Oh no! Your pup hurt himself again and he is coming to you limping. You inspect the leg and notice the problem. He broke a nail and got the dog quick exposed. So, what to do?
Remove any dangling piece of nail carefully without affecting the exposed quick. Dab the wound gently with warm water before applying styptic powder (or cornstarch) on the affected area to stop any bleeding. Close the wound to prevent any infection and monitor it for a few days as it heals.
Dogs break their nails when playing, running or scratching at something. This often happens when the nails are overgrown and become exposed. In many cases, the nail grows back without affecting the dog’s quality of life.
But when the nail breaks exposing the quick, it is a whole different story.
What is a dog quick?
A dog’s claw comprises the outer shell and the inner cuticle. The cuticle holds the nerves and blood capillaries that make up the ‘quick’. One way to tell if the quick is exposed is when blood comes out of the broken nail.
And as you guessed it, it can be excruciating for your dog.
Dog quick exposed – How do you treat it?
The first step is to carefully examine the broken nail. Do you notice any blood oozing out? If yes, then the poor pup has split its nail to the quick.
1. Examine the paw
Take a clean cloth and gently dab at the nail, for a few minutes, to stop the bleeding. Slowly raise the paw to examine how badly hurt your pup is. If the wound is just at the tip of the quick, there will be less bleeding.
For this next step, you might want to muzzle or retrain your dog’s head from moving. Canines don’t like pain and if the slightest touch on the paw is excruciating, they can nip at you to stop. With the dog restrained, start by checking for dangling nail pieces.
2. Cut any dangling nail
Cut any dangling nail without affecting the quick. This prevents any further pain or bleeding on the paw. Sterilize the wound with warm water mixed with pet antiseptic. Be careful not to inflict pain on the poor pup.
3. Stop the bleeding
If bleeding continues, you have to stop it. One way is to use styptic powder which contains Benzocaine and Ferric subsulfate. Benzocaine is synthetic anesthesia that eases pain by numbing the sensory nerves on the quick. Ferric subsulfate is a coagulant that helps stop the bleeding.
Styptic powder stings when applied on any wound. Ensure your dog is well restrained to prevent further harm.
4. Dress up the wound
Close the wound by gently wrapping a bandage around the paw. Do not apply pressure while doing it to prevent your dog from yelping in pain. Also, dressing the wound loosely ensures the bandage does not stick to the wound once it dries up.
5. Monitor the paw for a few days
At this point, the wound is successfully sterilized and closed up to prevent any infection. Continue observing the nail as it heals. Change the dressing where need be. If you are lucky, the quick will heal up on its own without the need for involving a vet.
But you notice any of the following, you have to rush your dog to the vets;
Swelling of the affected paw
Puss oozing out of the wound
Blood mixed with puss
At this point, the wound is infected and needs to be medically addressed. Also, if your dog shows any signs of vomiting or diarrhea when the wound is still fresh, rush them to a vet immediately.
VIDEO: How to Stop Dog Nail Bleeding
Dog quick exposed – How to prevent it?
Your dog is bound to break a nail or two at some point in life. Whenever this happens, carry out the first-aid tips we gave to prevent infection and quicken healing. But is it possible to prevent your dog from breaking a nail and exposing the quick?
Yes, one way to do this is to trim your dog’s nails. Dog nails tend to overgrow if not regularly trimmed.
Long nails can easily get caught on something and become partially torn off or split. This is very painful for your dog
-Jenna Stregowski, RVT, thesprucepets.com
Also, dog nails tend to curl inwards when left to overgrow. This can cause several problems in your dog like;
Painful sores when nails curve and pierce foot pad
Unsightly paw nails
As you groom your dog’s coat, get in the habit of trimming its nails too. You can do this with a sharp nail trimmer bought from a pet store. Never use a dull trimmer as it shreds the nail leading to breakage.
How to trim your dog’s nail
Ensure you are both a comfortable position
Start with one paw and work your way through each nail
As you cut the nail, ensure you do not cut deep into the quick. In white paw nails, the quick is the area at the base of the nail with a pinkish color
For dogs with black nails, the process is harder. A safe way to trim black nails is to cut the par that is half to an inch from the nail base.
If you nip the quick, do not worry. Apply styptic powder or cornstarch to stop bleeding
Regularly filing your dog’s nails is a great alternative to trimming. Also, if your dog gets stubborn during nail trimming, let them be. It is best to take them to a vet to get the nails professionally trimmed.
VIDEO: Trimming Your Dogs Nails – DIY Dog Grooming
When your dog breaks a paw and exposes the quick, no need to panic. Use the first aid tips we gave you to stop the bleeding and dress the wound. Always keep your dog’s nails short to prevent them from breaking in the future.