Torn Nail: Helping Your Pet at Home

Often, we will see pets come in with a broken or torn nail. These are usually very bloody messes and will scare owners. Do not fear; yes, there is a lot of blood but with some help, we can stop or minimize the bleeding until you can see the Veterinarian. We encourage owners to learn how to trim their pets’ nails or bring them in regularly to help avoid them getting too long, but sometimes accidents happens and they can get caught in the oddest of places. Trimming the nails at home is a great idea, but again sometimes accidents happen, and you might end up trimming a little bit more than intended.

Anatomy of the Nail

Most mammals have a hard-outer nail surface that is made of keratin and meant to protect the inside parts of the nail. The outside layers will continue to grow long if not worn down or trimmed regularly. The inside of the nail is made up of sensitive tissues with a very good blood supply will also grow longer if it is left undamaged. The inside sensitive layer is known as the ‘quick’ of the nail and will bleed
if it is cut too short or the nail breaks closer to the nail bed. At the base of the nail is bone, much the same as humans. In most cats, they will have white nails so you can visually see the quick, which makes trimming nails easier. In dogs, it can be much more difficult as they may also have black nails which makes the quick very hard to see. When trimming nails at home, it is always safer to take less off the tip of the nail and do this in stages to be sure not to cut too close. If you want your pets’ nails to become shorter, than trimming nails can be done every couple weeks as needed, this will damage the keratin layer and cause the quick to retract closer to the nail bed allowing you to take more off each time and eventually getting the nails to an appropriate length.

Torn Nail? Here Is What You Can Do:

  • Identify which toe is bleeding and asses if the nail is completely off or just broken (you may not spot the place of the break) be careful, your pet will be in pain and might not appreciate it touched.
  • Grab something small and absorbent and apply pressure to the bleeding area. If the nail is still attached then try not to move it.
  • If the nail has completely torn off, you can wait until the bleeding subsides and soak the foot in warm water and Epsom salts baths twice daily.
  • If the nail is still attached, you will need to book an appointment to have it assessed.
  • If the nail is not attached, then it can be monitored for any infection. If an acquired smell or discharge presents, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your Veterinarian.
  • Stop your pet from licking the torn nail- this will lead to infection and antibiotics may be needed.
  • You may need to asses the pets pain level to make sure any pain medication is not required. If they are limping or sore then an appointment should be made.

Trimmed a Nail Too Short? Here Is What You Can Do:

  • Immediately apply pressure to the end of the nail with a towel or something absorbent.
  • Wait till the bleeding lessens and use something to help the quick clot but pressing the nail tip into the powder.
  • Flast Klot- can be bought at any pet store and is a powder used to help stop the bleeding by firmly pressing the nail tip into a pile of powder.
  • Corn starch- can also be used to stop the bleeding by pressing the tip firming into a pile of corn starch.
  • If after using either of these options or you don’t have these items at home you can call your veterinary clinic and advised them you need help.
Written By: Carly Jeffery, RVT