How to fix my dog's split nails

Updated November 21, 2016

You don't need a veterinary degree to fix your dog's split nail. Split nails can happen naturally from injury or trauma and will likely cause bleeding and pain, affecting your dog's ability to place weight on the affected paw. The source of bleeding is the quick, the sensitive area of nerves and blood vessels in the nail bed, making this situation especially painful for the animal. Remain calm so as not to frighten or stress your pet. Work slowly, be gentle and feed your dog tasty treats to form positive associations with nail repair.

Stop the bleeding by applying a blood coagulant such as styptic powder or a household product like flour or cornstarch. Pack the material heavily onto the nail. Bleeding should subside quickly. If bleeding continues, apply a gauze pad to the nail, wrap it in a tight bandage, and keep the dog calm until bleeding subsides.

Examine the nail for any rough edges and carefully file the surface until smooth.

Clip the nail shorter, avoiding the quick. Should bleeding restart, place a bandage over the nail and apply gentle pressure until it subsides.

Rub an over-the-counter antibiotic cream onto the nail to prevent possible infection. You may want to apply a bandage over the nail to prevent any licking of the medication.

Brush a hardening polish or nail glue over the split to avoid further splitting while it grows out.

Monitor the nail and continue to trim it until the split grows out.


If your dog becomes lame or the foot becomes discoloured or swollen, see your vet as soon as possible. Keep your dog's nails well maintained to avoid splits or breaking. Ask your vet to recommend vitamins that contribute to producing healthy nails. Add 1/2 tsp of olive oil to your dog's food each day to strengthen nails.


Should your dog become aggressive toward you, see your vet for assistance.

Things You'll Need

  • Styptic powder
  • Gauze
  • Bandage
  • File
  • Dog nail trimmers
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Nail hardener or nail glue
  • Dog treats
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