Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Linda Richard
Some parts of the dog grooming process can be tricky and even stressful. For example, did you cut your dog nail too short – is infection an issue? Here’s a rundown on the issues of infection, blood, and everything you need to know if you’ve encountered such a problem.
The fear of such issues often dissuades a lot of people from even trying to cut their dog’s nails themselves and that’s understandable. Yet, if you read on you’ll find that the problem really is quite manageable and easy to avoid once you get the hang of things.
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So, You Cut A Dog Nail Too Short – Is Infection A Concern?
Any open wound brings with it the risk of infection and cutting a dog’s nails too shortfalls under that category as well. Doing this is usually called “quicking” the nail or cutting the “nail’s quick” – that’s the nerve and blood vessels that run through the center of the nail.
If you do cut the quick and you don’t stop (or even notice) the bleeding soon enough, an infection can likely develop. However, if you treat the bleeding adequately, such risks will be kept to a minimum.
Why Does my Dog’s Nail Bleed After a Haircut?
Unlike a human nail, a dog’s claws are thick and have a “pulp” with blood vessels running through it. If you hurry, not being careful, you can cut them too short. Many dogs do not like the nail trimming procedure and can twitch, climb with their muzzle or in any other way interfere with the owner in this important matter, and if you cut the dog, there can be quite a lot of blood, and with a squeal, the dog running away from you will leave a trail of blood on the floor and furniture. Apart from that, there is no reason to panic.
How To Stop Dog Nail Bleeding?
So, I cut my dog’s nail too short and it won’t stop bleeding – what should I do? The easiest solution is to grab styptic powder or a styptic pencil, typically known as “the shaving cut stick”. They can be purchased from most pharmacies and pet stores and are made from a powdered crystal of alum block and a wax binder. Ideally, you’ll have gotten some first so that you’re ready in case you quick your dog’s nails.
What is Hemostatic Powder For Dogs?
Hemostatic powder stops bleeding from nail clipping and minor cuts in pets. The powder contains ingredients that help relieve pain and prevent fungal and bacterial infections.
Key Benefits of Hemostatic Powder for Dogs:
- stops bleeding with minor cuts and during trimming of claws;
- contains components for pain relief;
- composition includes effective hemostatic components;
- prevention of bacterial and fungal infections;
- does not stain wool.
How to Apply Hemostatic Powder:
- apply the powder to the palm of your hand (you can use a rubber glove);
- hold the powder on the injured nail, pressing lightly, for 10 seconds or until the bleeding stops completely;
- keep container tightly closed to prevent moisture from the air and hardening.
Of course, if you’ve ever used styptic sticks after shaving, you should know that they can sting a bit. This won’t be pleasant for your dog but the cutting of the quick itself would be painful as well. So, be ready to handle and calm your dog while you’re disinfecting the quicked nail.
Alternatively, some cornstarch mixed with baking soda can work as well. After using either remedy, you should compress the wound for a couple of minutes using a clean piece of cloth or a paper towel.
Doing this properly should minimize the risk of further bleeding and infection. If the bleeding continues you can also try wrapping an ice block around the nail with some cloth. After the bleeding has stopped you should wash the paw with lukewarm water and bandage it. This last part is crucial to prevent licking as that will often lead to infections.
Other Problems That Can Occur If You’ve Cut A Dog Nail Too Short Aside From Infection
If a dog nail is cut too short pain is all but guaranteed, however, there aren’t many other major problems you should watch out for other than an infection. Hypothetically, you can split your dog’s nail if you cut it really poorly but that’s unlikely. In either case, if you notice any problem or you don’t manage to stop the infection or the bleeding, you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
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How To Tell if Your Dog’s Nails are Too Long?
Normally, when the dog is standing, the claws should be a few millimeters above the floor. A good rule of thumb is to trim your dog’s nails as soon as they start to touch the ground. If your pet began to make a characteristic clatter when walking on the floor, it’s time to cut its claws.
On average, it is necessary to trim the claws 1-2 times a month. It depends on the lifestyle of the pet, its breed, age and individual characteristics. If the dog walks a lot and grinds its nails naturally (on the asphalt), the procedure will be needed less often.
Why Cut Your Pet’s Nails at All?
Dog claws grow rapidly throughout their lives and need just as much care as cat claws.
In the wild, the closest genetic relatives of dogs take care of their own paws. Every day they cover huge distances, and their claws grind down on a hard surface naturally. But with pets, the situation is different. On a walk, in contact with the asphalt, the claws also grind slightly. But in order for them to grind sufficiently, it would take a long time to walk on asphalt. However, it is much more pleasant to walk with a dog in special areas and in parks where the surface is soft. Therefore, grinding naturally does not occur.
