How to Stop a Dog's Nail Quick from Bleeding

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

How to Stop a Dog's Nail Quick from Bleeding

Owning pets often comes with its fair share of surprises. One of the not-so-pleasant surprises is dog nail bleeding. A dog's nail starts bleeding due to injuring overgrown nails in an overzealous playtime or by an accidental snip during nail trimming. Seeing your dog's nail bleed can be distressing

If this is a concern for you, take a deep breath and calm down! In this guide, we'll equip you with the knowledge and confidence to handle the situation. We'll delve into the intricacies of dog nails, from understanding the dog's nail bed and blood vessels to how to stop a dog's nail from bleeding.

We'll also go over important tips for keeping your dog's nails healthy and how you can avoid nail bleeds. Always keep in mind that accidents do occur, but with the correct information, and if you stay calm, you can handle the situation until the bleeding stops.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Dog's Nail

To understand how to stop a dog's nail from bleeding, it's crucial to have a good grasp of the anatomy of a dog's nail. Dog's nails are more than just hard coverings; they are intricate structures with various components. Let's break it down:

image of a small dog's paws

The Quick

The "quick" is the living tissue inside the dog's nail. It contains blood vessels and nerve endings.

It appears as a pinkish or reddish area within the dog's nails. In dogs with light-colored nails, it's more visible than in those with dark nails.

The Cuticle

The cuticle, also known as the "nail bed," is the base of the nail where it attaches to the dog's toenail. It's where nail growth originates and is essential for a dog's nail health.

Blood Vessels and Nerve Endings

Blood vessels run through the quick, supplying them with nutrients and oxygen. Nerve endings in the quick provide sensory information to your dog's toe just like for human nails.

How Injuries Occur

Dog nail bleeding can happen when dog nails are cut too close to the quick, causing them to bleed.

Trauma such as snagging overgrown nails on something sharp or heavy can expose soft tissue causing injury to a dog's nail.

Quick Exposure and Bleeding

When the quick is exposed or injured, it can result in bleeding. Quick exposure can occur during nail trimming if you cut too close to it.

In some cases, the quick can recede with regular, careful nail trims, making it less likely to bleed.

Understanding the different parts of a dog's nails and how they function is essential for preventing injuries and effectively managing bleeding.

dog paw laying down

Causes of Dog's Nail Injuries

Accidents can happen to even the most careful dog parents. Understanding the various causes of a dog's nail injuries is the first step in preventing a dog's nail from bleeding. Here are some common reasons why your pup's nail might start bleeding:

Accidental Trauma

Dogs are curious creatures, and they can inadvertently catch a nail on objects like furniture, fences, or even their playmates. This sudden tug can lead to dog nail injuries that can cause dog nail bleeding.

Overgrown or Excessively Long Dogs Nails

Neglecting nail maintenance can result in overgrown dog nails that are more prone to splitting or snagging. Long dog nails can also affect your dog's gait and overall comfort. You should trim your dog's nails regularly.

Improper Dog Nail Trimming Techniques

While regular dog nail trims are essential, improper techniques, such as cutting nails too close to the quick, can cause bleeding. It's crucial to know where and how to trim dog nails safely.

Additionally, use the proper dog nail trimmers, which you can purchase in pet stores.

Injury During Play or Exercise

Dogs love to run, jump, and play, but all that activity can sometimes lead to accidents. A sudden twist or landing can injure a dog's nail, causing bleeding.

Medical Conditions Affecting Nail Health

Certain medical conditions, such as fungal infections, tumors, or autoimmune disorders, can weaken the nails' structure, making them more susceptible to injury.

Understanding these potential causes will help you take proactive steps to prevent dog nail injuries in the first place. However, if dog nail bleeding nail does occur, don't worry. We'll guide you through the steps to quickly and effectively stop dog nail bleeding and ensure your dog's comfort and well-being.

dog paws on the road

Signs and Symptoms of a Bleeding Nail

Understanding the signs and symptoms of a bleeding nail in dogs is key to taking swift action and ensuring their comfort. Here are some common indicators to watch out for:

Visible Bleeding

The most obvious sign is, of course, the sight of blood. If you see blood coming from your dog's nail, it's a clear indication of an injury.

