How to Stop Dog Toenail Bleeding: Quick Ways to Manage the Situation

Image showing a dog nails
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

Dogs will bring laughter and joy into your life, but it can’t be denied that taking care of them is a lot of work. Cutting your dog’s nails is especially a huge challenge. Though you have a wide variety of clippers to choose from—which can significantly ease the process—if your dog is skittish or fidgety, you can accidentally clip too deep. This will cause them to bleed. Knowing how to stop dog toenail bleeding is key in these emergency situations.

Now, a bleeding nail will not be a life or death situation. You can, essentially, just leave it like that. After a few minutes, it should stop bleeding on its own. However, it’s messy and of course, painful for your dog. It’s better to apply a quick and easy remedy to give the dog and yourself some relief.

A woman trimming her dog nails

There are commercial solutions designed to help with dog toenail bleeding. But if you don’t want to go through the hassle of keeping them stocked up at home when you’ll probably rarely use them, you can also use homemade remedies. We promise that these homemade remedies are just as effective if not more so.

In this article, we’re going to tell you how to cut your dog’s nails and what to do if you clip them too deeply. We are also going to provide you with tips on how to use commercial solutions to quickly stop the bleeding as well as recipes for remedies that are effective and easy to make. But before we delve into the recipes, let’s first take a look at some basic information regarding bleeding toenails.

Why Do Their Nails Bleed?

Before you start clipping, it’s important to know the anatomy of your dog. Dog nails are designed to help them dig, catch their prey, and defend themselves. In their nails, they have veins and nerves which are called a quick.

Man owner is making manicure of retriever puppy after shower

The quick does not reach the end of their nails, however. Depending on the dog, they tend to end in mid-nail. This is why, if you cut their nails too short, they start to bleed since you’ve hit the nerve and veins—aka the quick.

Where Should You Cut the Nail?

Sometimes, if the dog nail is light in color, you’ll be able to see where the nerve ends in their nails. However, if the dog has dark nails, there’s only a slim chance you’ll be able to see where the quick ends. So, as a rule of thumb, you’ll want to clip their nails where the nail starts to curve downwards. If you cut beyond that point, there’s a high chance that you’ll hit the quick.

Image showing overgrown dog nails

Remember though, every nail is different, so some nerves may sit higher or lower on certain nails. If you’re not sure, then we recommend that you only clip a little bit of the nail off. Or you can go to a groomer who’ll be able to do this professionally and safely for you. A groomer is not just experienced at cutting dog toenail so they know precisely how to do it without hurting the dog—they also have a variety of nail clippers they can choose from depending on the dog’s nail.

Choosing the Right Nail Clippers for You

There is an endless amount of nail clippers on the market—all ranging in different prices and styles. Don’t be fooled by the appearance. You want a clipper that doesn’t necessarily look good but works well. Instead of choosing one that’s popular or is nicely designed, choose one that you’re comfortable using.

Image showing a woman preparing to trim her dog's nails

If you’re a beginner when it comes to nail clipping, choosing one which is more supportive is a good idea. You also need to take into consideration the type of nails your dog has. If he/she has brittle nails, you’ll need a clipper that’s suited for that. So, don’t pick the first nail clippers you see.

Even if you have picked the best or most highly rated dog nail clipper, however, accidents may still happen. Now that you know why their nails bleed and where you should be cutting their nails, it’s time to learn what to do just in case you clip the quick while cutting their nails.

How to Stop Your Dog’s Toenail Bleeding

So, you’ve accidentally cut your dog’s quick while clipping their nails. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. What you need to focus on now is getting your dog’s nail to stop bleeding. With that being said, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Don’t Panic

This is the last thing you need. You’re going to see blood, this is inevitable. Your initial and natural reaction may be to panic and freak out, but this won’t help anyone and will certainly stress out your dog even more.

Image showing little dog laying down and looking at his owner

Instead of freaking out, use one of the remedies below as soon as possible. We need to warn you, the bleeding may look bad but it looks a lot worse than it really is. Just take a deep breath and be calm. You’ll fix this. Also, your dog isn’t in as much pain as you think.

Use a Commercial Remedy

If toenail bleeding accidents happen often, then you may want to keep commercial remedies stocked up in your home. There are two options:

Commercial Remedy 1: Styptic Powder or Pen

This is specially made for pets, so you’ll find this at any pet store. The styptic powder contains silver nitrate and is probably the most effective way to stop bleeding when you clip the quick. In addition, it’s already ready for you to use so you don’t need to waste time mixing up a concoction.

Image showing a Styptic Powder on the table

With styptic powder, you apply it directly to the area simply by placing the toe into the powder. Then, you take a paper towel and press it onto the nail, applying pressure. They also have the option of a Styptic pen which you can simply wet with water and then apply directly to the wound.

