Pet Broken Toenail Quick Reference

By Dr. Jessica Maines, Your Home Vet

I get a lot of questions about how to handle broken toenails at home. Here is a quick guide straight from the Vet on how to quickly address a broken nail at home.

*Disclaimer-at the bottom of this blog under “Additional tips” is a slightly graphic image of a broken toenail. This is an example of quick exposure and a situation where you should not try to treat yourself. This is a painful condition and should be treated in a clinic.

What you will need:

  • Styptic powder (substitute Flour, Baking Powder, Corn Starch)
  • Nail trimmers for pets
  • Paper towels or soft cloth
  • Warm water
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • A friend or helper if possible but not always required

This my personal favorite powder and nail trimmer. Available where pet supplies are sold.


If available, have your helper or friend hug your dog firmly to restrain. Your pet may be in pain so be careful.

  1. Pour styptic powder (or alternative powder listed above) onto the lid of the container or take a pinch between your fingers.
  2. Grasp the affected foot and apply the powder directly to the bleeding portion of the toenail.
  3. For styptic powder, apply pressure over the powder with a paper towel or gauze for 10-20 seconds. For alternative powders, apply pressure for 30-40 seconds.
  4. Slowly remove pressure and evaluate for bleeding. Bleeding should have stopped or slowed.
  5. If slow bleeding continues, repeat the process until bleeding stops.
  6. At this point, you can either leave the powder to fall off on it’s own or wait 10-15 minutes and wipe the nail and feet for excess powder.
  7. If the broken nail is still attached, it will need to be removed. Small pieces that are not attached to the quick can be remove with pet nail trimmers. Large pieces and/or pieces attached to the quick or nail bed, should be assessed by a veterinarian for removal. Further cutting or removal of the bleeding tissue should only be performed by your veterinarian.
  8. Keep foot/toe clean for several days and monitor closely for limping or swelling. If limping or swelling occurs, seek veterinary care right away.

Additional Tips:

  • This is a painful condition for your pet so be careful! Even the sweetest pet can act out due to pain.
  • Peroxide will remove blood from hair coat and fabrics.
  • Alternative powders to styptic are not as effective and need to be used for longer time.
  • Making your pet lay down or avoid using the foot for 10-15 minutes will also slow down bleeding.
  • Applying a squeezing pressure on each side of the nail and nail bed will also slow bleeding.
  • Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed regularly (every 2-4 weeks) to help prevent breakage.
  • When in doubt, take your pet to the veterinarian.


Below is an image of a broken toenail. Only a veterinarian or trained professional should treat this condition. The nail is broken at the nail bed and the entire quick is exposed. This is very painful for your pet. If you see this or something similar with your pet’s toenail, do not panic. This is not an emergency but should be addressed by trained professionals as soon as possible.


If you’re in the east Duval County area or Northern St. John’s County and would like an appointment with Your Home Vet, a house call veterinary service, please email us at or call 904-414-4242.

Check out Dr. Maines’ Blog on “Why Veterinarians Love Vaccines” .


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