appear greenish or black, with a foul smell and a soft, crumbly consistency.

Understanding the relationship between these symptoms and dog toenail infection is crucial for early detection and appropriate treatment. By recognizing the signs of infection, dog owners can promptly seek veterinary care, preventing further complications. Additionally, monitoring these symptoms during treatment helps assess the effectiveness of the medication and track the progress of the infection.

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In conclusion, the symptoms of discoloration, brittleness, and odor are not merely indicators of dog toenail infection but also play a role in its progression. Recognizing and understanding these symptoms empower dog owners to take proactive measures in safeguarding their canine companions’ toenail health.

One challenge lies in differentiating between symptoms caused by infection and those resulting from other conditions, such as trauma or nutritional deficiencies. Veterinary consultation is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Broader Connection:
Comprehending the relationship between these symptoms and dog toenail infection enhances our understanding of the disease process and its impact on canine well-being. This knowledge contributes to the broader goal of promoting responsible pet ownership and ensuring the health and happiness of our furry friends.

Prevention: Trimming, hygiene, avoiding injuries.

Dog toenail infection, while prevalent, is largely preventable through proper nail care and injury avoidance. This section delves into the multifaceted relationship between prevention and dog toenail infection, exploring how trimming, hygiene, and injury prevention play a crucial role in maintaining toenail health.

Cause and Effect:
Improper nail care and injuries can directly cause toenail infections. Long, untrimmed nails are more prone to breakage and harbor bacteria and fungi. Lack of hygiene, such as infrequent paw cleaning, allows microorganisms to thrive in the moist environment between the toes, increasing the risk of infection. Injuries, whether from rough terrain or excessive chewing, provide an entry point for pathogens, leading to infection.

Prevention, encompassing trimming, hygiene, and injury avoidance, serves as a critical defense mechanism against toenail infections. Regular nail trimming prevents overgrowth and minimizes the risk of breakage and injury. Hygiene practices, such as regular paw cleaning and drying, reduce the presence of microorganisms that can cause infection. Avoiding injuries by providing a safe environment and discouraging excessive chewing helps maintain the integrity of the toenail and prevent infection.

In practice, the connection between prevention and infection is evident. A dog with overgrown nails may experience nail breakage while running, creating an open wound susceptible to infection. A dog that frquemment licks and chews its paws due to allergies or anxiety may develop cracks in the nail, facilitating the entry of pathogens. Conversely, a dog that receives regular nail trims, has its paws cleaned after walks, and is provided with safe toys to chew is less likely to develop a toenail infection.

Understanding the relationship between prevention and dog toenail infection is paramount for dog owners. By implementing preventive measures, owners can significantly reduce the likelihood of infection and its associated discomfort and complications. Regular nail trimming, maintaining paw hygiene, and preventing injuries are simple yet effective ways to safeguard toenail health.

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In conclusion, prevention is a cornerstone of dog toenail health. By prioritizing nail care, maintaining hygiene, and preventing injuries, dog owners can effectively minimize the risk of infection, ensuring the well-being and comfort of their canine companions.

A challenge lies in the fact that some dogs may resist nail trimming or paw cleaning, making prevention difficult. Patience, positive reinforcement, and gradual acclimation can help overcome these challenges.

Broader Connection:
Recognizing the importance of prevention in dog toenail infection enhances our understanding of the broader theme of canine health management. Just as prevention is crucial for toenail health, it plays a vital role in preventing various other health issues, underscoring the significance of responsible pet ownership and proactive care.

Treatment: Antifungal medication, surgery.

In the context of dog toenail infection, treatment encompasses a range of approaches, primarily involving antifungal medication and, in severe cases, surgery. Understanding the relationship between these treatments and dog toenail infection offers valuable insights into managing and resolving this common canine health issue.

Cause and Effect:
Dog toenail infection is predominantly caused by fungal and bacterial pathogens. Antifungal medication directly targets and eliminates these pathogens, addressing the root cause of the infection. In contrast, surgery, though not directly addressing the infection’s cause, may be necessary to remove severely damaged or infected nail tissue, promoting healing and preventing further complications.

