Ouch! What to do if Your Dog Breaks a Nail

Photo courtesy of Jackie Sheppard

Springtime in Chicago is a wonderful time of year and many dog owners in the Lakeview or Lincoln Park area start to take their dogs to the parks. One of the most common reasons why owners bring their dogs in to Blum during the warmer months is for torn or cracked nails, often occurring when they are running around outside or at the dog park.

Just like if we have a broken or cracked nail, this can be uncomfortable or painful to our pups. Inside a dog’s nail is a collection of blood vessels that make up what is known as the “quick.” If this becomes exposed, there can be bleeding and with the nerves exposed this usually makes the area tender. If the nail is bleeding, we recommend applying direct pressure to it for about 5 minutes or rubbing styptic powder (such as Kwik Stop) on the broken nail. An alternative to styptic powder is baking soda or cornstarch – measure out a small amount of either baking soda or cornstarch, and add just enough water to make it into a paste and then apply it to the nail.  We recommend bringing your dog in for an appointment if the broken nail is still attached or if it is bleeding. In some cases, pain medication or antibiotics may be necessary to keep your dog comfortable or to prevent infection.  

To avoid a broken nail, try to keep your dog’s nails short by routinely trimming their nails or bringing them in to Blum to have us trim them. The time between each nail trim depends on the dog, but if your pup’s nails are about to touch the ground, then this is the ideal time to get it done. 

Besides broken nails, check out this previous blog for other tips on how to keep your dog safe at the park!

Dog Park Safety Tips

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.