The quick within a dog’s nail is a “vascular structure,” meaning it has nerves and lots of blood vessels within it. So when it sustains an injury, it is painful for the dog—and there tends to be a lot of bleeding.
Cutting your dog’s nail too much and seeing it bleed can be a traumatizing event. Here’s how to make a dog’s nail stop bleeding and how to avoid cutting it too far in the future.
Nail Injuries in Dogs
Nail injuries are one of the most common minor injuries that veterinarians treat dogs for.
There are two main types dog nail injuries:
- Nail trim injuries: These are often caused by well-intentioned pet parents simply trying to trim their dog’s nails at home.
- Nail fractures: Sometimes, pet parents are unware that this type of injury has occurred until they notice a bleeding nail or find a nail that their dog has lost.
The second type of injury is more serious and usually requires some veterinary intervention to prevent an infection. Both types of injuries can be triaged at home, but you should always talk with your veterinarian if possible before treating your pet to make sure they don’t need any additional care.
How to Stop a Dog’s Nail From Bleeding
Styptic powder is a pet parent’s best friend in the event of a dog nail injury. The powder will help to stop the bleeding so you can examine the toe for additional injuries.
To use styptic powder, press a pea-sized amount of powder onto the nail tip to ensure that it sticks. If you trim your dog’s nails regularly, you should have this on hand during nail trim sessions.
If you don’t have styptic powder, dab the tip of the nail on a bar of soap or in a little flour or cornstarch.
If the bleeding continues for more than several minutes, call your veterinarian.
Tips for Clipping Dog Nails
- If your dog has clear or white nails, you can see the pink of the “quick” through the nail. Avoid the pink area to avoid the quick.
- If your dog has black nails, you will not be able to see the quick. In this case, only cut 1/32" (1 mm) of the nail at a time. If your dog seems to be having sensitivity, you should stop, as this will usually occur right before you cut into the blood vessel. With black nails, it is likely that you might get too close on at least one nail.
- If your dog has some clear and some black nails, use the average clear nail as a guide for cutting the black ones.
- Use sharp pet nail trimmers that are specially designed to cut pet nails. Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick.
- You should always have styptic powder available and nearby for nail trims in case your dog’s nail starts bleeding. This is available under different brand names, such as Kwik Stop and Remedy + Recovery.
Hopefully, you will never need to know how to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding, but now you’ll be prepared if it does happen.
By: Laci Schaible, DVM, CVJ
Featured Image: iStock.com/huseyintuncer