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How to Treat a Dog Nail Separated From Quick (8 Easy Steps)

Dog nail separated from quick

Dog nails separating from quick is a very common issue in dogs. Even if it isn’t life-threatening, it should be treated as soon as possible. Not only is it painful for them, but it can also be upsetting to see that they are injured.

As a pet owner, it is your duty to not only soothe them but also to see to it that the injury heals properly. While going to a veterinarian is your best resort, there are first aid procedures you can implement at home to help ease the pain.

In this article, we’ll try to understand all the matters about how a dog nail is separated from the quick. Also, we included some easy steps you can take at home to treat your dog if this happens to them.

Dog Nail Anatomy: What Is a “Quick” in Dogs?

Dog nail anatomy showing the dog nail quick in dogs

The “quick” is the sensitive part on the dog’s nail that contains the blood vessels and nerves that run through the dog’s paw. This vascular structure is primarily found above the nail curve that nourishes your dog’s nails.

If you’re going to look for this on your furry friend with white nails, finding the quick is relatively easy. All you have to do is gently hold your dog’s paw and locate the pink region in the center of each nail — and that’s the quick!

However, locating the quick on black dog nails is more difficult than it is on light-colored dog nails. Usually, it is almost impossible to see the quick through a dog’s dark-colored nails.

Fortunately, you may find luck when looking at your dog’s nails from the bottom since there is usually a groove dividing the hard nail from the soft cuticle.

What Causes a Dog’s Nail to Break? 

Dogs break their nails for many reasons. The most common reason is due to excessive rough play. For instance, when they are super hyper during dog walks, they tend to bump their nails against hard things. 

Since their nails are not as firm as rocks, playing roughly may lead to broken nails. In fact, old dogs or dogs with long nails are more likely to have broken nails as their nails are dry and brittle.

Other causes of how dogs injure their nails are due to fungal infections, nail bed tumors, and improper nutrition. As a responsible dog owner, whatever the cause may be, you should treat your dog’s nails right away!

What Are the Symptoms of a Dog Nail Separated from the Quick? 

Dog broken nail separated from quick

Your dog’s nail bed is so delicate that even a light touch could cause pain. Generally, when dogs are in pain, they become vocal. So, when a nail splits and leaves a dog nail quick exposed, they’ll probably bark or whine to inform you

Some symptoms of dog nail separating from the quick are the following:

  • Limping: Although common, dog limping is undesirable. When a dog exhibits abnormal walking on one or more limbs, it usually indicates pain, a loss of function, or both. Any form of limping is a sign of an illness or injury, just like a broken nail, so you must act if your dog is showing one.
  • Excessive licking: The frequent licking of your pet’s paws may be an attempt at self-soothing. This is due to the fact that a dog’s first response when harmed is frequently to lick the wound in order to clean and treat it.
  • Dangling nail: A dangling nail is a torn skin fragment that hangs carelessly next to your dog’s nails. Even though dogs’ hanging toenails are uncommon, they can be extremely painful when they happen.
  • Swelling of toenail: An infection, a foreign body like a splinter, or, less frequently, an insect bite or sting, could be to blame for the swollen toe on your dog. These should be anticipated since there’s an exposed quick that stems from the dog’s separated nails.
  • Excessive bleeding of the entire nail: The sensitive tissue at the base of the toenail is likely to bleed if your dog’s toenails are cut at the quick. Hence, if the quick is damaged, there is a possibility that the dog’s nail would bleed significantly.

However, if your dog’s nail broke off and the quick exposed is not bleeding, it still needs attention because this could cause some infections. It should always be kept in mind that early treatment is necessary.

READ NEXT: Crusty Scabs Around My Dog’s Mouth (Causes, Treatment & Prevention)

Equipment Needed to Properly Treat Your Dog Nail Separated From Quick

If you’re going to treat your dog’s broken nails at home, you’ll need more than just nail cutters. As pet owners, it is always better to be over-prepared than to be under-prepared.

As much as possible, dog owners should always keep a dog first aid kit on hand since broken nails in dogs are common. 

