What to do when your dog breaks a nail and it’s bleeding? Here’s the Answer

Major Nail Bleeds & Nail Breaks in Dogs

A toenail that breaks near the base will bleed profusely, so apply gentle and steady pressure to the area and immediately take your pet to your family veterinarian. You should also take your pet immediately to the vet if bleeding does not stop or if the toenail remains partially attached. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infection of the nail bed.

Loosely Attached Cracked Or Broken Nail

If you do happen to find a nail that is very loose and dangling, then you can attempt to remove it at home. Be sure to have someone help restrain your dog safely while you gently try to remove the nearly broken off nail with a quick pull motion. Caution: only attempt removal if the nail is very loose! Think “loose wiggly tooth” like when you were a kid.

Also, be careful during your inspection or attempt to remove a loose nail as this can cause a sudden and unpleasant pain sensation in which some dogs may nip or bite in surprise. If bleeding is noted following the removal, you can then use some gauze, light pressure, and/or Kwik Stop.  Â

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Tips for Treating Your Dog’s Broken Nail

We advise you to take your dog to the vet if the bleeding does not stop or if the injury looks serious. However, if it is a minor injury, you may be able to take care of it at home.

First, remove the remaining piece of the nail if it is still attached. You can use a dog nail clipper. However, if your dog is in pain from the hanging nail, take her to the vets office so she can be given pain medication and sedation prior to treatment.

Next, stop the bleeding by applying gentle pressure. If you have a styptic pencil or powder that you can apply to the wound, it will help stop the bleeding almost immediately. Regular flour or cornstarch can also do the trick. Compress with a towel for a few minutes, and you are good to go!

Third, clean the wound and disinfect the area to prevent infection. You can bathe the paw in warm water and eliminate any traces of dirt and debris. Spray antiseptic, and if the wound bleeds again, apply more pressure.

Finally, if you think the paw may need to be bandaged, contact your vet for guidance. Bandages that are too tight, wet, or dirty can cause significant problems for your pet.

Dog Care – Broken and Bleeding Toe Nail

A dogs broken nail isnt necessarily life-threatening, but its something to treat as soon as possible within a day or two. Minor issues you might be able to handle on your own, but there are other stages of damage best handled at a veterinary clinic.

Dog nails, also referred to as claws, are similar to human nails in that theyre part living tissue, part protective coating. VCA Hospitals notes the nail quick consists of nerves and blood and attaches to the bone. Protecting the quick is a tough cellular protein exterior called keratin. “That is why trimming the tip of the nail is not painful for your pet but exposing the quick is uncomfortable,” VCA states.

Jo Myers, DVM, of Salida, Colo. is a telehealth practitioner on Vetster. She says healthy dog nails of an appropriate length dont break, at least not without some serious trauma. Occasionally, she adds, some dogs have broken nails due to the condition onychodystrophy, which might produce weak or misshapen nails, but this is rare.

So why do dogs nails break? “Claws require regular trimming, and if this isnt done in a timely manner, they become overgrown and can easily catch on things like carpet or a crack in the floor, and tear,” Myers says.

More often than not, your pooch has a paw problem when you see him licking it or limping a bit, hear him suddenly cry out—or theres a lot of blood. Myers says this last bit is often alarming for pet parents.

“Even though bleeding can be upsetting and makes a big mess, its important to understand that its not dangerous or life-threatening,” she says. “It may look like a lot, but the bleeding will eventually stop.” Sometimes the nail injury is too painful for pups to even want to lick it, so there might be more blood than you expect.

Take a deep breath, then encourage your pup to be calm and comfortable for inspection. Have that treat bag close by! Keep in mind the area will likely be tender, and he might be reluctant to let you take a closer look. Myers says sometimes the claw is ripped all the way off, or its left cracked and crooked.

If theres an infection, Myers says, youll notice your dogs toe becomes red and swollen. He might start limping again because the injury is more painful now, or even act sick. Additionally, “a foul-smelling discharge may also start to ooze from the broken claw,” she says. “In a worst-case scenario, this infection spreads into the bone of the toe and can become quite difficult to manage without surgical amputation.”

Youll likely notice a nail problem before infection sets in. But if youre uncertain as to how bad the injury is, take your pup to the vet after inspecting the area to ensure a steady road to recovery.