Nail Bed Tumour

After seeing two cases of nail bed tumours in the last few weeks, I wanted to raise awareness of the uncommon but very dangerous problem of nail bed tumours.

Nail bed tumours are cancers which grow at the base of the nail and can vary in their appearance. This means that any problem with dogs nails, including lumps, ulcers, nails falling out, etc. need assessing by a vet.

The most common appearances for these tumours include:

  1. A mass on the toe (75% of cases have this),
  2. Lameness (40% of cases show lameness)
  3. Ulceration of nail bed (30% of cases)
  4. Nail deformities including cracking, crooked growth and loss of the nail (12% of cases).

We see a variety of tumours affecting the nail bed, including melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas, soft tissue sarcomas, and bone tumours. These tumours tend to be very aggressive in their behaviour, and will generally spread to other parts of the body quite quickly. This means early diagnosis and treatment is essential to give the best chance of a cure.

The normal treatment may include removing the affected toe, but we find that most dogs continue to use their legs normally after the surgery. In some cases, we may use additional medications post-amputation to control any tumour which may have spread.

If your dog’s nail splits or falls out without reason, if there is an ulcer or lump where the nail attaches to the toe, or if the nail changes colour, your dog needs to see a vet to have it examined and treated promptly.