A Dog Nail Broke and the Quick is Exposed – What to Do?

Dog Broken Nail

It happens from time to time that the nail of a dog is separated from its quick, which can be really painful for the animal. This can be due to the nail being too long and getting caught on some object, or due to you cutting it with bad clippers that were far from sharp.

Regardless of the reason behind it, most dog owners won’t get away with at least once having to deal with the dog’s nail quick being exposed. So what can you do when this happens to your dog? Experts say that removing any broken parts of the nail should be a must, but not before going through nine very important steps to ensure that nothing bad will happen.

Very important! If you notice that your dog has other symptoms coupled with the exposed quick, like labored breathing, gagging, or vomiting, make sure you take him to the vet before doing anything else.

Nine Steps to Follow When Dealing with the Dog’s Broken Nail Having an Exposed Quick

  1. Check whether the toenail is bleeding. If it is, then compress the wound using a clean towel for around two minutes. When the dog’s quick is exposed, bleeding isn’t a rare occurrence. Compressing the wound will usually stop the bleeding.
  2. Put a muzzle on your dog. A dog’s first instinct when you start touching his exposed, cracked, or broken nail, especially when the quick can be seen or the wound is bleeding, might be to start biting, even though the pet might love you with all his heart. This is why it would be better if you either muzzle the dog beforehand or have someone hold his head down or at least in a different direction than you until you can properly inspect the area.
  3. Inspect the area. Try inspecting the affected area while touching it as little as possible. Use gentle movements to raise the paw and see the level of damage the nail has taken.
  4. If the nail is split down past the quick right in half, take the dog to a vet so that they can safely remove the nail. Almost anything you would try to do by yourself at this point will cause a lot of pain.
  5. When possible, remove the dangling nail. When doing this, be careful not to damage the quick. Usually, as you get closer to the center of the toenail, you will notice more white at its center. When you’re right above the quick, be very careful while you trim.
  6. As soon as you’re done removing the nail, get some cornstarch, flour, or styptic powder and place it on the wound to stop the bleeding. Most of the time it won’t be the case but based on your particular situation, you might have to compress it lightly for the bleeding to stop.
  7. Don’t squeeze on the toe or compress the paw. The pressure should only be applied to the wound itself. If you notice that the bleeding doesn’t stop within the next five to ten minutes, you might have to take your dog to the vet.
  8. Try to dab the wound quickly in warm water, Alternatively, you can sterilize it with a pet antiseptic.
  9. Apply a bandage to the wound and then watch over it for the next few days to make sure it is getting better.

According to experts, these are the signs you should look out for, that would give out an issue when dealing with a dog’s nail getting broken.

  • Bleeding mixed with puss.
  • Oozing puss
  • Toe swelling

Talk to your vet as soon as you notice any one of these symptoms.

Why use Styptic Powder on a Dog’s Nails

Styptic powder, as well as styptic pencils and gels, can be bought from pet stores and are usually used by veterinarians, as well as dog owners and groomers to stop bleeding. These products are usually made from ferric subsulfate, which is used to stop bleeding, and Benzocaine, a well-known topical anesthetic that eases the pain.

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Broken Nail Exposed QuickSome experts recommend that you make sure you have this product every time you prepare to cut your dog’s nails. It will be very useful when the nail either breaks or tears apart. Below you will find some guidelines for using styptic powders and pencils.

  1. Make sure you have the powder or pencil ready before starting the trimming process.
  2. Make sure you have some water close to you so that you can dip the tip of the pencil or your finger when working with the powder. Make sure you never lick your finger after getting powder on it. You should never lick the tip of the pencil either. This is so that you don’t contaminate it with your saliva.
  3. The next step is to dip the pencil into the water, or dip your finger in the water and then in the powder.
  4. Apply the styptic substance to the wound.
  5. Keep in mind that the first time the substance touches the wound it might sting, so the dog might react unexpectedly by either trying to pull the paw away or biting. This is why you should have your dog restrained and you have a strong grip on the paw.
  6. Before you let the dog move around, you should give the powder some time to coagulate properly.
  7. Some experts recommend that you continue to place moderate pressure on the cut for the next 30 seconds. Try not to squeeze the paw or compress it too strongly.
  8. If the bleeding continues, you can always reapply the powder.

Keep in mind that there are multiple brands of gels and powders you can choose between. Make sure you read up on their reviews to make sure you get one that has a lot of satisfied customers.

A lot of people ask whether using super glue on the nail of the dog can help it heal faster when it is broken or split. This isn’t something I recommend, as styptic powder works a lot better, especially when you follow the steps I outline above.

How to Prevent Nail Splitting

There is actually a great way of preventing your dog from getting his nails split. According to Embrace, if you keep your dog’s nails as short as possible, you will rarely have to deal with this issue. This is why cutting the nails of the dog in time is a great idea.

You can get your dog on board with the trimming process if you couple it with treats and snacks.

Although using snacks will help keep your dog’s attention away from you and the trimming action, you should still try to make sure you’re not cutting too close to the quick. Remember that each dog has his own personality, so this might work with some dogs, while it might fail miserably with others.


I have outlined above some of the best methods to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding when it is broken.

Keep in mind that if the broken nail is coupled with vomiting, especially after treatment, difficulty in breathing, puss leaking from the wound, or swollen toes, then it is vital that you take your dog to the vet before trying anything else.

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