If you accidentally cut your dog’s nail too short, you probably wonder how long it takes for the quick to heal. Cutting the quick is deeply upsetting, as even the toughest dog will howl and yelp. Many dogs may nip or even bite from the sudden pain, which can certainly make nail trims harder in the future.
In some cases, it’s not our fault. After all, dogs frequently break and damage their nails by digging, running, or doing other activities. So how long can we expect a dog’s broken nail to take to heal?
How long does it take for a dog’s nail quick to heal?
If a dog’s quick is nicked during a trim, the sensitive tissue should begin healing within a few hours. That is, the open blood vessels will clot and close quite quickly. However, the nail that is no longer covering the exposed quick can take up to 10 days to regrow and protect the nerves and capillaries that nourish it.
A nail that is completely ripped off will take a minimum of two months to regrow.
If your dog has long nails, they will have a longer quick, making it much harder to avoid damaging it. In these cases, you want to keep trimming the nail every 1 to 2 weeks to encourage the quick to recede. Shorter nails are safer and cause your dog less discomfort.
A proper pair of dog claw clippers is also essential to avoid damaging the nail or the quick. Trying human clippers, scissors, or other devices can cause splitting or cracks that can lead to infection. If you suspect your dog’s nail is infected, see our article on dog’s nails turning black.
If you are wondering what activities are safe for your dog after cutting the quick, see “Can I walk my dog after cutting the quick?“
However, if your dog injured their own nail, you may need to go to the vet to have it removed and for antibiotics to avoid infection. In this case, the nail usually takes over two months to regrow. In many cases, the nail will not regrow properly and will always need extra care.
How long a dog’s nail takes to regrow can depend on your dog’s age, genetics, health, and nutrition. Making sure they have plenty of biotin, fish oil, iron, and other B vitamins in their diet can help the process.
How long does it take for a dog quick to stop bleeding?
If you apply styptic powder or a styptic pencil to your dog nail, bleeding from a cut quick should stop within two minutes. Corn starch or flour on a Q-tip should also do the trick in a pinch. You may need to see the vet if the blood does not stop within 15 to 20 minutes.
Excessive bleeding that does not stop may need the vet to assess the depth of the injury. They may need to surgically remove part of the nail and prescribe antibiotics.
If the injury is severe but the bleeding does not stop, your vet may need to check for a blood clotting disorder such as von Willebrand’s disease.
What to do if your dog keeps reopening quick
If you stop the bleeding but have an active dog that won’t stop digging, running, or jumping, they may keep re-opening the wound. In this case, you spot blood on the floor, furniture, or their bed. To stop this, you may need to:
- disinfect and bandage the paw.
- put special dog booties on the paw if you have them. If not, pull a clean, old sock over the bandage and use a hair band to hold it in place over your dog’s paw. Don’t tie it too tightly.
- Crate your dog or limit their space for a while, but take them for frequent gentle walks to avoid frustration. You can also try laid-back indoor games such as searching a room for treats or obedience training.
- Keep them occupied with puzzle toys or chew toys so they don’t lick or chew on the damaged nail.
- Ask your vet for a cone if they won’t leave the paw alone.
What to do if dog ripped toenail completely off
In the case of broken nails or where the dog nail separated from the quick, a trip to the vet is necessary. But first, there are several steps you can take at home.
Dog Broken Nail Home Treatment
- The first thing to do is stop the nail bleeding. Get someone to hold your dog while you take care of the paw.
- For light cuts, you can always use styptic powder or cornstarch, but for a severely injured nail, you need to apply pressure immediately.
- Disinfect the nail and use gauze to bandage the paw.
At this point, you will need to see your vet for treatment. Your vet should:
- Remove any part of the damaged nail, or possibly the exposed quick surgically to allow the whole nail to regrow.
- Provide you with antibiotics and pain medication to prevent infection and let the broken nail heal.
- Provide you with a cone so that your dog does not lick the wound and reopen it.
Dog Nail Removal Aftercare
- Keep your dog comfortable and in a quiet environment when they get home.
- Make sure they get their pain medication, antibiotics, and other prescribed treatments according to your vet’s instructions.
- Do not allow your dog to be active or move around too much. It can take two or three days before the removed nail heals enough for your dog to resume everyday life, but it will be two months at least before the nail is properly regrown.
- Protect the nail with booties to prevent the wound from opening again.
Removing an injured or infected nail can cost between $200 and $500 dollars, depending on where you live and how bad the nail is. A badly damaged or infected nail can also take two to three months to heal, so keep your dog’s nails trimmed to help prevent unnecessary vet bills.
How to avoid cutting your dog’s quick
It can be tempting to take our dogs to the vet or the grooming parlor to trim their nails. But research shows that nail trimming is quite stressful for dogs, which is made worse by having a stranger do it in an unfamiliar environment.
So it’s essential that we learn to wield our clippers like a pro and do it at home. We discuss this in detail in our article “how can I cut my dog’s nails at home.”
Nevertheless, here are some tips to avoid cutting that sensitive quick.
- Place the clipper flat against the paw pad and cut straight across, to only cut the tip of the nail off.
- Use a clipper with an LED light to shine through the nail and show you where the quick is. You can also use a penlight or a flashlight.
- In the case of black nails, use the salami method:
- Cut the very tip of the nail and examine the underside of the cut part. Look for a gray circle in the center.
- If you spot the gray center, cut another paper-thin sliver off.
- Keeping cutting a sliver at a time, as if you are slicing salami until you see a black dot. This is the inner casing of the quick and your signal to stop cutting.
When in doubt, only cut the very edge off. Most dogs only need their nails cut once a month or so. Active dogs wearing their nails down naturally can go longer without a trim.
However, if you have a dog with overgrown nails, the quick will grow much longer, making it harder to avoid cutting it. In this case, you will need to trim the nails lightly every week or so to make the quick recede and get the nails short again.
Cutting the quick can hurt a dog severely, but luckily the pain does pass quickly. In most cases, your dog will have forgotten all about it within 30 minutes, so long as you stop the bleeding, disinfect, and distract them with a treat.
A more severe nail break will need the vet to prevent infection or permanent damage. Make sure you follow up any nail injuries with something positive to avoid a negative association with nail trimming.
Remember, even though we might prefer a professional to trim a dog’s nails for us, an unfamiliar environment can make it even more stressful for our dogs. So, we should take nail clipping into our own hands.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
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.