A dog's nail is more prone to injuries than ours, and most dogs will end up with a bloody nail at least once, but likely several times over their lifetime. Whether the nail's damage is minor or more serious, we're sharing how to stop a dog's nail from bleeding and your next best steps.
Did you try to trim your dog's nails and catch them a little too deep in the clippers? Or notice a dog nail bleeding after walk time?
Don't worry! A bloody nail is a common and treatable canine injury – in many cases, the dog won't be in any pain and may not even notice it happened.
While dealing with a minor nail injury, it's more crucial to stop the bleed quickly than if we cut ourselves. While humans know to move with more care when we're bleeding, your dog will unknowingly be traipsing through the house and going about its business, leaving a trail of blood on your expensive flooring, carpets, and furniture.
You'll also want to stop the bleeding at home as much as you can for more serious nail cuts, as you don't want your pup to lose too much blood as you await a vet's proper assessment and treatment.
The bottom line is, a dog's nail injury is no need to panic – follow our simple steps below to stop your dog's nail from bleeding and treat the injury at home when possible!
Why Do Dog Nails Bleed?
One reason a dog's nail bleeds far more often than ours is that the dog nail is very different, anatomically speaking.
Humans have a nail bed, plate, and root that is glued to our fingers, with only the plate's overgrowth available to trim.
A dog's claw is entirely accessible – it's separated from the foot, with only a singular attachment to a small finger bone.
The three parts of any dog's nail – the bone, nail, and quick – all protrude out from the nail bed, making it easier to trim too far. This also makes the nail more vulnerable to injury as the dog walks.
Trimming the Quick & Other Causes of Nail Bleeding
- The quick is in the center of our dogs' nails, and it contains nerves and blood vessels that help each pup's nails grow and grip the ground around them.
- Keratin makes up the outer nail, a strong material that is one and the same with our own nails – we know from experience that this substance is incapable of bleeding and pain. Otherwise, nail clipping would be excruciating for us.
- When you trim your dog's nails, you want to avoid the quick and cut only the overgrown, hardened keratin. Accidents during nail trimming can often happen, especially with a hesitant and extra-squirmy pup.
- Some dogs' nails will break naturally and begin to bleed; this happens if a dog steps on sharp objects or walks on concrete repeatedly, if a pup's nail gets caught on something and torn, or when a dog has extra brittle nails that break easily.
- This is a common occurrence if your dog spends a lot of time walking on concrete, and a canine with brittle nails may also be prone to breaks and bleeding.
How To Stop Dog Nail Bleeding At Home
Method #1: Grab a Clean, Dry, Cloth
- The moment you see that your dog's nail is bleeding, grab a clean, dry cloth and apply direct pressure on the canine's bleeding nail.
- Hold the cloth gently against the nail for 2 minutes.
- Lift the cloth, check the wound, and replace the cloth for another 2 minutes if the bleeding hasn't stopped.
- Blood should clot after 2-4 minutes of direct pressure on the pup's wound.
Method #2: Superglue Really Does Work on Everything
Superglue has a million different uses, plus another unusual one to add to the list here! Some people – including doctors – turn to superglue to close deep wounds, even surgical ones.
You can use superglue on your pup's nail to stop the bleeding if they have a deep tear, but take care to ensure your dog doesn't eat any of the glue before it sets.
Before you try the superglue method, make sure you take a quick look at the ingredients list and scan any potentially toxic ones.
Method #3: Styptic Powder for the Win
Wondering what on earth styptic powder is? It's an anti-hemorrhagic powder that stops bleeding a little more quickly, and you'll find it available at almost any pet supply store or website.
- To use styptic powder on your dog's wound, pick some up on the tip of your finger and press it directly onto the bleeding nail wound. You can also pour some powder out and step your pup's foot into it, but the process is a little messier this way.
- Apply light pressure to the wound for several seconds, and reapply as needed if the dog nail bleeding won't stop after the first application.
- When the bleeding stops, remove the pressure. This powder creates a stinging sensation, so be prepared for a little bit of flinching or whimpering as you apply it to your doggo's toes.
Method #4: Use a Plain, Old Bar of Soap
- Take a plain bar of soap and hold it in your hand until it softens slightly.
- Then, press the injured pup's nail into the soap bar for 3-5 minutes to stop the nail from bleeding.
Method #5: Cornstarch & Baking Soda
You can use plain cornstarch or a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda to stop the bleeding, almost as well as styptic powder.
- Scoop some of the cornstarch into your hand and dip the pup's affected nail into it.
- Then apply pressure for up to 2 minutes.
Method #6: Ice, Ice, Puppy
Cold ice makes blood vessels contract, which will help to slow and stop your pup's nail bleeding.
- Wrap an ice cube in a thin, dry cloth to protect your dog’s skin and ice the bleeding area for up to 5 minutes.
- If bleeding persists, remove the ice for 5 minutes, and then ice again for another 5 minutes.
Once the Bleeding Stops: Assessing the Nail Wound
Once the bleeding stops, it's time to assess the wound fully. Check to see the severity, and if you struggle to get the cut to stop bleeding, it's best to get into the vet ASAP.
For more minor nail cuts, give your pup plenty of praise, and gently hold its paws in your hands while massaging gently – your pup may be startled by the pain of the injury, and they may develop a fear around getting their feet touched, so keep normalizing the actions.
What to Do if the Wound is Serious
Many nail bleeds will be pretty minor and will heal naturally on their own, but you may need to take your pup to the vet if the injury is severe and won't stop bleeding.
In the case of serious injury, repeat the cloth process above: wrap your pup's nail and apply pressure as you call the vet and arrange to come in immediately for help.
Instead of removing the cloth after 2-4 minutes, keep holding the cloth on the wound to apply pressure and slow the bleed.
Home Remedies & Dog Nail Healing
Usually, your canine buddy can heal the wound at home. They'll lick it to keep it clean, and antibiotics are typically unnecessary.
Keep an eye out to make sure they aren't obsessively cleaning the wound, which can slow down the healing process and cause infection and irritation.
If your dog is getting a little too obsessive, you can break out the dreaded cone of doom for a few days when necessary.
You can also get a dog ramp for bed or the couch to stop your pup from jumping and reinjuring the toe during the healing process.
Monitor the wound for the next week or two, checking for infection signs like redness, swelling, cloudy discharge, heat, and pain.
Final Note: Preparations & Considerations for the Next Trim
Trimming your doggo's nails too short may leave you both with a bit of hesitance around the next trim time.
To keep your dog's nail from bleeding as you trim, you can:
- Trim well above the darker quick. Err on the safe side and trim less of the nail a little more often – try trimming once a week or every other week.
- Use the right size and style of clippers for your pup's nails, and make sure they're not dull, which can cause ripping.
- Feed your friend plenty of treats during and after the process – bribery is critical and completely acceptable!
- Buy some styptic powder to keep on hand if an accident arises in the future.
We hope this guide helps you keep your pup healthy and happy from now on!