Antifungal medication constitutes a vital component in combating dog toenail infection. These medications work by inhibiting the growth of fungi, thereby eliminating the infection. Surgery, on the other hand, plays a secondary role, reserved for cases where the infection has caused extensive damage to the nail bed or surrounding tissue, necessitating surgical removal of the affected nail or surrounding tissue.

Consider a dog with a fungal toenail infection. The veterinarian may prescribe oral antifungal medication, such as terbinafine or fluconazole, which the dog owner administers daily. Over a period of weeks, the medication gradually eliminates the fungal infection, restoring the nail to its healthy state. In a more severe case, a dog with a bacterial infection may develop a deep abscess within the nail bed. Surgical intervention becomes necessary to drain the abscess, remove the infected nail, and administer appropriate antibiotics, facilitating healing and preventing further spread of the infection.

Understanding the treatment options for dog toenail infection empowers dog owners to make informed decisions in collaboration with their veterinarian. Antifungal medication is typically the first line of defense, with surgery reserved for severe and unresponsive cases. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial for preventing complications and ensuring a successful outcome.

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In summary, treatment for dog toenail infection involves antifungal medication and, in severe cases, surgery. Antifungal medication directly targets and eliminates the underlying cause of the infection, while surgery addresses extensive damage and promotes healing. Recognizing the relationship between these treatments and dog toenail infection is essential for effective management and resolution of this common canine ailment.

A potential challenge lies in ensuring medication compliance. Some dogs may resist taking oral medication, necessitating creative methods of administration or exploring alternative treatment options.

Broader Connection:
Comprehending the treatment options for dog toenail infection enhances our understanding of the multifaceted nature of canine healthcare. Just as various treatments exist for toenail infection, a wide range of medical interventions are available for addressing diverse health conditions, underscoring the importance of seeking veterinary care when a dog’s health is compromised.

Breeds: Poodles, Bulldogs, Beagles (prone).

Certain dog breeds exhibit a predisposition to toenail infections due to various factors related to their anatomy, behavior, and health. Understanding these breed-specific predispositions helps tailor preventive and treatment strategies, enhancing the overall management of dog toenail infections.

  • Poodles:

    Poodles, particularly toy and miniature varieties, often have thick, tightly packed fur between their toes, creating a warm, moist environment conducive to fungal growth. Additionally, their curly nails tend to trap debris and moisture, further increasing the risk of infection.

  • Bulldogs:

    Bulldogs’ short, stocky build and wrinkled skin folds often lead to excessive sweating between their toes, providing a suitable environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive. Their nails are also prone to becoming overgrown and impacted, exacerbating the risk of infection.

  • Beagles:

    Beagles’ love for exploring and digging, combined with their active lifestyle, exposes their toenails to various terrains and potential hazards. This can lead to injuries, nail breakage, and subsequent infections. Moreover, their floppy ears may obstruct airflow to their paws, increasing moisture retention and the risk of infection.

  • Other Predisposed Breeds:

    Other breeds with a higher likelihood of developing toenail infections include Shar Peis, Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels, and French Bulldogs. These breeds share similar characteristics, such as thick fur, wrinkled skin, or long nails, which contribute to the increased risk.

Recognizing the breed-specific predispositions to toenail infections allows dog owners and veterinarians to implement targeted preventive measures, such as regular nail trimming, thorough paw cleaning after walks, and maintaining a dry environment between the toes. Early detection and prompt treatment of any signs of infection are crucial to prevent complications and ensure a swift recovery.

Lifespan: Can be chronic if untreated.

Understanding the implications of “Lifespan: Can be chronic if untreated.” is crucial in recognizing the significance of timely intervention and treatment for dog toenail infections. This aspect highlights the potential consequences of neglecting or delaying proper care, emphasizing the importance of proactive management.

