Canine Toenail Composition

The canine nail is comprised of 3 main parts. They are of the quick or the vein and nerve endings that supply both blood circulation and sensitivity to pressure and hot/cold senses of the toe and the foot.

Surrounding this very soft, fluid filled center is a pulp, inner nail bed, or layers of soft and moist tissue that helps to protect and cushion the sensitive vein and nerves much as our fatty tissue and subcutaneous makeup does for our own bodies. This area is slightly harder than the layers beneath it, yet still cannot be counted as the nail itself because it cannot protect the quick of the nail when exposed. This area is also what is visible in a light colored nail as the darker circle or half moon shape when we trim back the nail and get closer to the quick. On dark nails it can be nearly impossible to see, but it does make a different sound in the nail trimmers when clipped into. This area feels pressure and will often cause the dog to begin to pull back as it feels this pressure and anticipates possible pain.

Around these inner layers is a harder more durable wrap of many layers of protein and keratin- or fibrous structural proteins that are tough and insoluble. These layers make up the nail and round out its full length.

Toe Nail Photo


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