How to Deal with Dog Broken Nail (with Bleeding or Not)?

One of the most common injuries that dogs have is a broken nail. It can be very painful, so you should know exactly what to do if it happens, to relieves the pup’s struggles or even prevent it in the first place.

And while it seems that dog broken nail might just be a cosmetic thing, if it is not taken care of well, there can be serious consequences. This includes nail infections and even cancers, and sometimes your pet might need the help of canine rehabilitation specialists.

So as long as you want to avoid all those costly consequences, it is important to offer your dog first aid as soon as possible. And then promptly take it to the veterinarian. But let’s see what this first aid entails. 

Do you have a specific question about dogs and broken nails? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 

What are the main causes of dog broken nails?

There are quite a few things that can cause a broken nail in a dog. These range from acute causes like trauma to more serious health conditions like cancer. Below are some of the things that can be the cause if you notice that your dog broke toenail.

  1. Trauma is a common cause of a broken toenail in dogs (and in humans as well). This can happen if your dog gets its toenail snagged on something (like carpeting or furniture), especially when moving fast or playing. If they land awkwardly when jumping from a height, it can also cause a similar effect.
  2. Long toenails are more likely to break, which occurs in dogs who have not had their nails clipped in quite a while.
  3. Toenails can be brittle in older dogs, which is a regular occurrence as they age. Brittle toenails can also be a problem in dogs with certain health conditions. 
  4. Cancers in the foot and toe region can also affect the nail’s anchoring and cause it to fall off on its own or break off easily.
  5. Poorly done nail trimming can also result in broken nails. It is important to use appropriate tools (like a decent dog nail grinder or clipper) for your dog and ensure that they are sharp enough.

Why do dogs’ nails split?

Split nails are quite different from broken nails. A dog split nail tends to mean the nail is splitting in two vertically, though this can sometimes occur horizontally. While this can sometimes be an occurrence in healthy dogs if they are active, it can also indicate an underlying problem. 

A split toenail can occur in dogs from trauma. This may happen if there is enough force to fracture the nail but not to break it completely. Apart from this, it can occur very commonly with brittle toenails and point to nutritional deficiencies in younger dogs.

If this happens, it is essential to take your dog to the vet as a split nail that reaches the base can be extremely painful. Fungal infections can also result in split nails.

What to do when a dog nail fell off, and there’s no blood?

Even though it might not seem like it, this is something that can occur relatively frequently. If there’s no blood when your dog’s nail falls off, it means that the nail didn’t fall off from the quick, which is the nail’s fleshy base with a lot of blood supply.

 This can be an everyday occurrence, particularly with the dewclaw, which is the little floppy claw higher on your dog’s paw. However, if you notice your dog lost a nail at a rate that seems irregular, you should take it to the vet. It could be a sign of an underlying health condition such as a cancer of the foot or malnutrition.

What if dog nails split vertically?

What can make the difference between a vertically split nail that is completely ignored and one that causes excruciating pain is the length of the vertical split. The longer it gets, the more painful it will be.

If you notice that your dog’s nail is splitting but is yet to get to the quick, you can trim it right before the split. This will help prevent the splitting from continuing along that seam. However, if it is too long and is already causing pain, take your dog to the vet as soon as you can.

What to do about the dog’s broken nail with bleeding? 

If you find that your pet has broken its claw and the dog nail bleeding at the base, it is integral that you take it to the vet. However, before you get to this point, you should take the necessary first aid steps to stop the bleeding.

  1. Hold the dog tight. A broken nail is immensely painful, so your canine companion will resist any touches you make in that region. If you can, get someone else to hold him still while you work.
  2. Use a towel or gauze to stop the bleeding. You do this by wrapping the foot, with attention to the bleeding, and applying pressure. Hold down for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Take your dog to the vet with the foot still wrapped to prevent further trauma.

How to fix a dog’s broken nail?

If your dog has a cracked or broken nail that isn’t bleeding, the quick is likely closer to being damaged if there is further trauma. Believe it or not, you can superglue a cracked dog nail right back on if you can find the other piece.

This will help protect the quick from additional trauma, which can cause bleeding. Once the nail grows long enough with the superglued part on, you can cut it like normal.

Best dog split nail treatment

Prevention will always be the best cure, which is why it is important to take your dog to the vet if it deals with split nails. This is because there can be a variety of causes, so just as many possible treatments. These can include balanced diets for malnutrition, treating infection in the case of fungal infection, and making sure they are frequently trimmed if it results from trauma.

What to do if the broken dog nail still attached?

If it is still attached, but the break is above the quick, then you can use your dog’s nail clippers to cut off the hanging part. However, if it is below the quick, you should take your dog to the vet once you make sure that there’s no bleeding. Your vet will likely cut it off as well, but they have more experience and will avoid further damage to your dog torn nail.

Credits: thanks for the cover photo to Canva.

dog paws

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