  • Persistence and Recurrence:

    Dog toenail infections, if left untreated, can persist for extended periods, becoming chronic conditions. Fungal infections, in particular, are notorious for their stubborn nature, often requiring prolonged treatment and meticulous care to eradicate completely. Moreover, once a dog has experienced a toenail infection, it is more susceptible to future infections, due to the compromised integrity of the nail and surrounding tissues.

  • Progression and Complications:

    Untreated toenail infections can progress, causing severe complications. As the infection advances, it may spread to other toenails or deeper structures within the paw, leading to pain, lameness, and even bone infections. In extreme cases, amputation of the affected toe or limb may be necessary to prevent life-threatening complications.

  • Reduced Quality of Life:

    Chronic toenail infections can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life. The pain and discomfort associated with the infection can hinder their mobility and participation in everyday activities. Additionally, the unsightly appearance of infected toenails can lead to social stigmatization and reluctance to interact with other dogs or engage in social situations.

  • Increased Treatment Difficulty:

    Chronic toenail infections are often more challenging to treat compared to early-stage infections. The longer the infection persists, the more resistant the causative organism may become to antifungal or antibacterial medications. This can necessitate longer treatment durations, increased medication dosages, and potential side effects.

The chronicity of dog toenail infections underscores the significance of seeking veterinary attention promptly upon observing any signs or symptoms of infection. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can effectively resolve the infection, prevent complications, and ensure a swift return to good toenail health and overall well-being for the affected dog.

Recurrence: Possible if underlying cause not addressed.

Cause and Effect:
Recurrence of dog toenail infection is often a direct consequence of neglecting or inadequately addressing the underlying cause of the initial infection. This underlying cause could be a systemic health issue, such as allergies or hormonal imbalances, or an environmental factor, such as prolonged exposure to moisture or contact with an infectious agent.

Recurrence serves as a critical indicator of the need to investigate and address the root cause of the infection. It suggests that the initial treatment may not have been fully effective or that the underlying condition predisposing the dog to infection remains unresolved.

Consider a dog with a toenail infection caused by an allergy to a specific grass. If the dog continues to be exposed to this grass after the initial infection is treated, the infection is likely to recur. Another example is a dog with a toenail infection due to a hormonal imbalance. Unless the hormonal imbalance is addressed, the dog may experience recurrent toenail infections.

Understanding the link between recurrence and the underlying cause is crucial for developing a comprehensive treatment plan. By thoroughly investigating the potential causes of the infection, veterinarians can implement targeted interventions to address the root problem, reducing the risk of recurrence and promoting long-term toenail health.

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In conclusion, recurrence of dog toenail infection highlights the importance of identifying and addressing the underlying cause to prevent future episodes. This requires collaboration between pet owners and veterinarians to conduct thorough diagnostic tests, explore potential contributing factors, and implement appropriate treatment strategies.

A challenge lies in identifying the underlying cause, especially when it is a systemic health issue or an environmental factor that is difficult to pinpoint. This may require extensive testing and careful observation to determine the root cause and develop an effective treatment plan.

Broader Connection:
Comprehending the relationship between recurrence and underlying causes enhances our understanding of the multifaceted nature of dog toenail infection. It underscores the importance of a holistic approach to treatment, considering both the immediate infection and the predisposing factors, to achieve lasting resolution and prevent future episodes.

Home Remedies: Epsom salt soaks, apple cider vinegar.

Epsom Salt Soaks: A Soothing Relief
Epsom salt, composed of magnesium and sulfate, possesses remarkable therapeutic properties that alleviate inflammation and pain, common symptoms associated with dog toenail infection. By soaking the affected paw in a warm Epsom salt solution, the magnesium ions help reduce swelling and discomfort, while the sulfate ions promote healing and tissue repair. This simple yet effective remedy provides immediate relief to dogs suffering from toenail infections.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Antifungal and Antibacterial Properties
Apple cider vinegar, with its potent antifungal and antibacterial properties, serves as a natural remedy for dog toenail infection. Its acidic nature helps combat fungal growth, while its antibacterial properties inhibit bacterial proliferation. Diluting apple cider vinegar in water and applying it directly to the infected toenail can help reduce inflammation, kill microorganisms, and promote healing. However, it’s crucial to avoid using undiluted vinegar, as it may cause irritation or burns to the delicate skin between the toes.

