First Aid for Broken Nails
Torn toe nails can be very painful if the break or tear involves the sensitive quick area. The quick is the pink part of the nail nearest the toe that contains the vessels and nerves. Other than being painful, broken nails involving the quick can also bleed a lot. Here are some tips to help control the bleeding and reduce the pain of a broken nail.
1. Have a friend hold your dog while you check the paws and nails.
Broken nails can be so painful even the best-behaved dogs may try to bite, so if possible, place a muzzle on your pup for maximum safety. Have your friend give your dog a firm hug around the neck and gently press your dog against their chest or stomach area to have better control of the head as you check the paws.
2. If the nail is bleeding, apply firm pressure with a towel or clean cloth for up to 10 minutes.
Try to remain calm and keep your pup calm. If you get upset, your dog will get upset, and this can raise their blood pressure making the bleeding worse. You can apply pressure to the entire paw if this is more comfortable for your dog.
3. If the nail doesn’t stop bleeding with pressure, apply styptic powder.
You can get this from the pet store or styptic pens from a drug store. You can also apply corn starch or flour to the bleeding area, and continue to hold pressure for another 5 minutes. This should stop the bleeding.
4. Now that the bleeding has stopped, you can better evaluate the nail.
If there is just a small broken hang nail present, you can trim that back at home and see if that makes your dog comfortable again. If the break is higher up in the nail, exposing the pink quick or at the nail bed (where the nail and toe join together), you should bring your dog to the vet to get the nail trimmed back.
5. Only wrap the paw with the broken nail with a towel, sock, or doggy booty.
Do not use tape or ace bandages as these can tighten down, causing pain, swelling, and reduced blood flow to the paw and create a whole new set of problems.
6. Bring your dog to the vet if you have any concerns.
If you do have to go to the vet, they will likely give your dog a sedative or local nerve block of the digit to control the pain before trimming back the broken part of the nail. The nail can be trimmed back without any pain medication, but it’s going to really hurt, and your dog may never trust the vet again.
Nails that are broken into the quick are also at risk for developing infections that can progress to infection in the bone if left untreated. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat or deter an infection from developing.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your pet's broken nails or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.