My Dog’s Nail Has Separated From The Quick!

Photo by Aine on Flickr

As you may already know, cutting your dog’s nails too short can cause your pooch pain and injury. 

If the nail has become separated from the quick or you’ve accidentally cut your dog’s nails to the quick, then read our article below to understand what you need to do and how to prevent as much pain as possible for your furry friend!

What Is The ‘Quick’? 

Your dog’s nail is made up of two major parts. 

Firstly, the quick which is the part containing the blood supply and nerves which sustain the nail.

This is usually slightly pink in colour on white nails but can be dark if your dog has black nails.

Secondly, the nail itself which is commonly white. 

Because the quick contains nerves and blood vessels, if the nail splits from the quick, it can cause major pain for your dog.

Wounded blood vessels also cause heavy bleeding. 

If your dog has black nails, it is often much more difficult to locate the quick. But, you can estimate where the quick is by finding the ‘pulp’. 

This is simply a dark circular part of the nail which appears just before the quick. 

How Can A Dog’s Nail Become Separated From The Quick? 

There are a few different ways that your dog’s nail could become injured this way. As well as being damaged from over-trimming by an owner or groomer, nails that are too long and constantly hitting the floor may cause breakage, especially if your dog is jumping and landing on their nails from a height. 

Dogs can also very easily snag their nails on carpets or fibres or even outside by stubbing their toes on trees and rocks. 

Sometimes, the nails of older dogs become very dry to the point where they are brittle and break very easily. 

So, for the many reasons listed above, it’s important to keep your dog’s nails from becoming too long! 

What Should I Do If My Dog’s Nail Has Separated From the Quick?  

Now we know how much pain damage to the quick can cause, it’s vital to know what to do if this happens to your dog. 

Firstly, if the nail is bleeding you need to apply pressure to the nail wound (not the paw or toe itself) for about two minutes with a clean towel. 

This will help to stop the bleeding and prevent major blood loss. 

It may be a good idea to muzzle your dog while you do this or get someone to calm them and hold their head in place. 

This is because they are in great pain and so may lash out or try and bite at their wound. 

A dog cone would also help while the nail is healing to prevent them from damaging their nail even further. 

Dogs tend to repeatedly lick their wounds. While this isn’t always a bad thing, preventing this would make the wound heal more quickly.

Next, you need to inspect the area.

If a lot of the quick is exposed, then you should take your dog to the vet.

There, the vet will probably remove the entire nail and bandage the wound. If the nail has only split a small amount, then a trip to the vet may not be necessary but a phone call to make sure wouldn’t’ hurt. 

If there is a small part of the nail dangling off loosely then it may be okay to remove it yourself.

But, never attempt to remove a nail which is hanging on or firmly attached to the quick.

This could be really painful for your dog, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Symptoms Of Infection To Look Out For 

When your dog’s nail has separated from the quick there are a few things to look out for which may signify trouble for your pet even if there is no bleeding or obvious pain.

Toe swelling, oozing puss, and bloody puss are all signals that there is something really wrong.

If you see any of these symptoms you should always contact your vet for advice! 

What Equipment Do I Need To Properly Look After My Dog’s Nails? 

If you’re concerned about your dog’s quick being damaged from nail trimming, then there are a number of things you should buy to help you out.

Simply, a good pair of trimmers will make the process a lot easier and will put less pressure on your dog’s nails making them less likely to snap or break.

Some of the best rated clippers can be bought on amazon for as little as $12.

These include Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmers and Millers Forge Nail Clippers. 

Styptic powders, gels, and pencils are also good things to keep in your dog first-aid kit.

These all help to stop bleeding quickly and are used by most dog groomers and vets.

To use them, simply have the powder to hand when trimming and dip your wet finger or the tip of the pencil into some water then into the powder which will stick.

Then, apply it gently to the wound. 

Always be careful as your dog may react badly to this treatment and struggle or bite. Always have someone to help you do this to cause your dog as little stress as possible.

How Else Can You Help To Prevent Your Dog’s Nail Separating From The Quick? 

To help prevent any injury to your dog’s nails, you should always keep your pup’s nails trimmed at all times.

Clipping around once a month and filing afterwards should do the trick. 

Nutrition is also a key aspect of nail health.

If you notice that your pup’s nails break easily then their diet may lack the right nutrients and minerals.

This problem can also damage the teeth and organs so be sure to include fatty acids and oils in their food and pick the best-quality dog food you can afford!

Another thing to keep in mind is that dog’s nails naturally wear down when they walk on hard surfaces.

So, it’s a good idea to take your dog for long walks on concrete to keep their nails from getting too long. 

Can A Dog With A Nail Injury Still Go On Walks?

That being said, if your dog’s nail is currently broken, you need to be cautious about where you take them for walks and how long you walk for.

Avoid woodland walks or muddy ground which may cause the wound to become dirty and infected.

Try to also avoid areas where you dog could easily snag their nail such as long grass.

If necessary, limit walks to short toilet breaks only until the nail has fully healed.

If you dog is limping do not try and make them walk far as this will only unsettle the wound and make it worse.

This will prevent any more damage to the quick and get your dog on the right track to recovery. 

If you do walk your pup, then make sure that their feet are dry and clean when you come home.

You could even try buying them a special medical boot to wear to reduce the chances of infection.

These can be bought from most pet stores or from amazon and vary in colour and sizes.

We recommend a waterproof boot to keep the wound as protected as possible!

Can A Dog Die From A Broken Nail? 

Fortunately, although there is a good bloody supply to your dog’s nails, they are unlikely to die if their nail becomes separated from the quick.

Although the continuous bleeding may seem life threatening and worrying, as long as you apply pressure to the wound and get your dog to the vets as soon as possible, then they are not going to die. 

Although pet owners often freak out when they see that their pooch is injured, you should try to remain as calm as possible.

Just remember that your dog will be okay eventually and seek a vets advice. This will help to calm your own mind as well as minimise stress for your dog!

So, when your dog’s nail has separated from the quick it’s always best to see what your vet thinks, especially if the area is showing signs of infection or continuous bleeding.

Vet bills can be very expensive and split nails are a pretty preventable problem. 

By keeping your dog’s nails trimmed and maintained, you can avoid any unnecessary trips to the vet.

This will save you money in the long run and make sure that your pooch is in top shape.

While it may be your first instinct to panic if your dog’s nail becomes separated from the quick, your dog will be okay and if you follow these simple recommendations, they will quickly recover.

Let us know in the comments your experiences with doggy nail care and any useful tips for our readers!