If you clip your dog’s nails at home you have to be extremely careful not to cut them back too far or you might nick the “quick” and cause the toenail to bleed. The quick is a blood and nerve vessel that is in the dog’s toe nail. Cutting the quick will cause the dog pain and will result in bleeding. The bleeding can be minimal or profuse. Either way, it can be scary for you and your dog.
Dogs can also rip a nail off by getting it caught in something. If you are not right there to assist, the dog will get scared and can risk pulling the nail out of their paw by thrashing around to get loose. A nail being ripped out can cause blood loss as well and should be attended to immediately to stop the bleeding.
My dog caught his toenail in the threads of the couch cushion. The couch is a woven fabric and somehow his toenail went through it. When he turned, he was caught. Before I could get to him and offer assistance, he jerked hard and was free, but his toenail remained behind. He was scared and I was even more scared when I saw the little bloody paw print on the floor.
If your dog has a toenail bleed, either from clipping them or from injuring them, the first thing you need to do is hold the paw under some warm running water to wash away the blood and assess the damage. Be sure to have a firm grip on the dog because he will be frightened and squirmy. Wrap an old washcloth or a paper towel around the toe and apply a bit of pressure.
The bleeding may stop on its own, but if it doesn’t you will have to stop it. There are commercial products you can use and it is a good idea to have them on hand as part of your dog’s first aid kit. Styptic pens or powder works well, as does Liquid Bandage for pets. Both of these have medicines in them that will help the clotting and will relieve the pain.
The pen needs to be ran under water and then dabbed onto the torn toe nail. The styptic powder can be sprinkled onto the injured toenail. You can get these at a pet supply store, or your local drug store. Styptic pens and powder are used for shaving cuts on humans so they are safe for your pet.
If you don’t have any of these things, or if you prefer, you can use a home remedy. Make a paste out of flour and water, or cornstarch and water and dab the paste onto the bleeding toenail with a cotton swab or a clean finger. Cayenne pepper can also be sprinkled on the toe bleed. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped within 20 minutes to a half hour, it is a good idea to call the vet for advice. If the bleeding stops, keep an eye on the paw to make sure it doesn’t get infected.
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