If the dog’s nails are not shortened, they will grow back and grow into the skin, causing inflammation. Strongly overgrown claws interfere with walking and deform the paw.
How To Properly Cut Your Dog’s Nails?
We’ve written more extensively on dog nail clipping before but the quick and simple steps go like this:
- Get your dog used to the nail clippers/trimmers first.
- Position the dog somewhere comfortable.
- Examine the nails and look for the quick. In lighter nails, it should be easily visible. In black nails, it won’t be until you start cutting near it.
- Make a quick and light cut at the very tip of the nail where you’re certain the quick doesn’t reach. Examine the cut area to try and see the quick through the nail – if you see a pinkish-red (in white nails) or grey (in dark nails) dot, that’s the quick and you shouldn’t cut any further. If you don’t see it, you can cut a little more.
- If your dog gets restless, take a break, offer some pets and words of encouragement, as well as a treat, and continue. Remember that the whole experience needs to become not just a habit but be outright pleasant for your pet if you want to do it regularly.
- Once you’ve clipped the nail, it’s wise to round the edges with a file or a nail grinder.
- Offer up another treat, some pets, playtime, or a walk to reward the dog for the patience. This way, your pet will learn that nail trimming has a happy ending and will be even more patient in the future.
How To Train a Dog To Cut its Nails?
Accustoming to cutting nails, as well as to other care procedures, is better to start from childhood. The sooner the pet gets to know them, the calmer it will react to them. Little puppies don’t need to cut their nails, but you can “feign” the procedure to get your little one accustomed to touch. To do this, simply massage the paws with your fingers, and then gently touch them with the tool.
For the first time, it is enough to trim 1-2 claws and look at the dog’s reaction. If all is well, treat all claws. But if the dog is nervous, stop the procedure and return to it after a couple of days. Do not turn grooming into stress: it should evoke only pleasant associations in your pet. After all, this is another reason to chat with your favorite owner!
What To Do if The Dog Has Injured The Claw?
Suddenly you notice blood on the dog’s paw, he limps and licks his paw. On examination, the reason becomes clear – a damaged claw. Nail problems, especially a torn or broken claw, are common in dogs and are rarely life-threatening. However, it is usually very painful.
The claws often get caught in the fabric or carpets, and in an attempt to escape the dog may injure or pull out the claw. You may not notice this until blood appears or the dog begins to limp or whine. Left untreated, an injured nail can bleed intermittently and become infected, not to mention causing pain and discomfort to your dog.
Some dog claw injuries can be treated at home if your dog allows it, but veterinary treatment can reduce the chance of infection and also make it easier to remove the damaged claw. Depending on the degree of damage to the claw, it is often sufficient to remove the claw. This is easiest done with a nail trimmer. After removing the broken part, the veterinarian may apply a temporary bandage to stop the bleeding. He may also prescribe an antibiotic to rule out infection.
The good news is that dog nails grow much faster than humans. It usually takes only two to three weeks for the nail to grow back and quickly cover up.
Additional Tips and Tricks To Avoid Infection and Problems If You’ve Cut Your Dog’s Nails Too Short
This all sounds well and good but dog nail trimming can still feel overwhelming and difficult sometimes. So, here are a few more tips to get through the whole adventure without getting any deep cuts, bleeding, and/or infections:
- If your dog has joint problems or weak legs, it’s a good idea to get your pet used to lying down while you’re cutting his or her nails.
- For especially restless dogs, you may want to get a nail clipping harness. And, if this sounds like an unnecessary purchase, we’ve even mentioned a few DIY options in that article.
- If your dogs’ nails are too long, their quick will be quite long too. So, you can’t just cut the nails short immediately. Instead, you’ll need to regularly cut them a little bit and maintain them as short as possible without “quicking” them. This will stimulate the quick to “retreat” and get shorter and shorter together with the nail.
- Going to a dog’s groomer is a good option if you really don’t want to have to cut your dog’s nails. Dog groomers are very experienced in that area. Plus, they’ll also be able to take care of your dog’s other needs too. For example, bathing, brushing, de-shedding, eye and ear maintenance, hair detangling, skin health inspection, dental hygiene, and more. The experience and proficiency of the groomer are important, of course, as an inexperienced groomer can also quick your dog’s nails by accident.
All in all, cutting your dog’s nails too short can be painful, unfortunate, and risky. You’ll need to take immediate action to prevent infection and stop the bleeding. However, with a bit of preparation and care you will both prevent such issues and be ready should they occur.