My dog broke a nail, what should I do?

Torn nails can be difficult to treat and painful for your dog. They can also bleed a lot which can be alarming for owners. It’s important to know how to deal with dog broken nail injuries and what may have caused it. In most cases, broken nails are not a pet emergency. If you are concerned about your pet’s broken nail please seek advice from our online video vets.

When should I see my vet for a dog broken nail injury?

If the nail is hanging off, it will need to be removed, as your dog will continue to catch the nail, causing pain. In some cases your vet will be able to do this in the consultation, other cases will need sedation, local anaesthetic or even a general anaesthetic depending on the severity of the injury. Please speak to our online video vets if you are concerned.

image of a dog for vets now article on dog broken nail
Dog broken nail injuries are very painful for dogs

Dog split nail injury causes

Dog broken nails are commonly caused by trauma, infection, bacteria or fungus or a result of the nails having been cut too close to the nail bed. Other causes include congenital conditions, tumours or immune system diseases.

How can I tell if my dog broke a nail?

Common signs of a dog split nail can include:

  • Licking paws
  • Lameness or difficulty walking
  • Pain in the feet
  • Swelling or redness of tissues surrounding the nails
  • Abnormal nail color
  • Bleeding
  • Finding dog split nail pieces around the home

How should I treat a dog broken nail injury?

A lot of blood can result from a dog split nail injury and there are a few things you can do to control the bleeding.
To treat a dog broken nail:

  • Initially try steady pressure with a cold damp cloth

If the nail is still bleeding after 5 minutes or your dog won’t let you use a cloth:

  • Try applying flour to the area or try a cauterizing pencil
  • If the nail continues to bleed, apply a light covering dressing
  • Contact your vet for further advice

How can I prevent dog split nail problems?

Try to keep your dogs nails to a minimum length as this can help to reduce future injuries, but unfortunately some dogs just have problematic nails. Walking on hard concrete/tarmac will help to keep most nails trim, make sure you regularly check the length of the dew claw as these are often the ones which ‘catch’ on things.