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What To Do When Your Dog Breaks Their Nail

Broken toenails are a common injury that our canine friends experience. With their paws meeting everything from grass to rugged terrain, it only makes sense that their toenails take the hit at times. So what do you do when your dog breaks their nail?

In this article we’ll discuss the details of broken toenails in dogs, and help you understand how to act when it happens.

Why Do Dogs' Nails Break?

Most dogs will have 5 toes on their front paws, and 4 on their back paws. The front toe referred to as the dew claw will be removed on some puppies early in life, but not all furry friends will have this procedure performed.

Similar to you and I, a dog’s nails are constantly growing. If a dog is unable to keep their nails filed by walking on hard surfaces, their nails can grow to the point of being a bit of a nuisance. With their paws coming in contact with materials ranging from carpet to weeds, their nails can easily become snagged along the way.

Even if we keep our dog’s nails trimmed, they can still experience nail injuries from minor trauma to the area. Dogs can get their nails snagged on carpet, crack their nails when jumping, damage their nails while digging, and more. No matter the cause behind your dog’s nail trauma, it is a painful injury that should always be taken seriously.

Why Are Dog’s Broken Nails A Problem?

A broken nail in our canine friends should always be taken seriously. Not only is this injury extremely painful for even the toughest of pups, but it can lead to a few complications if it is not addressed. While we may only see the tough keratin exterior of the dog nail, there is much more to it than that.

Within the nail is a collection of nerves and blood vessels referred to as the quick. This is the pointed structure you may see in clear dog nails, and the part that bleeds when a dog’s nail is cut too short. While the keratin part of the nail is not living tissue, the quick certainly is. Not only is the quick a sensitive structure that can cause extreme discomfort when exposed, it is also attached to bone. This means any infection of the quick can quickly lead to a potential bone infection as well.

Depending on the severity of the nail injury, your dog can experience different levels of pain. If the quick is exposed and they are forced to put pressure on the paw, you may notice them limping and hesitating to put weight on that paw. You may also notice your dog constantly licking the injured area, which can open them up to the potential of further irritation and infection.

As you can see, a broken nail is much more serious for your pup than you might have imagined. So what can you do when this happens to your dog? Let’s dive in.

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What To Do If Your Dog Has Broken A Nail

Due to the potential for pain and infection from a nail injury, we always suggest contacting your vet for further care. However, if you have just noticed the injury at home, there are a few things you can do first.

  1. First, you should restrain your dog in a way that allows you to examine the injured area, while protecting yourself from any biting. These injuries can be painful, so expect your pup to be a bit hesitant.If your dog is too painful and will not allow you to look at the nail, you should visit your vet before going forward.
  2. If your dog’s nail is bleeding and they will allow you to touch the area, you can begin to address the bleeding. You can do this by applying light pressure to the area, or even dipping the nail in a bit of corn starch. This can help to “plug” the area and stop the bleeding.If you are unable to stop the bleeding after 10-15 minutes, it’s time to visit the vet.You should also never apply a bandage yourself at home, as this can be extremely damaging to the paw, as well as brew infection if the area is moist for a long period.
  3. If there is a small section of the nail hanging from the area, you can attempt to remove it yourself. This should only be done if your dog is tolerating the pain. If your dog is too painful and will not allow you to do this, you should visit your vet.

It’s important to note that you should always visit your vet if your dog’s nail has become cracked or seriously injured. Due to the high possibility of infection, it is always best to be safe and seek professional guidance. The tips above can help your pup in that moment, but will not provide adequate care going forward if the quick is exposed.

A nail injury is a painful event for our canine companions. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can better help your pup going forward!

Meet The Author 

Amber LaRock Author of Doberman Breed Guide

Amber LaRock

Vet Tech & Trainer

Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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