Limping or Favoring One Paw

Dogs are resilient, but a bleeding nail can cause them discomfort. If your dog suddenly starts limping or favoring one paw, it could be due to nail pain.

Whining or Yelping in Pain

Dogs may vocalize their pain. If your dog is whining or yelping, pay close attention to the affected paw.

Excessive Licking of the Injured Paw

Dogs often lick their wounds as a natural response to injury. If your dog is obsessively licking one paw, it might signal a problem.

Swelling or Redness Around the Nail

Inflammation can accompany a nail injury. If you notice swelling or redness around the affected nail, it's a sign that something isn't right.

It's important to remember that every dog is unique, and their response to pain may vary. Some dogs may stoically endure the discomfort, while others may be more vocal or visibly distressed. As a loving dog parent, staying vigilant and recognizing these signs can help you provide timely care and alleviate their suffering.

Now that you're aware of the telltale signs of a bleeding nail, let's move on to the practical steps you can take to address the issue swiftly and effectively, ensuring a quick return to those happy, wagging tails.

How to Stop Dog Nail Bleeding

What should we do the moment we realize our furry friend has a bleeding toe? Let's take a look.

Stay Calm and Apply Pressure

Staying calm is not just for you; it's for your dog's comfort too.

Dogs can sense your anxiety, so your composure helps keep them relaxed. To keep your dog calm, speak in soothing tones. Use treats and positive reinforcement to reward their cooperation

Apply pressure to the bleeding nail to stop or reduce the bleeding. Use a clean piece of cloth to apply direct pressure, a paper towel for minor bleeding, or gauze to slow bleeding. Determine the extent of the injury to decide the next action. The nail cut can cause minor bleeding or result in a dog's nail bleeding badly. Ensure the bleeding stops before proceeding.

Immediate First Aid for A Dog's Nail

When you're faced with the sight of blood flow from your dog's nail, swift action is key. Here's what you need to do in those critical moments:

  1. Using Styptic Powder

Styptic powder is your go-to solution to help stop bleeding.

Gently dip the bleeding end of the nail into the styptic powder or apply it using a cotton swab. Hold it in place for about 30 seconds so that the styptic powder can stop blood flow by making the blood clot.

  1.  Applying Styptic Pencil

A styptic pencil works similarly to styptic powder but comes in a convenient stick form.

Moisten the tip and apply it to the bleeding area. Maintain gentle pressure for about half a minute until a bleeding toenail is contained.

  1. Home Remedies 

If you don't have styptic powder or pencil on hand, stay calm and turn to household items.

Dip the bleeding nail into a mixture of cornstarch or baking soda and water to help stop the bleeding. These home remedies help to stop dog nail bleeding before proper care can be administered and work as well as styptic powder.

Now that you've learned how to address the immediate issue, we'll move on to post-injury care and measures to prevent dog's nails from bleeding.

dog lawing down sticking his paw out

Aftercare and Preventive Measures

Once you've successfully stopped bleeding from your dog's nail, the next crucial steps ensure your furry friend's comfort and future dog's toe health. 

  1. Cleaning the Wound

Gently clean the injured dog nail with a clean, cotton ball or wet tea bag. Use mild, scent-free soap if necessary, but ensure it's thoroughly rinsed off to prevent irritation on the nail cut. This step helps remove any remaining styptic powder or blood residue.

  1. Providing Comfort

You can offer treats and positive reinforcement to help create a positive association with the experience, making future nail care easier.

Additionally, keep your dog calm and relaxed after the ordeal. Avoid any further activities that could cause stress or discomfort and keep your pup in a safe and quiet space for recuperation.

  1. Monitor for Infection

After stopping the bleeding, you need to observe your dog for any signs of infection. Keep a watchful eye on the affected nail for any signs of infection. Look for redness, swelling, or pus around the nail.

