9 Reasons For Your Broken Dog Nail With Tips

Broken Dog Nail

Hey there, dog lovers! Today, we’re tackling a common and pesky problem that many dog owners face: the broken dog nail!

But fear not, because, in this article, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know about broken dog nails and how to handle them like a pro.

Let’s get started…

Signs of a Broken Dog Nail

The signs of a broken dog nail can vary, but some common signs include:

  1. Visibly broken or cracked nails: You may be able to see that the nail is broken or cracked.
  2. Bloody nails: If the nail is broken or torn, it can start to bleed.
  3. Limping when walking: Dogs may limp or favor the affected paw when walking due to the pain from the broken nail.
  4. Chewing or licking the paw: Dogs may try to alleviate the discomfort by chewing or licking the injured paw.
  5. Sensitivity when you touch the paw: Dogs with broken nails may display sensitivity or pain when you touch the affected paw.
  6. Pus or crust around the nail: In some cases, there may be pus or crust around the broken nail, indicating an infection.
  7. Brittle nails: Nails that are brittle or prone to breaking may be a sign of underlying issues with nail health.
  8. Swollen nail beds or paws: Swelling in the nail beds or paws may occur due to the injury.

It’s important to note that if the nail is completely torn off or if there are severe symptoms, it is recommended to seek veterinary treatment. Additionally, if you are unable to safely remove the damaged part of the nail, veterinary assistance should be sought.

Causes of Your Broken Dog Nails

The following are some of the most common causes of your broken dog nail:

1. Running on Hard Surfaces

Running on hard surfaces is one of the common causes of broken dog nails. When dogs run on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt, the repetitive impact can put excessive pressure on their nails.

Over time, this can lead to the nails becoming weak and more prone to breakage. The forceful impact can cause the nails to crack or split, resulting in broken nails.

2. Playing on Hard Surfaces

Playing on hard surfaces, such as pavement or rocky terrain, can also contribute to broken dog nails. Dogs often engage in vigorous play, which involves running, jumping, and changing directions quickly.

These activities can put stress on their nails, increasing the risk of breakage. Just like running on hard surfaces, the impact and pressure from playing on such surfaces can weaken the nails and make them more susceptible to breaking.

3. Overgrown Nails

Overgrown nails are another common cause of broken dog nails. When a dog’s nails are not regularly trimmed or worn down naturally, they can become too long and extend past the paw pad.

Overgrown nails are more likely to catch on objects or get stuck in surfaces, increasing the chances of them breaking or tearing. It’s important to regularly trim a dog’s nails to prevent them from becoming too long and brittle.

4. Accidental Trauma

Accidental trauma can also result in broken dog nails. Dogs are curious and active animals, and they may encounter situations where their nails get caught, snagged, or trapped.

For example, a dog’s nail could get caught in carpet fibers, furniture, or other objects, causing it to break. Additionally, accidents or injuries, such as a dog accidentally hitting a hard surface with its toenails, can lead to nail trauma and breakage.

5. Improper Nail Clipping

Improper nail clipping is one of the common causes of broken dog nails. If a dog’s nails are not clipped properly, they can become too long and may start to curl or grow into the paw pad.

Overgrown nails are more prone to breaking or splitting, especially if the dog engages in activities that put pressure on the nails, such as running or playing on hard surfaces. It is important to regularly trim a dog’s nails to maintain their length and prevent them from becoming too long or sharp.

6. Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to broken dog nails. A balanced diet is essential for a dog’s overall health, including the health of their nails. Nutrients such as biotin, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy nails.

If a dog’s diet lacks these essential nutrients, their nails may become weak and brittle, making them more prone to breaking or splitting. Providing a well-balanced diet that meets the nutritional needs of the dog can help prevent nutritional deficiencies and promote healthy nail growth.

7. Fungal Infection

Fungal infections, such as onychomycosis, can cause the nails to become weak and brittle, leading to breakage. Fungal infections can occur when the dog’s nails are exposed to a damp environment or if the dog comes into contact with contaminated surfaces.

