Witnessing your dog bleeding and in pain can be a traumatic experience. As a dog owner, you need to be the one to take charge, remain calm, and stop the flow of blood so your dog can recover from the ordeal quickly.
Learning how to handle minor emergencies, like bleeding, and having the necessary supplies ready to tackle various situations is important for the welfare of your dog. He depends on you for his care as much as you depend on him for friendship, so let’s get you armed with what you need.
To Stop a Bleeding Dog Nail:
- Relax and remain calm.
- Apply light, even pressure using a clean rag or paper towel.
- Stop the bleeding with a blood coagulate such as styptic powder. If you don’t have that, the next best solutions are Cornstarch, Flour, or Baking powder.
Read on for more detailed information on stopping a bleed, proper nail care supplies, and a video showing how to safely trim dark and light-colored dog nails.
How to Stop a Dog’s Nail From Bleeding (Detailed Steps)
Whether your dog has injured his own claw or you accidentally trimmed a nail too short and nicked the quick, you’ll want to stop the bleeding as soon as you can.
Take a deep breath. There is no need to panic. Remember that your dog is pretty intuitive by nature. If he picks up on you panicking, he’ll likely become upset too, causing his heart to beat faster and make the bleeding worse. So, calm down and reassure your dog that everything will be okay.
The next thing to do is to lightly apply pressure with a clean rag, cotton ball, paper towel, or gauze pad to help stop the blood flow. Just be careful not to unintentionally squeeze the dog’s paw or toe as this will only make the bleeding worse and cause your dog more pain.
Note: If your dog has injured himself while playing outside, there is probably dirt or grit lodged in the nail that should be washed out with soapy water to prevent infection from developing. When the area appears clean, dry it off as best you can and proceed to the next step.
If bleeding persists, it’s time for one of those blood coagulating products. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they do their job. Let’s take a brief look at how to use the various clotting aids.
To use a styptic pencil or the smaller matchbook-style styptic pencils, wet the tip with a bit of water and lightly press it to the injured claw. That’s all there is to it.
When using styptic powder, don’t wipe away any blood first as it will help the powder adhere to the wound. Take a pinch of the powder and lightly press it directly onto the wound, or form a cup with your hand, add about 1/2 teaspoon of styptic powder, and dip the claw into the powder.
Styptic gel comes with an applicator tip so all you need to do is squeeze a bit of the gel directly onto the bleeding. Most styptic gels also have antiseptic ingredients to help guard against infection so no other treatment is necessary.
An easy-to-use roll-on liquid styptic like My Nik Is Sealed has a convenient rollerball applicator on top of the bottle. Just hold it angled downward while you roll it across the tip of the nail. This product contains soothing aloe and vitamin E and forms an invisible bandage over the wound as it dries.
Styptic gel swabs are single-use applicator swabs (like a Q-tip) that have been pretreated with a hemostatic gel to stop bleeding and benzocaine to relieve your dog’s pain. To use, you simply brush over the cut.
To use a hemostatic gauze pad, just press it lightly against the wound until the bleeding stops.
Note: Most styptic products do sting a bit when they are first applied, so be prepared for your dog to try to pull his paw away or whine a little as you treat the cut.
Stopping a Bleeding Nail with Things Around the House
In a pinch, many common household products can be used to get bleeding under control quickly. Try applying one of the following to the damaged nail:
- Baking powder.
- Scent-free soap.
- Moistened tea bag.
- Super Glue.
- Cayenne pepper.
- Witch hazel.
- Petroleum jelly.
- Baking soda.
Nail Care Supplies to Have on Hand
In the event of an emergency or before beginning a routine procedure like clipping your dog’s nails, it is wise to have a well-stocked pet first aid kit on hand. Having the proper tools for the job and treatment options in case of an accidental injury at your disposal will make the job easier.
Here are a few items that are great to have on standby before you attempt to give your dog a pedicure.
- A sturdy pair of nail clippers for dogs. They are designed to fit around both small and large claws and produce a quick, smooth cut with little effort.
- A pet nail grinder. These electric or battery-powered gadgets have a spinning grinder on top that gently sands away the claw instead of cutting it. They do produce a little noise, so it is best to acclimate your dog to the sound first before you get to work on the nails.
- Blood coagulating products like a styptic pencil or a styptic powder like Miracle Care Kwik Stop. These are designed to quickly stop bleeding from an injured claw. Even the tiny, matchbook-style styptic pencils designed for treating shaving nicks will work for a bleeding dog nail.
- A nail file for dogs. Sometimes clippers can leave behind ragged edges. A heavy-duty nail file designed for dog claws is useful to smooth out any rough areas to prevent snagging or breakage later on and to lightly shape a freshly clipped nail.
- Hemostatic gauze pads such as Celox Gauze. This type of gauze contains blood-clotting agents right on the gauze so all you need to do is apply one to the wound. These are terrific to keep on hand for your family too as they are capable of stopping even severe bleeding on both pets and people.
