When a dog or cat breaks a nail and the quick (or blood vessel) is exposed, the resultant bleeding can seem like a lot!

It can also be very painful, similar to when a human breaks a nail below the nail bed. You may notice your pet is unsteady or holding their foot up, trying not to put pressure on the source of pain.

How does it happen?

Pets catch their nails on rugs and carpets, or sometimes they land on their feet at an odd angle and that could cause a break.

What is the treatment?

The first thing you can do at home is apply a temporary bandage to the area to contain the bleeding. This can be as simple as a paper towel underneath an ace bandage. The point of the bandage is to contain the bleeding while you transport your dog to a veterinary clinic.

Cat paws and small dog paws can be harder to bandage, so it may be best to leave the nail unbandaged and put the pet in a carrier.

The veterinarian will often recommend a short-acting sedative while the part of the nail that is still hanging on is trimmed (so it won’t catch on anything) and then quick cauterized, as this can be painful. After that, a bandage may be applied.

Depending on the circumstances, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or pain medication.

Your pet should be much more comfortable after having the broken nail trimmed and cauterized. The nail will usually grow back, unless the break was very low. Sometimes the nail will grow back crooked.

We don’t recommend bandaging your pet at home, except to keep your car clean while you make your way to the vet for care. The reason home bandaging is not recommended is that an improperly applied bandage can cause permanent damage to your pet’s leg.