How To Stop A Dog’s Nail From Bleeding in 3 Simple Steps
So you’ve taken the plunge and attempted to cut your dog’s nails yourself. Maybe you’re even a seasoned pro with a well-behaved dog that lovingly hands over their paw when you’re ready to groom them. The dream!
Even the most seasoned nail clippers out there can have accidents. So the first thing is not to panic! This guide will show you how to stop a dog's nail from bleeding as quickly as possible. It depends of course on the nature of the injury so let’s dive into the steps.
Steps To Take If Your Dogs Nail Is Bleeding
Step 1: Is Your Dog in Distress?
This is the first and crucial step to treating your dog’s injury. If your dog’s nail is bleeding after cutting it, you might find that your dog is not freaking out that much.
Why? Well if your dog’s nails haven’t been clipped for a long time the nail can grow differently. Usually, you can tell where the soft fleshy part of your dog’s nail is because of the way the nail curves. That part is called the “quick”. (1) Typically the nail starts to curve and narrow after the quick and you can see it semi-clearly. However, after a long time without cutting, the nail doesn’t taper the same way and you may find it easier to nip the quick.
As the nail is hardened, your dog may only have a short reaction. I once hit the quick of my dog when clipping and she winced but didn’t fuss. It wasn’t a particularly deep cut. I imagine it was like stubbing her toe. Unpleasant but short and quick.
Related: What To Do If Your Dog Has Nail Problems.
On the other hand, if you have cut a dog’s nails too short and sliced into the quick quite deeply, that can hurt. Imagine ripping your nail open. Ouch! Your dog may be whimpering or panicking. Your first port of call is to calm them down as much you can. Use a soothing voice and pet them. Don’t let your dog run off with a bleeding paw. Keep them near until you can treat the wound.
Step 2a: Use Styptic Powder
We're going to discuss two methods of how to stop a dog nail bleeding. The first is the most common and perhaps not always accessible. Styptic powder is like magic. You can buy it on Amazon or in most local pet shops.
The full name for styptic powder is ferric subsulfate. Essentially a derivative of iron and sulphur combined. It works by concealing the exposed wound and sealing broken blood vessels which stops the bleeding. Some brands also include a mild topical anaesthetic to the formula to stop the pain.
To use styptic powder, you can press some on with a clean finger or tip some of the powder into the cap of the product and dip your dog’s nail in. Then apply some pressure to the nail and the bleeding should stop within 30seconds. Depending on how much the nail is bleeding, you may have to apply more styptic powder.
This is a safe and well-used method to stop your dog’s nail bleeding after cutting the quick. Many professional groomers and vets use styptic powder to stop bleeding.
Step 2b: Homemade Remedies
Let’s say you don’t have the magic powder to hand to stop the nail from bleeding. How can you use household products to do the job?
There are a few home remedies you can try, though the styptic powder is the most efficient. Try and always keep it to hand when you’re cutting your dog’s nails.
A bar of soap can be helpful in sealing the bleeding nail. To work, you need to soften the bar until it’s mushy. Pinch off some of the soap and press it onto the nail for a few minutes. Around 5 minutes should work. Or just hold it in place until the bleeding stops.
Cornstarch has the same coagulant properties as styptic powder and you likely already have some in the pantry. Win-win! You can mix it with baking soda too for some antiseptic properties. Place the mix of powders into the palm of your hand and dip your dog’s nail into it. Apply pressure to the wound for around 2 minutes or until the nail stops bleeding.
Ice can constrict the blood flow and slow the bleeding. Using a cold pack of ice cubes or a wrapped ice cube in a paper towel or cloth directly on the nail does two things. First, it’ll slow the bleeding which will enable you time to get hold of one of the other remedies without too much blood loss. Secondly, it numbs the pain if your dog is in distress.
Again, I must stress that clotting powder is always the better way to go, but these at-home remedies will help in an emergency!
Step 3: To Continue Or Not To Continue?
That is the question! If you cut the last nail and it started bleeding, your job after the bleeding has stopped is simply to keep consoling your dog. Reward them with praise and cuddles. You don’t want them to associate nail clipping with pain or distress. Although, admittedly, they may be a bit timider going forward. That’s okay. You can build up their confidence again over time. You can use paw-handling games and techniques such as “give paw” and “high fives” to build up their trust in you again.
“You can teach your dog to be happy having their paws touched. Remember, be patient and kind during these games and let your dog learn at their own pace. You are aiming to grow trust and confidence in your dog, and that takes time.” - Sophie Jackson for Pet Helpful (2)
But what do you do if you have more nails to clip? Do you let your dog run off and quite literally lick their wounds?
Well, this is up to you. But generally, we advise continuing to clip your dog’s nails carefully until the job is done. Get the bleeding nail to stop and calmly continue, showering your dog with praise as you do so. This will cement the nail care experience as a positive one overall. Instead of leaving the session with a bleeding nail and feelings hurt, you’ll mask the bleeding nail by confidently clipping the other nails with no accidents. That’ll help restore trust with your dog much faster.
Final Thoughts: Mistakes Happen, Be Prepared
You have likely snagged your nail once or twice in your life. It’s also natural to make mistakes when clipping your dog’s nails. Hopefully, this only happens once but don’t beat yourself up for injuring your dog. They will recover and we hope these tips give you the confidence to handle the bleeding dog nail emergency as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This article was written on the assumption you have cut your dog’s nail too far and it’s bleeding. However, there are other reasons your dog’s nail may be bleeding. They could've snagged and nail and it has ripped on something. Your dog could also have a splinter in or around their nail.
- Meyers, H. November 12, 2020. “How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails Safely”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved December 27, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-to-trim-dogs-nails-safely/
- Jackson, S. February 14, 2020. “How to Take the Stress Out of Grooming Your Dog's Paws”. Pet Helpful. Retrieved December 27, 2021. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-to-Take-the-Stress-Out-of-Grooming-Your-Dogs-Paws