Dog owner trimming his dog's nails with Wahl nail clippers.

How to Treat Dog Nail Bleeding During Trimming

Share via

What to do when you’ve cut your dog’s nails too short

Perhaps no other home grooming activity is dreaded more by both owner and pet than cutting a dog’s nails. The task seems simple enough, particularly with the wide array of nail clippers now available, but the procedure can go terribly wrong with one misplaced snip, leaving a dog skittish and reluctant to allow you near their feet again.

If you mistakenly cut into the quick – or vein and nerve that runs into every nail – this will result in bleeding, which can damage carpets, furniture and, most importantly, your dog’s much-needed trust in your home grooming capabilities.

Don’t fret. Even experienced and cautious home groomers have accidentally cut the quick while trimming their dog’s nails and faced dog nail bleeding. It’s easy to mistakenly cut a dog’s nails too short, particularly if the nails are black or dark in color. Dogs with white or light nails often have a visible quick, making it more obvious where to avoid clipping. It’s not so simple when you can’t see it.

So, what’s done is done. You’ve cut into the quick and your dog’s nail is bleeding. Now what? Here are some tips on how to stop dog nail bleeding.

  • 1

    Be prepared

    Along with having your dog nail clipper or nail grinder and treats to associate nail clipping with something good, you’ll want to have some dry cloths, bandages and something to stop the bleeding. The easiest and most effective solution is styptic powder, which is an anti-hemorrhagic agent that stops light wounds from bleeding. You can buy this at most major pet stores and pharmacies. If you don’t have styptic powder on hand, you can use a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda.

  • 2

    Stay calm

    Our dogs can sense anxiety and fear, so while cutting into their quick will startle them and cause some pain, the best thing you can do is to remain calm. Console your dog and let them know they’re going to be alright. Use a loving, comforting tone and give them a treat.

  • 3

    Compress the wound

    Wrap a cloth around the affected area for at least two minutes. If the bleeding is minor, try rubbing a bar of clean, scent-free soap over it. If the bleeding is steady, wrapping ice within the compressed cloth or paper towel will help lessen the blood flow. If you have an extra set of hands, have someone help to wipe up any blood that may be on the carpet or furniture, so it doesn’t stain.

  • 4

    Apply styptic powder

    Cup your hand and pour some styptic powder or cornstarch with baking soda into your palm. Gently dip the dog’s bleeding nail into the powder, repeating if the bleeding doesn’t come to an immediate stop. Don’t wipe away the blood before dipping because it will aid coagulation. Be cautioned, however, that styptic powder will provide an initial sting, so be prepared to hold onto your dog firmly while applying.

  • 5

    Bandage the wound

    Once bleeding does cease, continue to compress the wound with a cloth, being cautious not to squeeze the paw. Try to keep your dog off their feet for at least 30 minutes. Once you are sure your dog’s nail bleeding has stopped, wash the affected nail with lukewarm water and apply a bandage to prevent licking and infection.

  • 6

    Seek veterinary care

    If your dog’s nail bleeding cannot be controlled after 20 – 30 minutes, proper clotting is not taking place and a veterinarian should be consulted immediately. Also consult a vet if your dog’s toe later becomes red, swollen or does not appear to be improving after a few days.

Your Questions About Dog Nail Bleeding:

How can you avoid dog nail bleeding?
The general rule of thumb is to clip up to the point where the nail makes a defined curve down towards the floor. Don’t cut too far beyond that or you could snip the quick. Keep in mind that the longer you allow the nails to grow, the longer the quick may grow, as well.

We recommend cutting a little at a time and inspecting the nail to determine how close you are to the quick. For dogs with white nails, the quick will appear pink. For dogs with black nails, the quick will appear black. However, at first glance, it will be difficult to see the quick on black nails until after you’ve cut some of the nail. Once you trimmed a little off, the outer shell of the nail should be chalky white and you’ll begin to see the quick as a dark spot in the center.

How do you stop dog nail bleeding without styptic powder?
Several home remedies can work, depending on the severity of the bleeding. A mix of cornstarch and baking soda is recommended if you don’t have styptic powder. Another option is to rub a clean bar of scent-free soap or a wet tea bag on the nail at the spot of lesser bleeding. No home remedy, however, will be as instantly effective as a styptic powder.

Should you continue to trim your dog’s nails after a nail bleeding incident?
Experiencing a bleeding nail can be a traumatic event for your dog, so it’s best to wait at least a day to resume trimming the other nails. Make sure to comfort them and give them encouragement and treats after the incident so they don’t associate the whole experience as bad. This will help to make things easier the next time you try cutting their nails.

Please visit the pet grooming section for additional information on dog care tips and products for grooming, clipping, trimming, and bathing your pet.

View All Pet Grooming Articles

What to use