Here are the tools that you can include in your kit for treating a dog’s nail separating from the quick:

  • Nail clippers: This is a small mechanical tool for clipping your pet’s nails. With this, you will be able to cut longer nails or the brittle nails that are likely to cause nail splits.
  • Styptic powder: This is a special chemical containing benzocaine, a carefully formulated anesthetic with numbing characteristics that can help your dog reduce discomfort.
  • Muzzle: This tool is put over the animal’s snout to prevent them from biting those who are treating their nails. This is especially important if you have a large dog.
  • Bar soap: This is a cleaning product used to keep bacteria and germs away. By using this, the possibility of your dog getting infections would be greatly reduced. 
  • Towel, gauze, or paper towel: This is a piece of absorbent cloth or paper that could hold your dog’s injured nail. Usually, these are used to apply pressure to the wound to stop bleeding.
  • Ice: Ice is usually applied on a swollen paw or injured part. Ice can help to slow or even stop the bleeding since the low temperature induces the blood vessels to shrink.
  • Warm water: Warm water comes in handy when removing dirt and freshening up your dog’s paw and nail area where they are injured. 

Aside from the listed above, preparing some treats may also help your dog forget their discomfort. To keep them calm and give them the sense that they are in a safe place, you might also consider asking someone to hold them.

How to Treat a Dog Nail Separated From Quick (in 8 Simple Steps)

Treating dog nail separated from quick using bandage

While ultimately you can call for a vet immediately, you may give your dog with a broken or split nail a first aid treatment as this kind of injury is extremely painful for them. 

The following are the 8 simple steps on how you can treat your dog with nail injury:

1. Control your dog

The first step you should consider while taking care of the separated nail is having a family member or friend hold your dog. Even the kindest dogs can bite when they are in distress, so be prepared to respond quickly.

If your dog has been taught to wear a muzzle, it will be helpful because you may put it in their mouth before beginning the procedure. You may also use a hug to restrict your dog because it will make them feel safe while immobile.

2. Check the area

With the dog restrained, start inspecting your dog’s nails, paying special attention to the dew claws because it is prone to nail splits. Included in this step is the checking of ticks since they mostly appear between the dog’s nails.

In this way, you will be able to understand your next step in giving your dog a first aid treatment. Usually, the area around their paw and nails may be swollen, red, or inflamed. 

While observing, you must pay attention to the areas of your dog’s broken or split nails. Remember, though, not to touch them as they might get hurt. If you think that it’s safe to proceed, then perform the next step.

3. Stop the bleeding

Putting ice indirectly on the injured part can help to stop the bleeding. Afterward, wrap a clean, fresh towel tightly, and apply pressure for two minutes.

If it does not stop the bleeding, try applying a styptic pencil or silver nitrate stick which you can purchase at a local pet store. These products can also be found in the first aid area in your local drugstore. 

But if any of these are not available, you can also use flour or baking powder to cover the nail. 

4. Take a piece of the nail off

If the nail splits in half or there are weaker nails on your dog’s nail, it must be removed. Even though the removal of this can be painful for your dog, they will feel better after it is done. 

If you are unsure about cutting the nail, it is best to consult your veterinarian for advice. Your vet won’t just help with your dog’s injury but they will also trim the part of the remaining nail.

5. Ensure that the area is clean to prevent infection

Warm water should be used to rinse any dirt or debris off the injured paw. Then, the nail should then be treated with a wound spray or a pet antiseptic in order to make your dog feel better.

In order to reduce more bleeding on the nail bed and avoid contamination, your veterinarian may use antibiotic powder or ointment. Antibiotics can occasionally be taken orally or through injection. 

6. Wrap up the paw

A safe, sterile, and correctly applied bandage is crucial to the healing process as it will help your pet avoid infections. In addition, properly bandaging its paw will help stop bleeding and further damage. 

To ensure that your dog’s paw is covered, you may use gauze, bandage, and first-aid tape. Remember, though, that wrapping it should be done gently and securely. 

If you don’t have these supplies, use a sock instead. To do this, tape the top of a clean sock onto the foot to keep it from falling off. Afterward, slide the paw into the sock to protect the hurt nail.

