Help! My Dog Has A Broken Nail
Here's what to do when the nail won't stop bleeding 😬
If your dog has a broken nail, you can totally sympathize. You know firsthand that breaking a nail can be painful, and for your dog, broken nail scenarios can also be pretty uncomfortable.
We spoke with Kaitlyn Tullio, a licensed veterinary nurse with DodoVet, to find out what you can do about your dog’s broken nail and how to keep any potential future breaks to a minimum.
How do dogs break their nails?
“It’s a lot more difficult for their nails to break than ours since they are longer and shaped differently, but it's certainly not impossible,” Tullio told The Dodo.
Dogs can break their nails when the nails snag on something and they try to pull their paws away. Pups can also get broken nails from jumping and landing on their nails at the wrong angle.
How to tell if your dog’s got a broken nail
In most cases, you’ll be able to see for yourself when your dog’s got a broken nail. But there are other signs if you can’t clearly see the break.
“If your dog's nail is broken, it may appear crooked or you will visibly be able to see where the break is,” Tullio said. “Your dog may limp a little if the site is tender.”
How serious is my dog’s broken nail?
The seriousness of your dog’s broken nail has to do with where exactly the break is and just how painful it is.
“It can split up high (away from the paw) or down low (closer to the paw pad),” Tullio said. “It can also be completely avulsed (or ripped off). The lower the break, the more painful it can be.”
If it’s a lower break, there’s a higher chance of the quick getting cut. The quick is what supplies blood to your dog’s nails, so your pup’s nail might start bleeding quite a bit if it’s cut. Not to mention, it hurts pretty badly.
“If this is cut, it can be quite painful for your dog,” Tullio said. “The closer to the quick, the more painful it is. If the break directly affects the quick, be cautious when trying to attend to your dog since they may be in a lot of pain.”
How can I treat my dog’s broken nail at home?
There are a couple things you can do to treat your dog’s broken nail at home.
Stop any bleeding
Keeping the bleeding to a minimum is key when your dog breaks a nail.
“Once you’ve determined how bad the break is, it’s important to stop the bleeding, if there is any,” Tullio said.
There’s actually a product called Kwik Stop that’s supposed to help with bleeding nails and cut quicks.
“This is a styptic powder which will adhere to the site of bleeding and get it to stop quickly,” Tullio said.
“Since not everyone will have this on hand, you can also use cornstarch or flour to get the bleeding to stop,” Tullio said.
Don’t let your dog lick his paw
Like with most external injuries, you shouldn’t allow your dog to lick his broken nail.
“You don’t want them introducing bacteria to the area,” Tullio said. “You may need an e-collar or cone of shame.”
Keep an eye on your dog’s broken nail
According to Tullio, it’s important to watch your pup’s paws for five to seven days after he breaks a nail.
“Make sure it does not start to bleed again and to monitor for signs of infection,” Tullio said.
When to bring your dog to the vet for his broken nail
If you can get the bleeding under control, you should bring your dog in for a quick checkup within the next 12 to 24 hours.
But if you notice any other complications, or just can’t get a handle on your pup’s bleeding nail, you should bring him to the vet right away.
“If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge around the site of the break, you should take your dog to the vet,” Tullio said. “If your dog doesn’t want to put weight on the paw with the broken nail or if you are unable to control the bleeding at home, it is also very important to get your dog to the vet.”
How to prevent your dog from breaking nails
Trimming your dog’s nails is the best way to prevent them from breaking, because they’re more likely to get snagged when they’re too long.
“The longer you go in between nail trims, the longer the quick will be,” Tullio said. “With regular nail trims, the quick will start to recede, making it easier for you to cut your dog’s nails and less painful and stressful for them.”
You don't always have to go to the groomer to get your dog’s nails trimmed — you can cut them yourself at home as long as you have the right trimmer and know how to do it properly.
So if your dog breaks a nail, don’t panic — even if he starts bleeding — because now you know how to handle it and when to call the vet.