Dogs need to have their toenails trimmed regularly. Pet parents with the best intentions can accidentally cut too far into the nail, hitting the quick and causing bleeding. The quick is at the base of the nail, and it’s also the site of some very sensitive nerve endings, so you need to avoid it as best as possible.
Since a dog’s toenails need to be trimmed as often as twice a month, and they tend to squirm around while you’re clipping, it’s pretty easy to cut too low accidentally.
Keep reading to learn how to stop dog nail bleeding.
What to Do When a Dog’s Nail Bleeds
You’re using the right trimmer, and you’ve prepared all your supplies. Now, you accidentally cut into the quick, causing a sharp yelp from your dog and a bit of bleeding.
Don’t panic! Apply firm and steady pressure at the bleeding site with a soft and clean towel. You can even try to simultaneously give your dog a treat to distract them.
If a few moments of steady pressure don’t stop the flow of blood, use your styptic powder right away. Keep your dog on the floor so they can’t walk around and make it worse. If your styptic treatment came with an applicator, press your dog’s nail into the ointment and hold it there for a minute or so. That should do the trick, and you can give your furry friend a treat to reward their good behavior.
If you don’t have styptic powder at home, you can also try a couple of other remedies for bleeding:
- Styptic Sticks or Pencils – press the edge of a damp styptic pencil against the nail’s edge to stop the bleeding quickly. These sticks often have silver nitrate as an ingredient and may sting on application.
- Baking Soda and Cornstarch – a paste made by combining these common ingredients can help slow blood flow
- Bar of Soap – Dampen an old-fashioned bar of soap, and drag it back and forth gently on the damaged nail to slow bleeding
Finally, if the bleeding is persistent, you should bandage your dog’s nail. To do so effectively, you have to bandage the entire paw, or your dog will just lick and chew your bandage away. Start with a gauze pad and press it to the bleeding site. Then use a vet-wrap or cling bandage to wind around the injury, then up the paw a bit. When you’re done, you can slip a tall sock over your dog’s paw to make it even sturdier.
Supplies for Bleeding Nails
It’s a good idea to make sure you have some styptic powder on hand. It’s an anticoagulant that aids in clotting. A quick shake of the powder will not only help stop the bleeding by helping the blood clot faster, but it will also apply a small amount of Benzocaine, a topical anesthetic that helps numb the pain your dog feels.
You can buy simple powders, ointments, or even first aid kits that treat dog toenail bleeding. You should also have some treats on hand.
Follow my nail clipping guide to make sure you’re trimming your dog’s nails the right way.
Why Do Dogs Need Their Nails Trimmed?
Dogs with overgrown nails can experience consequences that negatively affect their overall health. For instance, when their nails get even a little bit too long, and they tend to walk on hard surfaces a lot, it can be pretty uncomfortable for them.
Nail trimming is an essential part of caring for and grooming your dog. As the nails get even longer, the discomfort gets dangerous, as it begins to affect their posture. Finally, unclipped nails can get so long that they puncture the pad of the dog’s paw, potentially causing infection.
Finding the Quick and Avoiding It
The “quick” of a dog’s nail is the equivalent to the bed of a human finger or toenail. When we trim our own nails, we can feel when the clipper gets a little too low. So, since you can’t feel what your dog is feeling, it’s prudent to make many smaller cuts rather than one big one.
Dogs with light-colored nails have a visibly pink quick that is pretty obvious and easy to avoid. It’s much harder to tell where the nail ends and where the quick begins on dogs with darker nails, at least until you start trimming.
After each cut, look carefully at the inside of the nail along the freshly clipped edge. You will see a small gray or white dot near the middle of the nail. As you get closer to the quick, that dot becomes more visible and indicates it’s time to stop clipping.
The most important thing for a pet owner to do is to be calm. If you’re all worked up and nervous, your dog will sense your mood and become anxious as well. If you don’t think you can handle the task, it’s perfectly fine to offload nail clipping to a professional service, like a groomer or veterinarian’s office.
But, nail clipping is a frequent activity that’s relatively easy to do, and it’s a good opportunity to bond with your puppy so that they trust you as they grow older. But you have to be prepared for any potential accidents.