If you do not have any of the above products, there are combination packs available to save you money. A nail clipper and styptic powder combo will provide you with the basics to get started.
There are also combo packs that include a nail grinder, clipper, and file to tackle any nail trimming situation.
- Wondering how styptic products work? Well, most contain aluminum sulfate (often referred to as alum) as a key ingredient. The alum constricts injured tissue to seal shut damaged blood vessels and stop the bleeding. Some also contain a pain stopping agent or an antiseptic ingredient as well.
Safely Clipping Your Dog’s Nails
Many dog owners choose to trim their dog’s nails at home rather than paying to have them done at the Vet or by a groomer. Knowing how to properly clip your dog’s nails can help reduce the chances of injuring them during the process.
It may be a little old, but this video does a great job of showing you exactly what to do.
How to Trim a Dog’s Nails to Avoid Bleeding
Before you attempt to clip your dog’s nails for the first time, you’ll want to let him get used to having his feet handled. The pads of a dog’s foot have lots of nerve receptors, and most dogs don’t enjoy the sensation of a person holding their feet so be patient and offer treats as he learns to tolerate your touch.
Desensitizing your furry buddy to the sound that clippers (or a nail grinder if you prefer) make is important too. You want the entire nail clipping experience to be as stress-free as possible.
While relaxing with your dog, squeeze the clippers (or turn on the grinder) occasionally. When he’s okay with the noise, gently touch the clippers to his nails without trimming anything. You just want him to learn that the whole process really isn’t that big a deal.
Tip: Begin accustoming your dog to the nail trimming routine as soon as possible, ideally while he’s still a puppy, and he’ll soon be a pro.
When you reach the point that your dog is no longer anxious about having his feet handled or fearful of the clippers, it’s time for his first pedicure.
Gently, but firmly, hold the paw in your non-dominant hand and lightly push on the pad of the first claw to extend the claw.
Examine the nail closely. You’ll be able to easily see the pink nail quick on light colored nails. For dark nails, you’ll need to clip off just a sliver at a time. After each cut, check the end of the nail for a whitish or gray dot. Once that dot is visible, you’ll want to stop clipping as the dot indicates the end of the quick.
Hold the clippers (or grinder) underneath and perpendicular to the paw. Aim for a 45-degree angle as you clip. Keep in mind that the quick typically extends out to the point where the nail starts to curve downward.
For light-colored claws, go ahead and clip the nail just beyond the end of the quick, and file down any rough edges.
For dark colored claws, remove the tip, and then work sliver by sliver until that whitish dot appears. Smooth out the rough edges with a dog nail file before moving on to the next one.
Tip: Talk softly to your dog during his pedicure and offer treats to distract him. Don’t worry if you’re only able to finish a nail or two on your first few attempts. Take a break and try again later. A stress-free experience is more important than speed here.
If your dog has had a traumatic experience with nail clipping in the past or is super sensitive about his feet being touched, we found a product that might interest you. The DiggerDog Nail File is a hands-free alternative to traditional nail trimming. This product stimulates a dog’s instinct to dig, rewards him with food, and files down the more problematic front nails at the same time.
So, Do Dogs Have Nails or Claws?
Though the terms are often used interchangeably (even here), technically, dogs have “claws”.
Human nails are made of a hardened protein called keratin and grow out from the tips of the fingers and toes, not from the bones.
Dogs’ claws are also comprised of keratin but grow out directly from the end of the phalanx bones of the paw. Another key difference is that claws contain nerves and blood vessels, unlike human nails. This internal network of living tissue is what is known as the quick of the nail.
What Causes Dog Claws to Bleed?
When the quick is exposed or damaged, bleeding occurs, and the dog feels pain. So, what commonly causes this to happen?
Injury From Everyday Activities
Dogs can easily damage their own claws by simply doing things that dogs love to do, like dashing across the yard after a ball, digging a hole, or walking and running on hard pavement.
Weak or previously damaged claws, in particular, are more prone to damage. For instance, a chipped nail can snag on the carpet, and when the dog attempts to pull away, the claw may be broken off below the quick.
The chances of inadvertently injuring a claw are much greater when the claws are overgrown. The longer they are, the less overall strength they have, and breakage can easily occur. Overgrown claws can also reduce the paw’s normal traction and cause the toes to unnaturally spread apart with every step leading to tendon damage over time.
Claws that frequently chip or break may be on the brittle side. This can point to a nutrient deficiency. A high-quality vitamin supplement may help strengthen the nails to prevent future damage.
Mistakes When Trimming the Nails
Accidentally trimming a claw too short is the most common cause of nail bleeding, and many well-meaning dog owners have been down this road at least once.
While it is fairly easy to see the quick on white or light-colored claws, with dark or black claws it’s a bit more of a guessing game. We’ll give you some tips on how to avoid this unfortunate mistake below.
A lot of people are not aware that oftentimes the longer the nail is, the farther down the nail the quick tends to grow. Pet parents see the long nail and assume that most of it should be clipped off. The result? The steady drip, drip, drip of blood.