How to Cut a Dog's Broken Nail

15 - 30 Minutes
1 Day


Chances are good that at some point in time, your pooch is going to break a nail. While Lucy can't turn to you and say "Oh no! I broke a nail!", you should keep an eye out for any visible signs of limping. A broken toenail can be very painful for Lucy and could lead to an expensive vet bill if not taken care of properly. The nail might just be cracked, ripped and bleeding, or even bent back at a painful 90 degrees. It can happen during a walk, during playtime, or during any other activity that could lead to her nails being snagged and damaged. 

Dog's Perspective

The last thing Lucy wants to deal with is a broken nail, especially if it isn't causing her any pain. But when it is painful or bleeding, she is going to come to you for help. Keep in mind, there are three distinct types of broken nail: completely broken, ripped off and bleeding, broken or cracked, but still loosely attached, and broken or cracked and firmly attached. No matter the type, they all should be dealt with quickly.

Caution & Considerations

  • Be very careful when trimming broken nails, as you could cause Lucy pain. If necessary, you may want to take her to a professional groomer if you're uncertain whether or not you could manage to treat the nail properly. 
  • Be sure you have a styptic pen or powder for treating a bleeding quick on hand as there is a good chance you are going to cut into the quick at least once.
  • Always use the right type of nail cutters. This means using side cutters for small nails and guillotine style for thicker nails.
  • Wash the damaged nail thoroughly. Dry it off, and apply an antibiotic ointment to the nail and then bandage it to reduce the risk of infection. Remember all of these essential steps as skipping them may result in injury.
  • Change the bandage daily to keep the wound as clean as possible. Even if the bandage seems clean, replace it to prevent any chance of infection. 
  • If you see any signs of drainage or pus, take Lucy directly to the nearest animal emergency room to get it treated. 


Dealing with a broken nail is not that much different than keeping nails groomed on a regular basis. The biggest differences you may notice are Lucy limping or acting like the foot is causing her significant pain. The important thing to keep in mind is that not taking care of a broken or cracked nail is sure to lead to infection, so use plenty of antibiotic spray and bandages until her toe is healed. 

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