Examples of Home Remedy Success
Numerous dog owners have shared their positive experiences using Epsom salt soaks and apple cider vinegar to treat their dogs’ toenail infections. In one instance, a dog named Max suffered from a stubborn fungal infection that resisted conventional treatment. After trying various medications without success, Max’s owner turned to home remedies. Regular Epsom salt soaks and apple cider vinegar applications gradually improved Max’s condition, and within a few weeks, the infection completely resolved.

Applications in Dog Toenail Infection Management
Understanding the benefits of Epsom salt soaks and apple cider vinegar in treating dog toenail infection empowers pet owners to provide supportive care alongside veterinary treatment. These home remedies can help reduce pain and inflammation, combat infection, and promote healing. However, it’s important to note that home remedies alone may not be sufficient to address severe or chronic infections. Consulting a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment remains essential.

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Epsom salt soaks and apple cider vinegar offer natural and effective remedies for dog toenail infection, providing relief from pain and inflammation while aiding healing. While these home remedies can be beneficial, they should not replace veterinary care, especially in severe or persistent cases. Consulting a veterinarian is crucial to determine the underlying cause of the infection and receive appropriate treatment.

One challenge in using home remedies is ensuring proper dilution and application to avoid potential skin irritation or adverse effects. Consulting a veterinarian or experienced pet care professional is advisable before using any home remedies.

Broader Connection:
Comprehending the role of home remedies in managing dog toenail infection enhances our understanding of the multifaceted approach to canine healthcare. Just as home remedies can complement veterinary treatment for toenail infection, a holistic approach is often necessary to address various health conditions, underscoring the importance of responsible pet ownership and proactive care.


This section aims to address frequently asked questions (FAQs) about dog toenail infections, providing concise and informative answers to common queries and concerns.

Question 1: Are dog toenail infections contagious to humans?

Answer: In general, dog toenail infections are not directly contagious to humans. However, maintaining good hygiene practices is crucial to prevent the spread of bacteria or fungi from an infected dog to humans. This includes washing hands thoroughly after handling the dog’s paws or cleaning up any discharge from the infected toenail.

Question 2: Can dog toenail infections heal on their own?

Answer: Minor toenail infections may resolve on their own with proper foot care and hygiene. However, most infections require veterinary treatment to eliminate the underlying cause and prevent complications. Seeking veterinary attention promptly is essential to ensure effective treatment and minimize discomfort for the dog.

Question 3: What are the signs of a severe toenail infection?

Answer: Severe toenail infections may exhibit signs such as excessive swelling, redness, and pain in the affected toe. The toenail may appear discolored, brittle, or deformed, and there might be discharge or bleeding. Additionally, the dog may exhibit lameness or reluctance to bear weight on the affected paw.

Question 4: How can I prevent toenail infections in my dog?

Answer: Regular nail trimming, maintaining paw hygiene, and avoiding injuries are key preventive measures against toenail infections. Keep the dog’s nails short and smooth to prevent breakage and accumulation of dirt or debris. Clean the paws thoroughly after walks or outdoor activities to remove potential contaminants. Additionally, provide a safe environment to minimize the risk of injuries that could lead to infections.

Question 5: What are the treatment options for dog toenail infections?

Answer: Treatment options depend on the severity and underlying cause of the infection. Antifungal or antibacterial medication is commonly prescribed to combat the infection. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the infected toenail or address any underlying bone or joint issues.

Question 6: How can I tell if my dog’s toenail infection is getting worse?

Answer: Monitor your dog’s toenail infection closely for signs of worsening. If the swelling, redness, or pain intensifies, or if the discharge becomes more severe or changes color, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian immediately. Additionally, if the infection spreads to other toenails or causes the dog to become lethargic or lose appetite, prompt veterinary attention is crucial.

