If you’re a dog owner, I am sure you have come across this issue at one time or another: cutting your dogs nail too short. Many of us might shy away from the act of cutting nails all together and head straight for the groomers, but there are some brave souls who decide to cut their dog’s nails themselves. I commend you, applaud you even!
Personally, I won’t go near the nails because I am terrified of one thing: the “quick,” which is the part of the nail that contains the blood vessel. If you cut your dog’s nails too short, at or past the quick, they will start to bleed. Not to worry, there are quick fixes for the quick. Yes, enjoy the wordplay!
If you cut your dogs nails too short, resulting in bleeding, do not panic. Bleeding can be stopped with an application of corn starch or a special veterinary powder pressed directly on the site of the wound. Once bleeding stops the wound can then be bandaged to protect from further injury.
Let’s break it down in a few easy steps, but first, relax. Having a clear head when your dog is nervous or in pain is best. Dogs often feed off of your emotions and will be more cooperative if you are in a good state of mind. Here are some home remedies for nail bleeds.
What to Do When You’ve Cut Your Dogs Nail Too Short
The first thing you need to focus on is to stopping the bleeding. You have three options accomplish this goal.
1: Styptic Powder
Styptic powder is the most common remedy that veterinarians use for these small injuries. If you don’t have this at home, head to your local pet store, like Petco or PetSmart, they will definitely have styptic powder available.
When you accidentally cut the quick, place a small amount of the styptic powder in your hand, then press your dogs nail against the powder in your hand. Apply pressure for a few seconds and it should stop the bleeding immediately. You can repeat the process if necessary.
Pro tip: this can be used on other pets as well, so it is something you should have in your home as a pet owner, especially if you are the one doing the nail trimming.
2: Corn Starch
If you don’t have styptic powder available and need a seriously quick fix, you can use ingredients from your kitchen! Cornstarch mixed with water should do the trick. After mixing the two ingredients, use a small applicator to place the mix onto the nail. This should stop the bleeding after a few minutes, and can be reapplied if not. Flour can also be used in place of corn starch.
3: Bar Soap
Ingredients in your bathroom can work just as well. A bar of soap can be used to stop the bleeding. Moisten the soap slightly, push a small amount of the soap into the nail cut, and that should do it. Although this is a possible fix, the other two options are recommended because this one will “sting” the dog a bit more than the others.
4: Baby Powder
If you don’t have any of the above ingredients you can also use baby powder. You’ll want to use this in the same way you used styptic powder. Place some in the palm of your hand and press your dogs nail against it for 2-3 minutes.
5: Gauze or Cloth
Lastly, if you don’t have any of the above you can resort to simply holding gauze or a gloth against the nail for about 3-5 minutes. Check every few minutes to see if they bleeding has stopped. If it wasn’t a severe cut this should be enough to stop the bleeding.
Keep Your Dog at Rest
Once you’ve stopped the bleeding, it’s important to keep your dog at rest for a bit. Your pup might have to stay off its paws for a few minutes to let the treatment soak in. And here we bring in the magic that is dog treats.
Let precious Cooper or Cookie snack on a couple treats while they heal. That should keep them occupied long enough to stop the bleeding. You can also bandage the paw as a further precaution. And, off they go! Happy as a clam going back to what dogs do best!
When To See The Vet
If it wasn’t a severe cut, then using one of the 5 methods mentioned above should easily stop the bleeding. However, if you’ve been attempting to stop the bleeding for 30 minutes and it still hasn’t stopped, take your dog to the vet immediately. This means the cut might be deep and the vet will need to properly bandage it.
If you did successfully stop the bleeding within 30 minutes, you’ll still want to keep a close eye on the nail for the next 3-5 days. Since dogs are constantly getting into dirty places, that toe is vulnerable to an infection. If it starts to become red and looks swollen, take your dog into the vet. These are clear signs your dog has a toe infection. Don’t let these go untreated as toe infections can cause serious long term damage.
Black Nails Vs. White Nails
Cutting White Nails
Dogs can have either white or black nails. White nails are typically easier to work with because you can actually see the quick (the pink area shows up in the middle of the nail). Read this carefully. Do not cut near or beyond this pink area! If you do that, the nail will bleed.
When placing the clippers, make sure to hold the clippers beyond the pink quick. After clipping, if there is still white flaky nail left, you can trim a bit farther. Once you reach anything remotely pink on the end, that’s where you need to stop.
Cutting Black Nails
Moving on to black nails. It is so nerve-racking to trim black nails because the quick is not visible. You need to be very careful if you weren’t already. In this situation, you need to watch for the texture of the nail. Same as before, if the nail is still flaky and white or gray, you can continue cutting. You will know when to stop after you see a black center.
How To Handle Fear of Clippers
This is totally normal! Dogs nails are sensitive so when you accidentally cut one too short, it hurts! Your dog knows exactly what device caused this pain and might be terrified next time you bring out the clippers. Luckily this is an easy fix if you find yourself in this situation with your dog. Just know that it does take time so you’ll need to be patient.
The Quick Fix
The easiest method to get your dog over the fear of clippers is to switch to a nail grinder. The nail grinder has never hurt your dog, so they may be ok with it. The best part about nail grinders is they usually a safer way to trim your dogs nails, but the sound and vibration does scare some dogs. If your dog is also afraid of the nail grinder, you’ll have to use the next method…the long term fix.
The Long Term Fix
Right now your dog associated clippers with pain. You need to change their association from pain to pleasure. How do you do this? With treats! Start off by getting your dog to look at the clippers. Each time they do, give them a treat and talk positively to them.
After a few days, lay down with your dog, clippers in your right hand while petting them with your left hand. Get your dog used to the clippers being near them again. Now see if you can tap the clippers to your dogs toe nail. You aren’t cutting the nail quite yet, you just want to see if your dog will let you tap the nail. Make sure you give your dog a treat each time you do this even if they didn’t have a positive response. Remember, the idea here is so their brain connect clippers with treats.
Once you can tap the clippers against your dogs nails, it’s time to see if you can trim them. Give your dog a treat before and after each nail trimming session. Once the connection of “clippers = treats” is made, your dog will get excited each time you take out the clippers!
Will My Dog Hold a Grudge?
It’s funny, one of the first questions we get asked when someone cuts their dogs nail too short is “will they hold a grudge?” Or “is my dog now mad at me?”. The answer is a big NO. Assuming you’ve been a responsible dog owner up to this point, dogs understand intention. They know you’ve been keeping them well fed and hydrated their whole life. They know you’ve been providing shelter and safety for them. And they know you didn’t mean to hurt them. Dogs live in the moment, they probably won’t even be thinking about it the following day.
Your dog will thank you for cutting his or her nails! They will be more comfortable running all around the yard with perfectly trimmed nails. Once again, this process is common, so you don’t need to be afraid of it. If you just can’t get past the idea, the vet and groomer are there to help you. They can guide you through the process, or just do it themselves for a small fee.
Best wishes to you and your fur friends!
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.