7. Keep the area clean by replacing the bandage daily

Whether you cover the paw with a clean sock or gauze, make sure it is changed every day and that the wound is clean and free from infection. Pus discharge, swelling, and further bleeding are some manifestations of infection. 

If any symptoms of infection persist for more than a day, consult your vet so they can prescribe antibiotics to stop the infection. After several days of adequate care, the nail should recover well.

8. Setup follow-up check-ups with a veterinarian

Visiting a vet clinic is needed to assess your dog’s nail progress and adjust treatment as necessary to keep them comfortable and healthy.

Ideally, you should do this after giving your dog first aid. In this way, the vet can analyze the situation and determine whether you handled their nails correctly.

While you’re at it, you might also want to check if your pet insurance covers nail injuries. Usually, pain medication and treatment are paid for by pet insurance.

If you want to know how an actual veterinarian deals with broken dog nails, watch this video:

Broken Nail. How a vet fixes a broken dog nail with Dr. Dan.

READ NEXT: Dried Dead Tick on Dog: How to Remove It & What to Do (With FAQs)

How to Prevent Your Dog’s Nail from Breaking

The breaking of your dog’s nail will not happen if there are preventive measures taken. To avoid the inconvenience of a broken nail, the best thing you should do is to keep your dog’s nails trimmed regularly.

Your dog’s nails should be maintained at a proper length. Short nails are preferable, so they are more likely to avoid nail breaks, especially those dogs who usually miss their jumps when hopping. 

Also, by making nail trimming a habit, you’ll have the chance to regularly inspect your dog’s nail health. 

If you are unsure how to properly trim your dog’s nails, you may ask your veterinarian for a brief training session to learn some nail trimming skills. By doing this, you won’t have to go to the groomer every time.

Even so, regular checkups with your veterinarian can be the best thing you can do to prevent your dog’s nails from splitting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Owner checking his dogs broken nail

How Long Does It Take for a Dog’s Nail Quick to Heal?

The answer as to how long a dog’s nail quick heals depends on how deep the wound is. 

If the cutting of a dog’s nail quick is shallow, it will only take a couple of days. Compared to how quickly a human’s nail grows, this is actually pretty fast.

But, if the cut is deeper, it generally takes roughly two weeks to regrow and fully heal.

Can a Dog’s Broken Nail Heal on Its Own?

It is not advised to leave a broken nail with an exposed quick to heal on its own because doing so may result in persistent discomfort and perhaps recurring breaks. 

If you do not feel comfortable taking care of a torn nail, call your veterinarian so they can give the right treatment for your dog.

Can a Dog’s Quick Get Infected?

When trimmed too short, a dog’s quick can get infected. Since it is connected to a bone in the dog’s paw, an injury in the quick could result in bone infections

Often, these infections are caused by broken nails that are left untreated.

Should You Let Your Dog Lick Its Broken Nail?

Although licking may offer some protection against specific bacteria, allowing your dog to lick broken nails has significant risks. This may impede recovery and create hot spots, infections, and other problems.

How Do You Stop a Quick From Bleeding?

​​If a dog nail injury occurs, the styptic powder is a pet parent’s best friend. However, in the event that styptic powder is not available, dab the nail’s tip on a bar of soap or a small amount of flour or cornstarch. 

Get in touch with your veterinarian if the bleeding lasts for more than a few minutes.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Dog’s Broken Nail?

Vet fees for fixing a broken dog’s nail typically range from $200 and $300. This includes $50 to $80 for the examination and supplies, $20 or more for a full nail trim, $20 to $60 for medications, and up to $100 for sedation. 

Final Thoughts

The separation of a dog’s nail from the quick may appear to be merely small damage, but in reality, it can also be a very serious threat. It should be noted that if this is not treated, it could lead to infections, especially in the bones.

To prevent any of these situations, it is advised to keep your dog’s nails short by trimming regularly. This will help minimize the risk of them snagging on indoor or outdoor rough ground.

Also, keep in mind that nutrition has an impact on your dog’s nails. If your dog is unhealthy, its nails may break easily. 

If you have any advice to treat or prevent dog nails that separated from quick, or you have experiences to share, leave a comment below!