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Pet First Aid: Broken/Bleeding Nail

The Humane Society of the United States

Causes:  Not trimming toenails on a regular basis, injury, cutting a toenail too short during trimming.

Signs:  Bleeding from toe; Your pet doesn’t place as much weight on the leg with the broken toenail.

Tip: Clip only the sharp tips of your pet’s nails regularly using a clipper designed for dogs or cats. Your veterinarian can show you how.

First aid

Apply direct pressure to the nail with a piece of gauze or a clean cloth for five minutes, or apply styptic pencil, or styptic powder to the area. These items should be a part of your first aid kit. If you do not have these items available, try the following:

  • Take a bar of soap and push it into the bleeding nail or apply flour or cornstarch to the area with firm pressure for five minutes.
  • If you aren’t successful, wrap the paw like a pad wound. After bandaging the paw, transport your pet to a veterinary hospital.

If you are able to stop the bleeding at home, wait one day (to make sure you do not disturb the clot that has formed) then soak the paw in warm water and Epsom salts. Monitor the site for infection, as evidenced by swelling, pain, redness, and reluctance to put weight on the paw. If any of these signs appear, take your pet to a veterinarian.

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