If you notice any concerning symptoms or if the bleeding persists, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Some injuries may require professional attention or antibiotics to prevent infection.

black background, person and dog touching hands

Tips for Preventing Dog's Nails Bleeding

Preventing dog nail bleeding is not only possible but also highly advisable. Here are some valuable tips to keep your dog's nails in top shape and avoid those accidental bleeds.

  1. Regular Nail Maintenance

Determine how often your dog's nails need trimming based on their breed and activity level.

Maintain a regular schedule for trimming nails, and always have styptic powder nearby for nail trims.

Moreover, you should invest in the right tools for nail trimming, such as clippers or grinders. Learn how to use them correctly to avoid injuring the quick.

  1. Learning the Anatomy

Familiarize yourself with the anatomy of a dog's nails, particularly the quick. Knowing where the quick is located will help you avoid cutting too close using dog nail clippers.

Additionally, take note of the differences in nail types, such as black nails versus white nails. Black nails may require extra care as it's harder to see the quick.

  1. Exercise and Play

Ensure your dog gets enough exercise to naturally wear down their nails. Regular walks, playtime, and running around help maintain nail health.

Additionally, mental stimulation through puzzle toys and interactive games can reduce anxiety. Anxious dogs are more likely to resist nail trimming.

  1. Grooming Routine

Regularly bathe and clean your dog's feet. A clean dog nail is less likely to harbor debris that can cause injury.

Also inspect your dog's paws for splinters, thorns, or foreign objects after outdoor activities. Removing these hazards prevents injury.

  1. Training Your Dog

Train your dog to be comfortable with a nail trim from a young age. You can gradually introduce them to the tools such as nail clippers and sensations associated with nail care.

Also, try to make nail trimming a positive experience by offering treats and praise. It will be easier to get the dog's nails clipped.

  1. Professional Grooming

Consider professional grooming to trim your dog's nails if you're uncomfortable with DIY nail trim. Groomers and vets are skilled at handling difficult dogs and those scared of dog nail clippers. Regular professional care can help keep your dog's nails healthy and nails trimmed.

By implementing these tips, you'll reduce the chances of your dog's nails bleeding and ensure your dog's overall paw health and comfort. Prevention is the key to keeping dogs nails in shape.

Being Prepared for Nail Emergencies

While it's impossible to predict when a nail emergency might occur, being prepared can make all the difference. Here's what you can do to be ready:

  1. Assemble a First Aid Kit

Create a dedicated pet first aid kit that includes essential supplies like styptic powder, gauze, cotton balls, antiseptic wipes, and bandages to stop dog nail bleeding. You can buy the kit at a pharmacy or pet store and keep it easily accessible in your home to come to your dog's quick aid.

  1.  Practice Calmness and Composure

Practice deep breathing and stay calm, so you can reassure your dog and make rational decisions, allowing you to handle your dog's bleeding nail easily.

  1. Keep Emergency Contact Information Handy

Have your veterinarian's contact information and the nearest emergency veterinary clinic's details readily available.

finger touching a dog's paw

Final Thoughts

Dog nail bleeding can cause panic and concern for many dog parents. However, now that you've armed yourself with the knowledge and strategies provided in this guide, you know how to stop a dog's nail from bleeding and can confidently navigate the bloody mess like a seasoned pro.

As a responsible dog parent, you hold the key to your dog's paw health. Following the tips provided in this guide, will not only ensure the well-being of your loyal companion but also strengthen the bond between you. 

Remember, while accidents may happen, your knowledge and preparedness will transform any bleeding nail into a minor inconvenience, allowing your furry friend to continue wagging their tail with joy. Here's to many more happy and pain-free paw days ahead!


  1. Yin, S. (2007). Simple handling techniques for dogs. Compendium, 352-358.

  2. Buzby, J. (2022, January 27). Dog toenail anatomy 101. Toe Grips.


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Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.
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