3 Tips to Care For Your Dog’s Broken Nail

by Linda Troup on June 23, 2013



Wrapped Paw

It can happen to anyone’s dog at any time. A Dog can get a broken nail from running and playing or by getting it caught in the carpet or a blanket. When it does you will want to be prepared.

Have you ever seen your dog’s nail bleed a bit after a toe nail trim?
The “quick” of the nail is made up of a bundle of vessels and nerves. When the nail is cut or filed too short the quick is nicked and bleeds. The same thing happens when the nail is injured to the point of cracking and bleeding. The amount of blood that can come from a broken nail is astounding and quite frightening for the human AND the dog! Besides being scary it really hurts!

We have been through this a couple times with our French Bulldogs.
Just recently Marley broke his entire toe nail off! The whole thing, right to the base of the toe. How the heck did he do that? We have no idea.

The previous night, Marley heard a noise and jumped out of our bed and onto the hardwood floor. Maybe he cracked it then? The next day he was chasing the ball with “Dad” and having a great ‘ol time. After a tiring game of ball he came in to take a nap and when he was called to dinner a short time later it looked like a blood bath! So maybe he cracked it jumping out of bed and then irritated it chasing his ball…and then picked at it during his pre-dinner nap.

We will never know for sure.  What we do know for sure is the process of getting it all better.

Here are 3 critical steps to helping a toe nail injury heal:

  • Remove any dangling or severely damaged part of the nail
  • Clean it and Stop the bleeding
  • Protect it from further injury or infection

Remove any Dangling or Severely Damaged Part of the Nail

First examine the nail.  If it is “dangling by a thread”, or has a sharp jagged edge it will need to be clipped. Keep in mind that the quick is a bundle of nerves and your dog is in pain. Even the most calm and friendly dog can bite when in pain or frightened. If your dog is used to a muzzle, now may be a good time to use it. If you are uncomfortable removing the remnants of the nail a trip to the veterinarian is in order. The last thing you want to have happen is for the nail to catch on something and forcibly rip further. 

Use a pair of clippers and cut the nail just above the break, if possible.

Clean it and Stop the Bleeding

Bleeding naturally cleans out a wound. The blood flow flushes the area. You may, or may not, need to wash the toe. If the foot is soiled from being outside you will need to gently clean the toe and then get the bleeding to stop.

Thieves Household Cleaner DipGrab a clean container and add a cup or two of lukewarm water. Add 1-2 caps of Thieves Household Cleaner and gently dip the foot into the cleaner.  Thieves Household Cleaner is gentle, does not sting and is Antibacteria, Antifungal and Antiviral.  This will get the wound off to a great start and set the stage for healing.

There are several ways you can stop the bleeding. Some are better than others.

Apply Pressure:
Use a clean cloth to apply pressure; however it is doubtful that your dog will enjoy this process or tolerate it long enough for the bleeding to clot.

Styptic Pencils, Powder and Gel
These work great for stopping bleeding but they sting like heck! I used the gel on myself one time and was shocked how badly it hurt. My skin turned black and the bleeding stopped but I’d really save the styptic products as a last resort.

It is inexpensive and works, to a degree. But in the heat of the moment I know I’d be hard pressed to find my cornstarch.

Essential Oils
Several different therapeutic grade essential oils have properties that coagulate blood. Any one of these will do the trick: Cypress, Helichrysum, Melrose, or Lavender

Yunnan Baiyao
Here is my top pick for stopping bleeding ASAP. Yunnan Baiyao is an over-the-counter Chinese herbal medication which significantly reduces bleeding, pain and swelling of injuries & wounds.  It is painless and extremely quick. The great news is it works for both internal and external bleeding. For something like a broken toe nail you simply open the capsule and sprinkle the contents on the toe and BAM!  No more blood!

Yunnan Baiyao has been used on the battle field and has been credited with saving countless lives. The formula is so closely guarded that only one copy of it exists – locked for safety and security in the safe of the General commanding the Chinese armed forces.

Fortunately you can buy Yunnan Baiyao from most Holistic Veterinarians, Chinese Herb Shops, or online. Just “Google” it.

Protect it from further injury or infection

Cover the toes with sterile gauze and wrap the foot with self stick veterinary wrap. This will keep the area clean and provide some padding that will protect it from bumps and bangs. Make sure the wrap is loose enough there is no danger of cutting off the circulation. The wrap can stay on for the first 24 hours, or so.

Right now the goal is to keep the wound clean and dry.

When you remove the wrap it is time to start supporting the body as it fights off infection gets serious about healing.

Lavender for Broken Toe NailOnce or twice a day clean the wound in the diluted Thieves Household Cleaner to kill any germs. Gently pat it dry with a clean wash cloth and apply a drop of therapeutic grade Lavender Essential Oil.

If your dog is anything like my Marley it you will also have to employ “the Cone of Shame”. Yes, an Elizabethan collar may be needed to keep your buddy from licking the toe and irritating it. Be sure to visit your veterinarian if there are any signs of infection or if anything seems off to you.


Linda Troup, founder of TouchNpaws, the TeachNpaws Academy, and creator of Holistic Pet Care Videos is a Canine Wellness Consultant. Linda teaches owners how they can enhance their dog’s comfort, wellness and mobility and how they can become the advocate their dog needs them to be.

Helping her own French Bulldogs through challenges ranging from chronic allergies to paralysis and spine surgery she has found her passion in life…Teaching owners how to help their dogs feel amazing.

Linda offers you an opportunity to learn how to help your dog feel their absolute best when you grab your Free copy of her Holistic Pet Care Videos in the top right-hand corner of this page!
Or, just click here.

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