These FAQs provide a comprehensive overview of common questions related to dog toenail infections. If you have further concerns or notice any unusual symptoms in your dog’s toenails, consulting a veterinarian is always advisable.

Moving forward, the next section of this article will delve deeper into the potential causes of dog toenail infections, exploring various factors that can contribute to the development of this common canine ailment.


Esta seccin proporciona consejos prcticos para prevenir y tratar las infecciones de las uas de los perros. Al aplicar estos consejos, los dueos de perros pueden garantizar la salud y el bienestar de sus mascotas.

Consejo 1: Mantener las uas recortadas: Las uas largas y sin recortar son ms propensas a romperse y acumular suciedad. Recortar las uas regularmente ayuda a prevenir infecciones y mantiene los pies del perro sanos.

Consejo 2: Limpiar las patas: Despus de los paseos o actividades al aire libre, es importante limpiar las patas del perro para eliminar cualquier contaminante potencial. Esto ayuda a prevenir la acumulacin de bacterias y hongos que pueden causar infecciones.

Consejo 3: Proporcionar un ambiente seguro: Evitar que el perro camine sobre superficies rugosas o afiladas puede ayudar a prevenir lesiones en las uas que podran conducir a infecciones.

Consejo 4: Reconocer los signos de infeccin: Si observa algn cambio en las uas de su perro, como decoloracin, fragilidad u olor desagradable, es importante consultar con un veterinario La deteccin temprana de la infeccin puede ayudar a prevenir complicaciones.

Consejo 5: Seguir las instrucciones del veterinario: Si el veterinario prescribe medicamentos para tratar la infeccin de las uas, es fundamental seguir las instrucciones cuidadosamente. Esto incluye administrar el medicamento segn lo indicado y completar el tratamiento completo, incluso si los sntomas parecen desaparecer antes de tiempo.

Consejo 6: Mantener la higiene: Baar al perro regularmente y mantener su entorno limpio ayuda a prevenir infecciones. Los perros que viven en condiciones insalubres tienen ms probabilidades de desarrollar infecciones en las uas.

Consejo 7: Evitar el contacto con otros perros infectados: Si su perro tiene una infeccin en las uas, es importante mantenerlo alejado de otros perros para evitar la propagacin de la infeccin.

Consejo 8: Consultar al veterinario regularmente: Las revisiones peridicas con el veterinario son esenciales para detectar cualquier problema de salud, incluidas las infecciones de las uas, en una etapa temprana. Esto permite un tratamiento oportuno y ayuda a prevenir complicaciones.

Al seguir estos consejos, los dueos de perros pueden ayudar a mantener las uas de sus mascotas sanas y prevenir infecciones.

Estos consejos no slo ayudan a prevenir y tratar las infecciones de las uas, sino que tambin contribuyen al bienestar general del perro. Unas uas sanas permiten al perro caminar y moverse cmodamente, lo cual es esencial para su calidad de vida.


El artculo exhaustivo sobre “infeccin de las uas de los perros” ha explorado diversos aspectos de esta afeccin comn en los caninos. En primer lugar, comprendimos las causas fundamentales de la infeccin, que incluyen hongos, bacterias y traumatismos. A continuacin, examinamos los sntomas reveladores, como la decoloracin, la fragilidad y el olor desagradable, que ayudan a los dueos a identificar la afeccin en sus mascotas. Adems, discutimos las medidas de prevencin clave, como el recorte regular de las uas, la higiene de las patas y la evitacin de lesiones, que desempean un papel crucial para mantener sanas las uas de los perros.

Como mensaje final, enfatizamos la importancia de la deteccin temprana y el tratamiento oportuno de las infecciones de las uas en los perros. El retraso en la atencin veterinaria puede provocar complicaciones graves, como la propagacin de la infeccin a otras partes del cuerpo o la prdida de la ua afectada. Por lo tanto, alentamos a los dueos de perros a que revisen peridicamente las uas de sus mascotas y busquen atencin veterinaria inmediata si observan algn signo de infeccin. Juntos, podemos garantizar la salud y el bienestar de nuestros amados compaeros caninos.

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