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Nail Trim Disasters: Can I Walk My Dog After Cutting The Quick?

can i walk my dog after cutting the quick

Even the best professional groomer will sometimes clip the quick when trimming nails and may leave you wondering, “can I walk my dog after cutting the quick?”

If we accidentally cut the quick in a dog’s nail, not only do we hit the blood vessel that nourishes the nail, but we also cut tiny nerve endings. This causes a lot of yelping and sometimes even a nip from our pup.

Our dog’s distress and inevitable bleeding are major sources of anxiety. But will it make activities like walking, bathing, or running too painful for them? Let’s start with how much pain your dog is in if you trim the nail too short.

Does It Hurt A Dog When You Cut The Quick?

It absolutely hurts a dog if the quick is cut during nail trimming. This is because the dog nail is made up of three parts. The first is the hard outer nail that is curved and cone-shaped. It envelopes an inner soft casing, which covers a “quick” or network of blood vessels and nerves.

This means that slicing the quick is a little cutting like the very sensitive skin under our own nails. It stings enough to make the toughest of Pit Bulls howl.

It’s really helpful for dog owners to use a nail cutter for dogs with an LED light attached to show where the quick is when nail trimming. This can go a long way to prevent nail bleeding.

Luckily, even though the initial pain is sharp and can elicit a strong reaction from your dog, it fades quite fast.

Most dogs will forget about it within 20 minutes or even before you stop the bleeding. Much like a paper cut, it will only hurt if it is fairly deep or comes into contact with something that stings.

However, using the wrong equipment, such as human nail clippers, can cause a broken nail. If the break is bad enough and the quick is exposed, the pain will be much more severe, and your dog may need to go to the vet.

Dogs with long nails are most at risk of this issue. This is because the longer the nail is, the longer the quick grows to nourish it. This makes cutting the nails without damaging the quick infinitely harder. Keeping nails trimmed regularly can help the quick recede and save these dogs a lot of future pain.

If you are wondering about the healing time after accidentally cutting the quick, see our article “how long does it take for a dog’s nail quick to heal?”

Can I Walk My Dog After Cutting The Quick?

You can usually walk your dog within an hour after cutting the quick. Provided it was only a small cut, and you stopped the bleeding, there is no reason not to walk your dog. The only matter you want to keep in mind is how deep the cut is and whether you take some precautions.

Firstly, unless you cut too deep, your dog will be on their feet and walking in any case, even if you aren’t taking them out. Nevertheless, it is critical to remember that this is an open wound, and it can bleed a lot.

This is why it’s vital to apply pressure to the wound immediately. Styptic powder or a styptic pencil pressed against the cut should stop the blood within a few minutes. After that, you can simply apply a disinfectant, and your dog will be good to go.

However, if the bleeding does not stop within 15 to 20 minutes, or if you see your dog limping after cutting the quick, they certainly cannot go for a walk. If the bleeding is severe and your dog remains in pain, you need to see a veterinarian.

Dog nails that are damaged, splintered, or broken can lead to dangerous infections. So be sure take a few precautions.

How to walk your dog after a cut quick or damaged nail

If your dog’s quick is cut, keep the walk after light and easy. It’s unwise to take a dog with an exposed quick on a 5-mile run, as their nails will scrape against the asphalt and damage the nail bed further. A walk around the block is fine. Allow the nail a few days to heal before returning to heavy activities such as playing fetch.

Disinfect the hurt nail before and after the walk, keeping in mind that your dog may be exposed to more germs outside the house.

Where can I walk my dog after cutting the quick?

It’s important to keep in mind where you walk your dog if they have a damaged nail or any injury to their paw. The paw comes into contact with any pathogens in the ground, so you want to keep your dog on leash.

Stay on the pavement or dry ground, and try to walk in area without too much traffic to avoid contamination.

Places To Avoid Taking Your Dog If You Cut The Quick

A nail cut too short with an exposed quick can feel a lot like a papercut. With that in mind, while you can walk your dog, watch out for places that infect an open wound or can cause it to sting or burn.

Places to avoid walking your dog after their nails are cut too short include:

  • Areas with dirty water such as swamps, puddles, muddy trails, lakes, or streams.
  • Areas with chlorinated water or salt water, such as the beach or swimming pool, as these can irritate the open wound.
  • Dog parks or other areas which may be contaminated with feces and urine.
  • Long hiking trails or mountainous terrain.

It’s also a good idea to avoid intense activities such as agility or field trials if possible. Working dogs, or excited dogs, will often ignore any pain from their nail, so they may cause more damage by running, jumping, or digging. It’s up to you to keep an eye on any potential risks of injury.

Can I Bathe My Dog After Cutting The Quick?

Yes, you can bathe your dog if you cut the quick in their nail. Provided the injury isn’t serious, there is no reason they can’t have a bath after they can’t be in clean water afterward. Simply make sure you dry and disinfect the nail afterward. Also, only use a gentle, no-tear shampoo to avoid stinging.

If your dog shows signs of pain in the water, take them out immediately.

Also, keep in mind that a cut quick is a negative experience for a dog. So if your dog is still in pain and you put them in the bath, you will make both nail trimming and bathing extra traumatic for your dog. Only bathe your dog after they have had a treat, spent some time with a toy, and long forgotten about their nail.

Final Thoughts

Cutting the quick is a reality most pet parents face sooner or later. Of course, it should be a rare event with practice and a good dog clipper. Avoiding cutting our dogs’ nails is not the solution, as research shows that dogs are calmer if we cut them ourselves at home.

That said, if you do cut the quick, it usually isn’t too serious after the initial shock. Ensure you always cut conservatively so that you never slice too deep. A bit of pressure with styptic powder or corn starch will stop the blood. After that, you can disinfect and take your dog for a gentle walk. Don’t overdo it; avoid grimy or dirty places that could make your dog more vulnerable to infection.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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