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Home > Dogs > How to Stop a Dog’s Nail from Bleeding: 7 Vet-Approved Steps

How to Stop a Dog’s Nail from Bleeding: 7 Vet-Approved Steps

close up of a dog's paw and trimmed nails

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Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Trimming their dog’s nails is stressful for many pet owners. If you accidentally cut a nail too short, your dog’s reaction can be pretty dramatic, and the injured claw will probably start bleeding, too. In this article, you’ll learn how to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding as quickly as possible. We’ll also give you tips to help you avoid cutting your dog’s nail too short in the first place.


Before You Begin

If you cut your dog’s nail too short, you don’t want to waste time grabbing the supplies you need from another room. Have the following items on hand before you even begin the trimming:

  • Clean cloth or small towel
  • Styptic/clotting powder, or flour or cornstarch
  • Scent-free bar of soap
  • Ice (optional)
  • Treats

How to Stop a Dog’s Nail from Bleeding in 7 Steps

pomeranian dog with grooming product on the side
Image Credit: Zdan Ivan, Shutterstock

1. Stay Calm

Unless your dog is naturally calm, they’re probably going to have an intense reaction to their nail being cut too short. The last thing your stressed, painful, bleeding dog needs is for you to panic.

Stay calm and remember that toenail injuries are common, and there can be a surprising amount of blood from a tiny nail! Take a deep breath (or two) and get to work dealing with the problem. Your dog will feed off your emotions, good or bad.

2. Reassure Your Dog

Part of the reason for you to stay calm is so you can distract and reassure your dog long enough to stop the bleeding effectively. Stress and anxiety can increase your dog’s blood pressure and make the flow harder to stop, and the more they panic and scrabble around, the more dramatic the blood spatter will be! Speak soothingly to your dog or distract them with petting as you start to stop the bleeding.

3. Apply Pressure

As you reassure your dog, apply pressure to the bleeding nail with a clean cloth or small towel, ideally for about 2 minutes. This step generally isn’t enough to stop all the blood, but can help slow it long enough to get you to the next one.

If pressure alone isn’t enough to slow the bleeding, try placing crushed ice in the cloth and applying pressure with the cold pack for about 2 minutes.

dog with paw bandage
Image Credit: Alice Chen, Shutterstock

4. Apply a Product to Help the Bleeding Stop

Once the pressure or ice compress has slowed most of the bleeding, it’s time to apply a product to help the blood clot and stop the flow completely. If you have commercial styptic powder, such as Kwik Stop, place a small amount directly onto the bleeding nail.

Don’t wipe the nail first because you can disturb the clotting process. Some styptic powder may sting when first applied. These products are widely available over the counter at pet stores and vet’s offices.

5. Try a Home Remedy in a Pinch

If you don’t have styptic powder, try using flour or cornstarch. Place a small amount in the palm of your hand and press the dog’s bleeding nail into it to coat the area. Another option is to rub the bleeding nail on the surface of a new bar of unscented soap. Styptic powder is generally the most effective way to get a dog’s nail to stop bleeding, but in a pinch, these home remedies can work, too.

6. Reward Your Dog

Once you have control of the bleeding, reward your dog with treats for surviving the ordeal. Feeding treats will help replace the dog’s traumatic memories of nail trims with positive associations.

Rottweiler Give Treat
Image Credit: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

7. If the Bleeding Continues, Call Your Vet

Call your veterinarian if you can’t get the nail to stop bleeding even after following these steps. As mentioned earlier, bleeding nails are very common and usually a minor issue to resolve. Rarely, you may have difficulty getting the bleeding to stop and need to take your dog to the vet.

Sometimes, the nail is broken and bleeding because of an injury. Your dog may also have a blood clotting disorder you didn’t know about. Whatever the reason, if the nail keeps bleeding for more than a few minutes, especially after applying pressure and clotting powder, call your vet.

divider-dog paw

Tips to Avoid Making Your Dog’s Nail Bleed

A dog’s nail bleeds due to an injury to the “quick” or nail bed, which contains blood vessels. This may occur when the nail is trimmed too short or accidentally snagged or broken. Long dog nails are more likely to get caught and broken, and the way to avoid injuries is to keep the nails trimmed.

Light Nails

If your dog has light-colored nails, it’s easier to avoid cutting them too short. The pink part of the nail (the quick) is more visible, and you can stop the blade easily before it hits the blood vessel. If your dog has dark or black nails, it’s much harder to avoid cutting them too short.

Dark Nails

The best way to approach dark nails is from underneath. Although you can’t see the quick through the nail itself, you can usually tell where it starts by looking under the nail. This way you can visualize the part of the nail that doesn’t have any fleshy tissue behind it, which is the part you can trim.

a person trimming a dog's nails
Image Credit: Duet PandG, Shutterstock

Handling Their Feet

If your dog is struggling as you try to trim their nails, it’s a lot harder to avoid cutting them too short, no matter what color they are. Train your dog to accept nail trims from a young age by getting them used to having their feet handled.

Ensure you and your dog are relaxed before attempting a nail trim. Keep the experience positive by working slowly and being generous about offering treats.

Use a Nail Grinder

Although not 100% foolproof, using an electric Dremel-style nail grinder is one way to gradually trim your dog’s nails with a reduced risk of damaging the quick. Bear in mind that this machine will take quite a bit of getting used to for most dogs.



If you feel unsure about cutting your dog’s nails at home, ask your vet or their staff to demonstrate the process. Ensure you use a sharp, sturdy pair of trimmers to avoid crushing or splintering the nail. Or you can even invest in an electric nail grinder.

Remember that it’s almost impossible to avoid cutting nails too short at some point, especially if your dog has black nails. Even vets do it sometimes! Be prepared with the supplies and methods we outlined in this article, and you should be ready to handle the situation.

Featured Image Credit: ulisesbeviglia, PIxabay

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