Symptoms of a fungal nail infection may include discoloration, thickening, or crumbling of the nail. Treatment for fungal infections typically involves antifungal medications prescribed by a veterinarian.

8. Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections can also contribute to broken dog nails. When a dog’s nails are injured or damaged, bacteria can enter the nail bed and cause an infection.

Signs of a bacterial nail infection may include redness, swelling, pain, discharge, or an unpleasant odor. Treatment for bacterial infections usually involves cleaning the affected area and administering antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

Read more about dog paw infections.

9. Nail Snagging

Nail snagging occurs when a dog’s nail gets caught or snagged on objects such as carpet, furniture, or tree bark. This can cause the nail to tear or break, either partially or completely.

Dogs with long or overgrown nails are more susceptible to nail snagging. Regular nail trimming and keeping the nails at an appropriate length can help prevent nail snagging.

Read more about your dog chewing on paws.

When to Seek Veterinary Care for Your Broken Dog Nail

When your dog breaks a nail, it’s important to assess the severity of the injury. If the nail is only slightly cracked or chipped, you can usually manage it at home by trimming the damaged portion.

However, if the nail is bleeding, causing your dog significant pain, or if the entire nail is broken off, it’s best to seek veterinary care.

A veterinarian can provide proper pain relief, clean the wound, and determine if further treatment, such as antibiotics or bandaging, is necessary.

Diagnosis of Broken Dog Nails

Diagnosing broken dog nails involves a thorough examination of the affected nail and surrounding area. The veterinarian will look for signs of trauma, such as bleeding, swelling, or a visible break in the nail.

X-rays may be taken to assess the extent of the injury and to check for any underlying damage. In some cases, a sedative or local anesthesia may be used to facilitate the examination and treatment process.

Treatment options will depend on the severity of the break and may include trimming the nail, applying a bandage or splint, or, in severe cases, surgical removal of the nail.

First Aid for Your Broken Dog Nail at Home

If your dog has a broken nail, providing first aid at home can help alleviate pain and prevent further complications. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Examine the nail: Carefully inspect the broken nail to assess the severity of the injury. If the bleeding is mild and the nail is partially broken, you may be able to provide first aid at home. However, if the bleeding is severe or the nail is completely torn off, it’s best to seek veterinary care.

2. Stop the bleeding: To stop the bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the area using a clean cloth or gauze pad. Maintain pressure for a few minutes until the bleeding slows down or stops. If the bleeding persists or is excessive, contact your veterinarian for further guidance.

3. Clean the wound: Once the bleeding has stopped, clean the area around the broken nail with a mild antiseptic solution or warm water. This helps reduce the risk of infection. Avoid using harsh chemicals or alcohol, as they can cause further discomfort.

4. Apply a bandage: If the broken nail is causing discomfort or your dog keeps licking the area, you can apply a temporary bandage to protect the wound. Use a sterile gauze pad or a clean cloth and secure it gently with a self-adhesive bandage or medical tape. Make sure the bandage is not too tight to restrict blood circulation.

5. Monitor for signs of infection: Keep a close eye on the wound for any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, discharge, or a foul odor. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian for further evaluation and treatment.

6. Minimize activity: Encourage your dog to rest and minimize physical activity to prevent further injury to the broken nail. Avoid walks on rough surfaces or engaging in activities that could put a strain on the affected paw.

7. Consult with your veterinarian: It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian for proper guidance and to determine if further treatment is necessary. They may recommend pain medication, antibiotics, or trimming the remaining nail to prevent further damage.

Remember, while providing first aid at home can be helpful for minor cases, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can provide personalized advice based on your dog’s specific condition and ensure their well-being.

How to Treat a Broken Dog Nail

Treating a broken dog nail requires careful attention and proper veterinary care.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how a veterinarian typically treats a broken dog nail:

Assessment of the Injury: The veterinarian will begin by assessing the severity of the broken nail. They will examine the nail to determine if it is cracked, split, bleeding, or completely torn off. They may also check for any signs of infection or underlying health issues that may have contributed to the nail injury.

