How to Clean a Dog's Broken Nail

Easy
5 - 15 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Broken nails can be painful and dangerous. Your dog can break his nails by merely walking or playing. Keeping those paws well groomed can help to prevent cracks and breaks. 

When a nail does break it could potentially break a couple of different ways. Either it will spit, leaving an open nail and exposed quick, or it could snap at an angle. Both of these breaks could snag carpet, bedding, furniture, and even grass, causing more pain and bleeding.

Many toe injuries cause excessive bleeding and cleaning is imperative to inspect the entire paw and to assess and treat the injury. 

Dog's Perspective

Your dog is in some pain and discomfort with a broken nail. If there is blood, the quick has been exposed. After initial clean up, stopping this blood will help determine if other toe injuries are hurting your little guy.

The Water and Trim Method

Effective
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Nail Clipper
Towel
Step
1
Rinse
Pour lukewarm water over the nail to rinse any debris and blood off the nail.
Step
2
Control bleeding
Use styptic powder or baking soda and pressure to control the bleeding if any.
Step
3
Trim
If the nail is split or hanging loose but still connected, it may need to be trimmed. Once the bleeding has stopped, carefully clip the nail that is loose. Be careful of the quick if it is exposed, so you don’t clip it.
Step
4
Rinse again
Once the nail is trimmed and safe from snags and additional tears, rinse the nail again with warm water. This will clean out any debris.
Step
5
Keep clean
You’ll want to keep an eye on the nail and keep it clean by rinsing twice a day. Look for swelling and redness, and if you see signs of infection, call your veterinarian.
Recommend grooming method?

The Clean and Wrap Method

Effective
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Nail Clipper
Step
1
Stop bleeding
If the nail is bleeding, stop the bleeding by applying pressure. If you have styptic powder on hand, this will help stop the bleeding.
Step
2
Clean
Using a saline solution or water and a mild soap, clean the injury. Try not to use a cotton swab or gauze as fibers may embed into the nail. Pour your saline solution over the nail to clean. Keep doing this until blood, dirt, and debris are all rinsed off.
Step
3
Cut
If there are any parts of the nail needing cut to avoid snagging, gently cut these. Avoid cutting the quick as this will cause more bleeding.
Step
4
Ointment
Apply an antibacterial ointment to the nail to assist with bacterial growth.
Step
5
Wrap
Wrap the paw with gauze and tape to keep your dog from licking it.
Step
6
Check
Each day, unwrap and check the nail for healing and potential infection. It should not appear red, puffy, or swollen. Each day it should look better than the day before. After unwrapping it each day, pour saline solution over the nail and apply antibacterial ointment before wrapping again.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Because of the amount of bleeding a broken toenail could cause, broken nails are commonly seen in the animal emergency rooms. 
  • Cleaning as much of the nail as you can at home could save you a trip to the animal hospital or ER, which, in turn, could save you money as well. 
  • As with other wounds, hold pressure to the area to stop or control the bleeding. 
  • With slower blood flow, a styptic powder or even baking soda can help stop the bleeding. 
  • Once you have cleaned the nail, you’ll need to assess the nail and cut or wrap it as it heals so it doesn’t continue to snag while your dog walks.
  • Your dog will want to lick the area. You can allow a bit of licking to satisfy his instinct, but don’t allow him to over lick and do not allow licking at all if you are applying ointments and creams.
  • Watch for potential infections. 
  • Redness, swelling, or pus are indicators the nail might be infected, and a trip to your veterinarian might be required.
  • With time and attention in most cases, the nail should regrow within a few weeks. 

Conclusion

Try not to panic if you see your dog's paw bleeding. Though he might have an injury on a paw pad or toe, he might also be dealing with a split or broken nail which can bleed a lot. Getting it cleaned up before assessing the damage is the hardest part, so remain calm and get started.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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