Everything You Must Know About Treating Torn Dog Nails

As a dog owner, you know that proper nail care is quite essential. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, dogs often get torn nails. Whether from overgrown nails, accidents, or rough play, a torn nail can be a painful and frustrating experience.

If your dog is experiencing a painful or torn nail or a cut or cuticle, you’ll want to learn how to treat it. We’ll also discuss preventing future nail injuries through regular trimming and maintenance.

Let’s get started.

Treating a Torn Dog Nail

Step 1: Assess the severity of the injury.

If the nail is only partially torn, you can treat it at home. However, it’s best to seek veterinary care if you’re unsure of the situation or in case of excessive bleeding / completely torn nail.

Step 2: First-Aid for a torn nail.

You can begin first aid at home if the nail is only partially torn.

First, clean the paw and nail with warm water and mild soap. This will prevent any dirt or debris from entering the wound.

Next, apply pressure to the nail to stop any bleeding. You can do this by wrapping the paw with a clean cloth or bandage and applying pressure for a few minutes. Once the bleeding stops, you can apply an antiseptic solution to the wound to prevent infection.

Step 3: Medication for pain relief and infection prevention.

Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to relieve pain and prevent infection. Antibiotics can prevent bacterial infections, while painkillers help your dog feel more comfortable.

Read More: Everything Dogowner Should Know About Clipping Nails

Step 4: Bandaging the affected paw.

Once the wound has been cleaned and treated, keeping the paw clean and dry is essential.

You can wrap the paw with a sterile bandage or use a special protective boot to prevent further injuring the paw.

Important: Change the bandage regularly and keep the paw clean.

Step 5: Follow-up Care and Monitoring

Following up with your veterinarian for regular check-ups is essential to ensure the wound is healing correctly.

They may also recommend that you use a special cone to prevent your dog from licking or chewing the paw.

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How can you notice there is a problem? 

There are several symptoms you will notice when it comes to determining the problem with your dog. You will see certain types of behaviours either change or become more frequent. 

They might start licking their paws more because they are trying to heal the problem which is hurting them. Sometimes dogs will do this because they are cleaning themselves, but if they are continuously licking their paws, it’s because something is wrong. 

You also need to see if they are limping and trying not to put any pressure on the paw. If you can see them trying to keep it in the air instead of on the ground, you should immediately check it out. 

If they are quite resistant when you touch the paw, this could be another indication for you. They will try and protect their paw if they think someone will come and touch it and can get very defensive over it. 

If you can clearly see that the nail is not in the right position, then there has been a split or breakage. Sometimes the nail can twist to a weird angle when broken, which can be very painful for your pet. 

Swollen or blown-up paws are another physical sign of something wrong with the nail. 

How to prevent torn dog nails?

You must trim and maintain your dog’s nails to prevent torn nails. Keeping nails at an appropriate length, choosing appropriate surfaces for exercise and play, and protecting nails during grooming and other activities are crucial for prevention.

1. Regular nail trimming and maintenance

Monthly nail trimming is sufficient for most dogs, while others may require more frequent trimming. You could consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer regarding the frequency.

When trimming your dog’s nails, it’s essential to use proper techniques to avoid damaging the nail and causing pain or injury. Start trimming a few nails and gradually work to the desired length.

If you accidentally cut the quick, the blood vessel that runs into the nail can cause bleeding and pain. Keep styptic powder or cornstarch on hand to help stop the bleeding if this occurs.

2. Keeping nails at an appropriate length

Keeping your dog’s nails at an appropriate length is crucial in preventing torn nails. Nails that are too long are more likely to snag or tear, while nails that are too short can also cause discomfort and pain.

As a general rule of thumb, the nail should be trimmed so it doesn’t touch the ground when your dog is standing.

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3. Choosing appropriate surfaces for exercise and play

Rough or abrasive surfaces like concrete or gravel can be particularly hard on their nails. Instead, try to exercise your dog on softer surfaces like grass, dirt, or sand.

