All dog owners should be familiar with ways to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding because unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. Dog’s nails are actually claws and therefore contain blood vessels. In fact, they are highly vascularized even though you may not be able to see this, especially in black nails. The structure within a dog’s nail that contains the blood vessels and the nerves is called the quick. If this has become damaged and is bleeding, it is often referred to as a quicked nail. Here we outline the common causes of dog toenail bleeding, how you can prevent it and the best 5 ways to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding.
Common Causes of Dog Toenail Bleeding
Trauma to a dog’s nails can be caused by a number of events. Once you identify what has caused the problem you can ensure that it does not happen again. Here are the most common.
Owners Cut Dog’s Nail too Short
Sadly, many dog nail injuries are caused by the owner themselves and nail trimming is a particular problem. Injuries can be caused by loving and well-intentioned pooch parents who cut too far down the nail and rupture blood vessels. In dogs with pale nails, it is possible to see the quick and avoid it. It is a clear bright pink area in the center of the nail but does not reach all the way to the end. However, in dogs with black nails, it is harder to judge where to make your cut.
You will know that you have hit the quick because your pooch will yelp and move their paw away. You may see them attempting to lick the blood away. However, don’t feel too bad about this because even professional dog groomers hit a dog quickly from time to time!
Dog Walking on Hard Floor Surfaces
Believe it or not, your pooch can hurt their nails on hard floors even though they are made from tough tissue called alpha-keratin. A dog’s nail does not stop growing but gradually wears down as the nail rubs against hard surfaces. This is usually a harmless and painless process.
However, if the nail catches a hard surface awkwardly it can tear through the quick and bleed. This can be caused by your pooch simply leaping in the air and landing awkwardly on their paw. Sometimes, just a small portion of the nail breaks off but at other times the whole nail breaks off. Surprisingly, a clean break where the whole nail is lost is the easiest to treat.
Dog Biting their Nails
Some dogs like it indulge in a bit of self-grooming and gnaw their nails when they feel they are getting too long. They may start to feel pressure on their nails as they walk and decide to sort out the problem themselves. Also, some dogs bite their nails when they are anxious much like humans do.
Long nails will eventually start to curl back on themselves and this is very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, dog’s teeth are not great at making a clean cut. They tend to tear and rip the nail which can cause bleeding.
Dogs Having Brittle Nails
Sometimes you may notice that your dog’s nails have torn even after a walk on a soft surface. This may indicate that the keratin has become very thin and is therefore prone to damage.
This can be caused by several medical conditions and is something that you need to see your vet about.
How to Prevent a Bleeding Dogs Nail
There are several precautions that you can take to prevent a dog’s nail from bleeding.
Firstly, take care when you are nail trimming. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, take your dog to a professional dog groomer.
For clipping your own dog’s nails you need the right dog nail clippers and make sure that they are sharp. Dull or blunt clippers will crush the nail, cause more damage and increase the chances of bleeding. Identify the quick and cut well below this area. In dogs with black nails, only cut a tiny portion (around 1/32 inch) at a time. Often, your dog will show their displeasure as you get close to the blood vessel because the nerves are there too.
Keeping your dog’s nails short will help to prevent them from getting torn on hard surfaces and will stop your dog from biting them. This will prevent further accidental damage.
How to Stop a Dog’s Paw From Bleeding
On closer examination, you may find that it is the paw pad that is bleeding and not the nail. If this is the case, you should treat it like any other flesh wound. Clean it carefully and apply gentle pressure to the wound. It should stop bleeding soon. However, if necessary, you can apply some liquid bandage.
If the wound is deep or carries on bleeding you should consult a vet. Also, keep an eye on the wound as it heals as it could become infected.
How to Stop Dog Nail Bleeding
The most important thing to do when your dog has a bleeding nail is to keep calm. Because the cuticle is highly vascularized, there could be a lot of blood and this can make the wound appear more serious than it actually is. By keeping calm, you give yourself the best chance of examining the wound and treating it without causing your pooch more distress. Here are some things that you could try to stop the bleeding.
Stop Dog Nail Bleed with Styptic Powder
Styptic powder is used widely by vets and groomers to stop minor wounds from bleeding. Keep some in your home in a place where you can reach it easily. It contains ferric subsulfate which acts as a haemo stat (a substance that stops the flow of blood). It dries up the liquid and helps a clot to form. It may also contain a local anesthetic to stop the pain and make your dog feel more comfortable. It will work in around 30 seconds.
