“Sarge”, a brown and white desexed male Staffy about two years old was presented by his owners to have his nails clipped. They couldn’t manage to clip them at home because he resented having his feet touched or his nails trimmed, as it seemed painful for him. As seen in the accompanying photographs of his feet, Sarge’s nails were brittle, some nails were missing, and many were growing at odd angles and in odd directions. We tried to trim his nails while he was on our consulting room table, but sure enough, his feet were very painful, and he resented our touching or holding his feet. We suspect that Sarge has the rare condition of Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO), sometimes known as Idiopathic Onychomadesis (claw loss of unknown origin).
SLO often has a rapid onset, and is suspected to be immune mediated. The disease usually starts with the loss of one or two nails, which progresses to the loss or sloughing of the rest of the nails on all four feet. Other diseases of the nails, which should be ruled out include bacterial and fungal infections, drug reactions, other autoimmune skin diseases such as some forms of Pemphigus, vasculitis, and possible neoplasia. As well, the signs and end point of this disease may overlap with some other diseases of the claws. All of this information points to the rarity of the condition and the work still to be done to understand diseases of nails.
Diet supplementation with oils containing omega-3 and omega-6 , especially linolenic acid have been shown to be effective in many cases. Consequently Sarge has gone home with an oil supplement after having his nails trimmed under a short anaesthetic, and the infection around one of his nails treated.
The latest report on his welfare is that he is happy and pain-free, able to go on long walks, and his new nails seem to be growing in a normal way.