Petriage Clinical Insights

IMPORTANT: This article, which is provided for educational purposes only, is based on published veterinary data and decades of work with pets and pet parents. The information provided here is not designed to be comprehensive but to help you avoid the pitfalls of online misinformation and most importantly, to frame the conversation you should have with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian’s perspective may differ from what is expressed here. Always consult with your veterinarian.

Broken Nail

There are many reasons why a pet might have a broken or damaged nail, including some serious causes such as systemic disease. However, most nail issues are minor and related to trauma, nails that are too long, environmental causes and the lifestyle of your pet.

Excessive licking at an area on a paw, bleeding, yelping, and limping are often signs of a broken or damaged nail.


  • If you suspect a broken or damaged nail you need to carefully inspect your pet's paws in order to determine the extent of the trauma. This and the degree of pain your pet is in will determine if and when veterinary care is needed. 
  • Depending on the degree of the trauma you may see the pink/red quick which is typically covered by the nail.  This is the area that if there is bleeding the blood is coming from.
  • If you noticed multipole deformed/broken/or abnormal nails you should always contact your veterinarian so more serious chronic causes of nail diseases could be ruled out. 


  • Broken nails can be very painful. Use caution so you do not hurt your pet or even get bit yourself. If you have any doubts consult your veterinarian.


  • Bleeding is often noted when the nail is broken and while it can create a significant mess it is very rarely life threatening. Try to keep your pet calm and if possible apply pressure to the area for 5-10 minutes. If you have styptic powder or baking soda, apply it evenly on the affected area. However, if you are not able to stop the bleeding you should contact your veterinarian.
  • Often broken nails must be removed in order to alleviate discomfort and to allow normal growth of a new nail. If the broken nail is very loose you can try to carefully pull it off. However, if you are not sure if it is loose enough or if your dog is in too much pain, your veterinarian will have to treat the area which might require sedation.
  • When indoors, keep the broken nail unbandaged and open to the air to help accelerate healing. Licking is unlikely to cause additional irritation.
  • When outdoors, keep the area clean and protected. Disposable rubber booties, like [Pawz](, may be useful when going outside. 
  • Your pet may need to be on antibiotics and pain medication even if the bleeding has stopped and the nail was successfully removed.  Contact your veterinarian for further advice.