Regardless if you use the loose powder or pen, it’s going to sting. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can opt for more natural remedies which we’ll provide you with below. Note that if the bleeding continues, you simply have to reapply styptic powder back onto the wound until it stops bleeding.

Commercial Remedy 2: Potassium Permanganate

Potassium Permanganate is a powder which is made of bright purple crystals and is commonly used in veterinary clinics to stop bleeding nails. In addition to it acting as a blood stopper, it’s also used as a disinfectant.

Image showing a potassium-permanganate solution on the table

In order to use it properly, you’ll need the potassium permanganate, water, and a Q-tip or cotton swab. With either the Q-tip or cotton swab, you’ll wet it with water and then dip it into the powder. Then, press the swab onto the nail and hold it down for a minimum of 30 seconds. When you remove the swab, you’ll notice that the bleeding has stopped.

Use a Homemade Remedy

If for some reason using commercial remedies does not sit well with you or if you don’t have any at home when the accident happens, you can still whip up a homemade concoction. Below we have laid out 2 remedies that are known to be very effective for stopping toenail bleeding. All of these are really easy to make and only require generic ingredients that should be available in any household.

Homemade Remedy 1: Cornstarch and Water

This is an easy way to stop the bleeding. You simply mix cornstarch and water together and bam! You’ll want to make it into a paste, using a Q-tip to apply it to your dog’s nail. You’ll feel the need to swipe the toe to clean the blood off but don’t. The paste will do the job of healing the nail. You’ll need to leave the paste on for a couple of minutes and if necessary, add another layer of paste onto the nail. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can also try using flour or baking soda.

Close up image of Cornstarch and Water mixed together

However, we recommend that you do have this paste pre-made before you clip your dog’s nails, just as a precaution. If you clip your dog’s nails too short and don’t have any paste ready, you’re going to have to make it in a hurry.

Homemade Remedy 2: A Bar of Soap

Who would have thought that a bar of soap would do the trick? Well, you can actually stop the minor bleeding with a wet bar of soap. Now, don’t make it so wet that the paw slides off of it. What you’ll need to do is gently press your dog’s paw onto the bar of soap, moving the nail across the bar. Make sure the bar of soap isn’t scented. Try to keep it as neutral as possible.

Bars of coloured handmade soaps with herbs and olives.

You’ll want to hold your dog’s paw on the bar of soap for a couple of minutes to allow the blood to clot. If you think your dog won’t be able to stand still for that period of time, then using Styptic powder or cornstarch would be a better idea.

Use Bandages

If you’re not able to use any of the methods above, the last thing you can try is to bandage up the wound. This will help stop the bleeding but most importantly prevent the dog from licking the nail.

Image showing a dog with bandage laying down

Now, placing a bandage on an injured dog isn’t going to be easy, so we recommend you try to cover the paw with a sock first and then wrap up the paw. Make sure that it isn’t too tight nor too loose.

Sometimes the bandage will be enough support to stop the bleeding. However, if it’s not, when you’re able to use one of the other methods above such as Styptic powder, remove the bandage and apply the remedy onto the nail.

If the Bleeding Doesn’t Stop

Most nail injuries are minor and only look bad because of the blood. In most cases, the bleeding will stop within 20 minutes. If the bleeding has stopped, then you’re in the clear. However, do remember that if it’s not properly clotted, since they’re walking on the paw, then there’s a chance for bleeding to recur. It’s best if you keep your dog off of that paw for 20-30 minutes. You can hold them or rub them. Basically, distract them from focusing on their injury.

Image presenting cute dog paw

If, after 20 minutes the bleeding has not stopped, then it’s time for you to take a trip to the vet. Even after going to see a vet, you want to check on their nail for the next couple of weeks just to make sure things are healing up nicely. If you notice any oozing, swelling, or if your dog is limping, take this as a possible sign of infection and take another trip to the vet.

Wrap Up

Clipping your dog’s nails isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, if you do it correctly, it’s quick and painless. If your dog is skittish or aggressive while having their nails clipped, give them some space and allow them to calm down. When they’re calmer, you’ll be able to approach them again and give it another try. Make sure you have some treats with you so that you’ll be able to give them positive reinforcement for their good behavior.

If after everything, you’re really nervous about clipping your dog’s nails, then we highly recommend you do not. Clipping your dog’s nails don’t get your brownie points, it’s not something that you as the owner has to do.

Image showing a dog getting rest on his owner

Sure, this could be a great experience for you and your dog, however, nerves only add stress and a higher risk for accidents. In this case, invest in going to a vet or a groomer to get them professionally clipped. Then, you’ll be able to see how they do it and possibly do it on your own next time if you’re comfortable with it.

Has your dog experienced bleeding from getting their quick clipped? Did you try any of the aforementioned remedies? Please let us know in the comment section below about your experience and what you did to help stop your dog’s nail from bleeding!

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.