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How to Stop a Dog’s Toenail from Bleeding

I wish I had known how to stop a dog’s toenail from bleeding before I cut my dog’s nail too short.  I had no idea it would bleed that much, nor did I realize it would traumatized my dog forever.

Sound a bit too dramatic?  It’s the truth.  My fully grown pit-mix is a total baby who hides when I bring out the nail clippers now.

If you’ve made the same mistake I did and cut into the “quick” keep reading. By the end of the post you’ll be able to stop the bleeding and ease your dog’s anxiety.

How to Stop a Dog’s Toenail from Bleeding with Styptic Powder

Nails cut too close to the “quick” cause pain and excessive bleeding. I think we’ve all had our nails cut a little too short at one time or another and we know how much it stings.

The quick is the layer of skin that lies beneath the nail bed.  

The medical term is hyponychium, but everyone I know calls it the quick. If you’ve ever trimmed your dog’s toenails, you know what I’m talking about.

FACT: “Quick” is an archaic term once used to refer to anything living (alive). The tender skin under the nail contains nerve endings

In a dog with white nails, you can look beneath and see where there is a darker line.  That dark line (sometimes pink or reddish) is where the quick is.

It ‘s hard to see where the quick begins on a dog with black nails.  For that reason, I only clip a tiny bit at a time.

Watch for a circle that appears in the nail. You’ll know you’re getting too close when a greyish circle becomes apparent.

Don’t Do What I Did!

I panicked when figuring out how to stop a dog’s toenail from bleeding.

The amount of blood coming out if that little cut shocked me. If I had taken a doggie first aid course, I would have been better prepared.  As it turns out, I had to rely on instinct.


I remembered the Styptic pencil in the washroom and ran to get it.

First, I used a damp washcloth to clean the area, then I crushed a bit of the Styptic pencil and made a powder from it.

My dog wouldn’t put his paw down so I turned the powder into a paste and applied a thick layer to his paw.

It stung.

My dog yelped and pulled his still-bleeding paw away from me.

I knew I needed to apply more, but at this point, my dog was losing his mind and blood was going everywhere.  I didn’t know I could have tried cornstarch, baking soda, or a bar of soap.

What I Should Have Done

Obviously, I shouldn’t have cut the nail too short. But since that mistake had already been made, the urgency was in stopping the bleeding.

Instead of panicking, I could have tried other (less painful) things.


Cornstarch is a starch powder used to thicken liquid. You’ve probably used it to thicken gravy or soup.

When applied to bleeding skin, the starch combines with the blood, thickens, and slows the bleed.

Cornstarch is a good alternative to Styptic pencils or powders. It turns itself into a thickening agent when mixed with water.

Pour a small amount of cornstarch into a plate or bowl and press your dog’s paw directly into it.  Remove the paw, wrap it up with gauze and strap it with medical tape to keep it in place.

The best thing is that it doesn’t sting to use.

Baking Soda

Baking powder is another home staple that can be used to stop a dog’s toenail from bleeding.

You can stop your dog’s toenail from bleeding using the same method as the cornstarch tip above.

Pour a little baking soda into a bowl and stick the dog’s paw directly into it. You can also apply directly and wrap the paw in a towel or with gauze.

It doesn’t happen immediately, so be prepared to immobilize your dog for at least 5 to 10 minutes. The longer your dog can stay off the paw, the faster it will heal.

Bar of Soap

If you’re really at a loss, you can stick the tip of the nail into a bar of soap. You’ll need to keep the foot wrapped until you can get access to appropriate first aid supplies.

I put a piece of non-stick gauze on his paw and quickly wrapped a bandage around it. Finally, I secured the whole thing by wrapping A LOT of medical tape around it.

What is a Styptic Pencil?

The main ingredient in a Styptic pencil is anhydrous aluminum.  This compound constricts the blood vessels and will eventually stop a dog’s toenail from bleeding.

Where Can I Find Styptic Pencils?

You can find Styptic pencils in the grooming section of most drugstores, or in the first aid department.

Your veterinarian will be able to offer further advice on how to stop a dog’s toenail from bleeding. He/she may even have styptic powder on hand.

A Styptic pencil comes in a clear plastic tube. It looks a bit like a thin piece of chick or a fake candy cigarette.

The instructions are easy, just wet the stick and dab it on the cut.  It stings for a second but should coat the opening enough to block it from bleeding.

Be Prepared to Stop a Dog’s Toenail From Bleeding

It’s important to always have a first aid kit in your house.  Know what’s in it, where to find it, and when it needs to be stocked.

Dog paw injuries are very common and notoriously slow to heal. Minor injuries can be handled at home with the right supplies.

The Bare Basics of A First Aid Kit for Dogs


Learn how to safely remove porcupine quills from your dog.

-non-stick gauze

-Benadryl for allergies and it helps with itch

-medical tape

-Styptic pencil or powder


-antiseptic wipes

-sterile cloth

-a blanket

Stopping a dog’s toenail from bleeding usually requires a clotting agent and firm pressure on the wound.  Expect it to take several minutes to slow down.

Summing it Up

At the end of the day, it’s normal to panic when we see a lot of blood.  If the bleeding continues for a long time or you feel worried, by all means, contact your veterinarian for advice.  The amount of blood and the time it takes to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding is going to depend on how deeply you’ve cut into the quick.

Keep in mind that certain medications, particularly blood thinners, could turn an otherwise normal event into something more dangerous. Always check with your veterinarian, especially if your instincts are telling you that something isn’t right.

I hope this post has given you ideas on how to manage a nail bleed. It’s not pleasant, but it can be controlled. Having at least a basic first aid kit on hand will help. Make sure to keep the kit in a place that’s easy to access. 

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you’ll come back for more because I’ve got a ton of articles ready to publish and I know they’re going to be helpful to you!  

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