How To Stop Bleeding Dog Nails After Trimming Mishaps

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For most of us pet parents the challenging part of any pet grooming session isn’t enticing an unwitting Rover into a bathtub full of soapy water but getting him to sit still for the dread nail clip. Let’s face it, whether your little buddy is a dog or a cat with talons that sound like he’s tap dancing across the floor, no one messes with his paws. Am I right?

In fact, that’s why we’ll let them grow out…cutting the dog’s nails is just a dreaded task on both ends of the spectrum. You worry about cutting too short and that anxiety can be felt by your dog. Your dog worries because you’re worried and because you’ve got those naughty clippers out again, but you both know that one little mistake can leave you both in tears and some blood. The quick is the vein or nerve that runs in every nail and if you accidentally cut into the quick, it could be like Bloody Mary has made a reappearance. You’ll run the risk of ruining carpet, furniture and more, but you’ll also add to your dog’s memory of trauma when you’re grooming. And nobody wants that.

Still, especially in times like these when you can’t even get to the groomer’s sometimes, you need to be able to trim your dog’s nails. Even the most experienced and careful groomers can sometimes face nail bleeding, especially if your dog’s a darker color. It’s easier to see the quick in dogs who have white or light-colored nails, and so it’s easier to avoid clipping them too short. For those dogs with darker-colored nails, you and Fido have a harder time coming to an understanding on cutting placement.

Like we said, many dog parents won’t even bother with nails if they don’t have to and they’ll just hope some walking will help wear them down naturally. The thing is…it won’t.

And that’s a big deal because your dog relies on trim nails for so many reasons–proper posture Included. Long nails may make them shift their weight back, and that makes them take more stress on their back and hind legs than they’re used to.

Dog pads are used for them to feel and grip surfaces, and to bring sensory in, and if their nails are too long, they miss out on that and may be fearful of stepping in places. If their nails are too long, they may spread the dog’s toes apart and that makes walking tougher. And dewclaws can get so long that they grow curled back into your dog’s pads and can create an infection.

Nail trimming is way more important than many may think.

When you hear your dog’s nail click-clacking as he walks across the floor or hard surface, it’s usually a sure sign that he’s ready to have them clipped. The general rule of thumb is to clip where the nail makes a defined curve down towards the floor. Don’t cut too far beyond that or you could snip the quick. Keep in mind that the longer you allow the nails to grow, the longer the quick may grow, as well.

So when you have an uncooperative pooch, a hesitant groomer (you!) and a sharp utensil, you need to be ultra-careful with each snip and always prepared for when accidents happen and a too-short cut results in a damaged quick and bleeding nail.

Related:  How to Trim Nails for a Perfect Pooch Pedicure

To be clear, your dog’s quick grows along with his nail so the longer the nail the longer the quick. Clip only at the curve of his nail where it begins to turn towards the floor — not shorter.  And because the quick is composed of blood vessels and nerves, it most definitely hurts when you injure it and it will bleed. So don’t be too aggressive and if the pedicure becomes too stressful, consider trimming just one foot every few days.

If you have nicked the quick, here are four speedy steps to stop the flow of blood — and of course a treat at the end of any traumatic event always goes over well and helps encourage future cooperation.

  1. Warm Water

The quickest fix is to run his paw in a slow stream of warm water. Make sure his foot is raised to take pressure off the wound and then wrap the paw in a wet washcloth. Gentle pressure on the injured toe for at least 20 minutes (and some soothing words) should stop the bleeding.

  1. Styptic Powder

Handy for when nail trims aren’t part of the bathing ritual and warm water isn’t handy, styptic powder contains Benzocaine which is a topical anesthetic as well as ferric subsulfate which helps stop bleeding. Dip your pet’s nail into the powder (it will initially sting) and apply gentle pressure for a few minutes. Tip: don’t wipe away the blood before dipping because it will aid coagulation.

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  1. Unscented Soap

A wet, softened bar of soap can act as an effective point of pressure and stop bleeding. Gently press your pet’s toenail into the bar of soap and hold for 3-5 minutes. If he’s uncooperative, trying breaking off a piece and pressing it into his toenail. Follow with the application of a clean, damp gauze and another five minutes of pressure.

  1. Natural Paste

In a pinch you can make a homemade paste out of flour, baking powder or cornstarch and a little water. Make it thick, apply it to the nail and leave for five minutes. Repeat if necessary. The paste will help prevent bacteria from entering the wound and aid coagulation. Again, don’t wipe away the blood before you apply this mixture.

Your ultimate goal is to stop the bleeding through pressure and prevent infection. Following any of these procedures, keep your pooch quiet and off his feet for at least 30 minutes. When you are certain the bleeding has stopped, you can then rinse his paw with warm water and bandage with gauze to prevent him from licking or potential infection.

Consult your vet if after these steps the bleeding is still not under control or if the toe remains tender, becomes swollen or is red in the days that follow.

And, remember you’re certainly not the only person that’s ever accidentally cut your dog’s nails too close. They’ll forgive you, so you’ll need to forgive yourself–because nail trimming must be done.