My Dog Broke a Nail – What Should I Do?

You love your dog. You do not want anything bad to happen to him or her. Therefore, it can be heartbreaking if you notice that your dog breaks a nail. 

So, if your dog breaks a nail, what should you do? First, you should safely restrain your dog. You may need to ask someone else to help you as you tend to the nail.  Then, control the bleeding with a clean towel or gauze. If the bleeding does not stop within ten minutes, you should call the vet. 

If you find yourself saying “my dog’s nail broke,” what else do you need to know? Why do nails break, and how do vets take care of dogs with broken nails? 

Why Do Nails Break?

Similar to people, there are countless reasons why a dog may break his or her nail. Some of the most common culprits include:

  • The Upholstery: If your dog likes to climb on chairs and couches, there is a chance that he or she could snag his or her nails on the upholstery. Take a look and see if you can fit a pencil or pen in between the fibers of the upholstery. If that is the case, there is a chance that your dog could get his or her nail caught when he or she climbs on the chair. This could lead to a nail breaking.
  • The Carpet: Similar to the upholstery, there is a chance that your dog may also break his or her nail on the carpet. Therefore, try to keep your carpet low to the ground. This could reduce the chances of your dog breaking his or her nail. 
  • The Grass Outside: Finally, there is also a chance that your dog could break his or her nails while running around outside. Grass, bushes, trees, and flowers all have roots that extend into the ground. Particularly if your dog likes to dig, there is a chance that he or she could break his or her nails by snagging them on the roots in the ground. 

These are just a few of the most common reasons why your dog could break his or her nails. If you have a broken nail, you understand this can range widely in severity. Are broken nails really that big of a problem? 

Are Broken Nails That Big of an Issue?

A broken nail can be a significant problem depending on how big it is. When your dog breaks his or her nails, there is a chance that this could damage a collection of blood vessels and nerves in an area called the quick. If you take a look at your own fingernails, the quick is the area that is pink in color. If you break a nail down to this area, you are going to cause your nails to bleed as well. 

If this area is damaged when your dog breaks his or her nails, this can create a serious problem. If the quick is harmed when the nail is broken, this can lead to serious pain. This is also why your dog’s nail could be bleeding. 

If your dog has a particularly large broken nail, the culprit could be the dewclaw (which is higher up on the foot). If this nail is broken or damaged, it could be an even bigger issue. Dewclaws are not worn down as dogs walk around on hard surfaces. Therefore, normal wear and tear may not keep the snail short enough. Because dewclaws do not bear weight, they need to be trimmed more frequently. If they are not trimmed appropriately, they are more prone to breaking than the other nails. 

How Can I Prevent my Dog’s Nails from Breaking?

If you would like to protect your dog from harm, there are a few ways that you can prevent your dog’s nails from breaking. A few of the most important tips to keep in mind include: 

  • Keep Your Dog’s Nails Trimmed: First, make sure you trim the nails of your dog regularly. If you are not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, then you should take them to a professional groomer. As long as you keep the nails short, there is a reduced chance of them snagging on upholstery, carpet, and roots outside. 
  • Select Your Carpet and Upholstery Carefully: Next, you also need to select your carpet and upholstery carefully. If you want to prevent your dog’s nails from breaking, try to select carpet and upholstery that do not have a lot of loose fibers. If you minimize the size of the fibers, you reduce the chances of your dog’s snagging his or her nails. 
  • Take Care of Your Landscape: You can also prevent your dog from breaking his or her nails by taking care of the landscape outside. If you keep your lawn, bushes, and flowers manicured appropriately, there is a reduced chance of your dog breaking his or her nails. 
  • Ask the Vet for Help: Finally, if you notice that your dog is breaking his or her nails regularly, you may want to ask the veterinarian for more advice. For example, he or she may be able to show you how you can trim your dog’s nails better at home. 

As long as you take care of your dog’s nails, you should be able to reduce the chances of them breaking. That way, you can spare your dog from painful injuries.

How Does the Vet Take Care of Broken Nails?

Remember that if your dog has suffered a broken nail, you need to safely restrain your dog and control the bleeding as quickly as possible. Use a clean towel or gauze pad to do so. 

If you are able to apply pressure to the area, the bleeding should stop in a few minutes. If it does not, it is time to take your dog to the veterinarian. At the veterinarian, the vet may apply silver nitrate or cauterizing powder to stop the bleeding. This is important for improving the visual field. After the bleeding has stopped, the veterinarian is going to try to remove the damaged part of the nail. This is usually done with clippers or scissors. Even though you may feel like you can do this at home, this is something that is best left to the veterinarian. Even if your dog loves you, you do not know how he or she is going to react when in pain. You may end up getting bitten.

Depending on the side of the break, the veterinarian may want to apply some local anesthetic. In this case, a nerve block could be required. This will help your dog hold still during this process.

Once the damaged nail has been removed, the veterinarian will protect the nail bed from infection. This could be done with topical, oral, or injectable antibiotics. After you take the dog home, you will need to keep an eye on him or her to make sure the area does not become infected. If you see dirty puss coming from the area, this is a sign that it could be infected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a broken nail an emergency? If the nail is bleeding, this is an emergency. Try to stop the bleeding with a clean towel. Then, take your dog to the vet.

How do you treat a broken nail? You treat a broken nail by stopping the bleeding, preventing infection with antibiotics, and controlling pain with medicine. 

Should I take my dog to the vet for a broken nail? If you notice the broken nail is bleeding, you should take your dog to the vet for emergency care. 

If my dog has a broken nail, can he or she walk? You should try to avoid walking your dog until the nail has dried up. Otherwise, it could get infected. 

How long does it take a broken nail to heal? The area should start healing within a few days; however, it could take a few months for the nail to fully regrow. 

How do I know if a broken nail has been infected? If you see yellow or green pus coming from that area, this is a sign that it is probably infected. 

Does my dog need pain medicine for a broken nail? Yes. Your veterinarian may also provide you with some pain medication. The area is going to be tender until the nail grows back.

Leave a Comment