To use styptic powder on a bleeding nail, you apply a small quantity to the wound site and apply gentle pressure for around 30 seconds. If this does not work the first time, you can repeat the process.
You can also buy styptic powder in the form of a pencil and you may find this more convenient to use. You take the pencil and dip the tip into clean water to moisten it before rotating it across the cut nail. The pencil contains silver nitrate which seals up torn blood vessels and helps the blood to coagulate.
Stopping Dog Nail Bleeding with a Bandage
Bandages can be a useful way to stop a dog’s nail bleeding and to protect the floor and furniture in your home from being stained with blood.
You will need to wrap a clean bandage all around the dog’s paw so that it maintains pressure on the wound and encourages clotting. It is often useful to put an absorbent cotton pad and some gauze inside the bandage to soak up excess blood.
Take care not to secure the bandage too tightly so that you do not impede the circulation and make your pooch uncomfortable. Of course, you can use some of the other methods of stopping the bleeding, such as styptic powder, with a bandage.
Related Post: Liquid Bandage for Dogs
Stop the Bleeding with a Liquid Bandage
Dogs can be their own worse enemies when it comes to healing wounds. They fuss over it and lick it excessively and that impedes the healing process.
A liquid bandage can be a great way to prevent your dog from licking the area around the nail as it heals. Many also contain styptic ingredients so they also help to stop the bleeding.
Home Remedies for Dog Nail Bleeding
If your dog has a sudden nail injury and you do not have any canine medical supplies with you, there are some home remedies that work very well. Here are some that you can try.
- Bar of soap
A bar of soap can be very useful when it comes to stopping a dog’s nail from bleeding. All you have to do is soften it by running it under some water or leaving it for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water. It needs to be clean (to prevent infection) and scent-free to prevent irritation of the wound.
Once it is pliable, place it directly on the injured nail. It will need to be kept in place for around five minutes, applying pressure at the same time. If you don’t want to use the whole bar of soap, break off a large piece.
An alternative method is to glide the soap across the injured nail using your finger to press it into place around the wound. You could also break off a section of the soap and bandage it in place for a few minutes.
The soap helps to stem the bleeding and therefore encourages a clot to form.
- Baking soda and flour
Most homes will have some cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder or some other type of flour in the kitchen. This can be very useful for stopping a dog’s nail from bleeding. There are a number of different ways to apply the flour.
You could pour some flour into a container and carefully dip the injured pow into it. Alternatively, you could put some in your palm and do the same. If the bleeding does not stop, dip the paw in for a second time but do not wipe off the flour from the first dip. That could make the bleeding worse. Gently compressing the area with a clean towel or cloth will help the flour to work.
Some dogs will simply not allow you to dip their paw – especially if it is injured. So, you could also use a cotton applicator to apply some flour to the area. Again, if the first application does not work, try some more but do not wipe the first lot off. Compress the wound until it stops bleeding.
Strong household glue (super glue) is safe to use on a dog’s nail as long as they do not lick it. Therefore, it needs to be used with caution but can be highly effective.
All you have to do is apply a small amount of glue to the injured part of the nail. It seals the area and stops the bleeding. It is very important that you hold your dog’s paw for a few minutes while the glue becomes hard – your dog must not lick it during this time. Then, cover the area with a bandage.
- Homemade bandage
If you do not have a medical bandage to hand, you can improvise. Old sheets and towels can be torn up and used in an emergency. However, it is important that they are clean so that they do not introduce infection into the open wound.
Looking After Your Dog Following the Injury
You can expect your dog’s nail to stop bleeding within 20 minutes using any of the remedies detailed here. It may look as though your dog has lost a lot of blood but provided the bleeding has stopped by this time, it is not too serious a problem and they should recover well. If you are applying pressure, do this for at least three minutes and then release slowly. Carefully observe the wound to see if it starts to bleed again.
Unfortunately, the bleeding can start again so you need to encourage your pooch to lie down for around half an hour after the injury. This gives the clot sufficient time to form. For the next few days, applying a bandage can help to prevent further injury and you may need to avoid long and vigorous walks (especially over rough terrain) for a week or so. Try keeping your pooch occupied in other ways. A rubber toy stuffed with a tasty dog treat can keep them still for hours!
However, if your dog’s nail continues to bleed for more than 30 minutes, place a clean compress against it and get them to a vet right away.
If your dog’s nail was injured when you were clipping them, you may find that your pooch is nervous about this procedure. You can overcome this with time and patience- and some tasty treats to keep their mind off it!
- Dr. Laci Schaible, How to Stop a Dog’s Nail From Bleeding – PetMD
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.