If you must walk your dog on hard surfaces, consider using protective booties or paw wax for additional protection.

4. Protecting nails during grooming and other activities

When clipping your dog’s hair or fur, be careful not to accidentally clip the nails. Additionally, use caution when playing rough with your dog or when they are playing with other dogs to avoid accidental nail injuries.

Read More: How To Remove And Prevent Dog Paw Calluses 

Other Common Nail Injuries in Dogs & Their First-Aid

While a torn nail is a common injury among dogs, it’s not the only nail injury that pet owners should be aware of. Look closely at the paw and nail to determine the location and severity of the injury.

You should also assess your dog’s behaviour and demeanour, as some injuries may cause significant pain and discomfort.

1. Broken Nails

Broken nails can occur when a dog’s nail is partially or completely cracked or broken. This can happen due to trauma, such as getting a nail caught in something or underlying health conditions that weaken the nail.

Symptoms: limping, bleeding, and visible damage to the nail.

To treat a broken nail, gently clean the area with a cloth or gauze. If there is bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the area to stop the bleeding.

You can also apply a styptic powder or gel to help stop the bleeding. If the nail is only partially broken, you may be able to trim the loose portion of the nail.

However, if the nail is completely broken, seek veterinary care immediately. Your vet may need to remove the entire nail and provide additional treatment to prevent infection.

How to Treat a Torn Dog Nail

2. Ingrown Nails

Ingrown nails occur when a dog’s nail grows into the surrounding skin, causing pain and discomfort. This can happen when nails are allowed to grow too long or need to be trimmed properly.

Symptoms: limping, swelling, and redness around the affected nail.

To treat an ingrown nail, soak your dog’s paw in warm water for 10-15 minutes to soften the nail and surrounding skin. Gently lift the nail away from the skin with tweezers or nail clippers.

Be careful not to cut the skin or quick, which is the sensitive part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves.

If the ingrown nail is severe or if you’re uncomfortable treating it at home, seek veterinary care.

3. Nail Bed Infections

Nail bed infections can occur when bacteria or fungi enter the nail bed, causing inflammation and pain. This can happen due to injury, underlying health conditions, or poor hygiene.

Symptoms: swelling, redness, and discharge from the affected nail.

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s nails and to seek veterinary care if you notice any signs of injury or infection. Prompt treatment can help prevent further damage and improve your dog’s health and well-being.

To treat a nail bed infection, gently clean the area with warm water and mild soap. Apply an antibacterial ointment or cream to the affected area and cover it with a clean bandage.

See veterinary care if the infection does not improve within a few days or worsens.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will a dog’s torn nail heal on its own?

A torn nail may heal independently depending on the severity of the injury. If the nail is only slightly torn or broken, it may grow independently without complications. However, if the nail is severely damaged or the quick is exposed, it may require veterinary treatment.

It is always best to have a professional evaluate the injury to determine the appropriate action.

2. How can I prevent my dog from tearing its nails?

Regular nail trimming and maintenance, keeping nails at an appropriate length, and avoiding rough or abrasive surfaces during exercise and play can help prevent torn nails. Protecting nails during grooming and other activities can also reduce the risk of injury.

3. Can I use human pain medication for my dog’s torn nail?

You should consult a veterinarian before giving your dog human medication. Many common pain medications for humans can be toxic to dogs and cause serious health complications.

4. How often should I trim my dog’s nails?

The frequency of nail trimming will vary depending on the dog’s breed, lifestyle, and activity level. Generally, dogs should have their nails trimmed every 4-6 weeks, but some dogs may require more frequent trimming. Regular nail trimming can also help prevent nail injuries.


  • Jonathan Spaeth

    I'm a professional business person who loves dogs. I'm motivated by a passion for dogs and a deep understanding of pet care and behavior. I have more than 10 years of experience in animal healthcare—my lifelong passion for helping dogs.

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