Pain Management: If the broken nail is causing pain or discomfort to the dog, the veterinarian will provide appropriate pain management. This may involve administering pain medication or applying local anesthesia to numb the area.

Cleaning and Disinfection: The veterinarian will clean the affected area to prevent infection. They may use an antiseptic solution or gentle cleanser to remove any dirt or debris from the nail and surrounding area.

Trimming and Shaping: In some cases, the veterinarian may need to trim the broken nail to remove any jagged or sharp edges that can cause further injury or discomfort. They will carefully shape the nail to ensure it is smooth and less likely to snag or catch objects.

Stopping Bleeding: If the broken nail is bleeding, the veterinarian will take steps to stop the bleeding. They may apply a styptic powder or solution to the nail to promote clotting and reduce bleeding. In severe cases, they may need to apply a bandage or pressure to the area to control bleeding.

Applying Topical Medication: After cleaning and trimming the nail, the veterinarian may apply a topical medication or ointment to promote healing and prevent infection. This may include antibiotics, antifungal creams, or other specialized treatments depending on the specific needs of the dog.

Bandaging and Protection: Depending on the severity of the broken nail, the veterinarian may recommend bandaging the affected paw to protect the nail and prevent further injury. They may use a bandage or a protective covering to keep the area clean and reduce the risk of infection.

Follow-up Care and Home Instructions: The veterinarian will provide detailed instructions on how to care for the dog’s broken nail at home. This may include information on how to clean the nail when to change bandages, and any medications or topical treatments that need to be administered. They may also schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor the healing process and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

It’s important to note that the specific treatment approach may vary depending on the severity of the broken nail and the individual needs of the dog. It is always recommended to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment of a broken dog nail.

Preventing Broken Dog Nail

To prevent broken nails in dogs, here are some common ways you can follow:

  1. Regular nail trimming: Keeping your dog’s nails at an appropriate length can help prevent them from becoming too long and prone to breakage. Trim your dog’s nails regularly, following proper techniques and using appropriate tools like nail clippers or grinders.
  2. Provide a well-balanced diet: Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy nails. Make sure your dog is getting a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals necessary for strong and healthy nails.
  3. Exercise and mental stimulation: Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help prevent boredom and anxiety, which may lead to excessive chewing or scratching at nails. Engage your dog in physical activities and provide mental enrichment to keep them active and occupied.
  4. Provide appropriate chew toys: Offering your dog appropriate chew toys can help satisfy their natural chewing instincts and prevent them from chewing on their nails or other inappropriate objects. Choose toys that are safe and durable for your dog to chew on.
  5. Maintain a safe environment: Ensure that your dog’s environment is safe and free from hazards that can cause nail injuries. Remove any sharp objects or debris that your dog may come into contact with and potentially injure their nails.
  6. Regular grooming: Regular grooming sessions, including brushing and bathing, can help maintain the overall health of your dog’s nails. Brushing helps distribute natural oils and promotes a healthy nail bed.
  7. Protect paws during outdoor activities: When engaging in outdoor activities like hiking or walking on rough surfaces, consider using protective boots or paw balms to shield your dog’s paws and nails from potential injuries.
  8. Avoid excessive nail filing: While it’s important to keep your dog’s nails at an appropriate length, avoid excessive filing or grinding, as it can weaken the nails and make them more prone to breakage. Only remove small amounts of nails at a time to prevent over-trimming.
  9. Regular veterinary check-ups: Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your dog. A veterinarian can examine your dog’s nails and overall health, provide advice on proper nail care, and detect any underlying conditions that may affect nail health.

Remember, every dog is unique, and their nail care needs may vary. If you notice any signs of nail problems or have concerns about your dog’s nails, consult with a veterinarian for personalized guidance and recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my dog has a broken nail?

Look out for signs such as limping, excessive licking or chewing of the paw, bleeding, or a visible crack or break in the nail. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

What should I do if my dog breaks a nail?

If your dog breaks a nail, it’s important to keep them calm and comfortable. If there is bleeding, you can apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze pad to help stop it. It’s best to consult your vet for further guidance, as they may recommend trimming the nail or providing pain relief if necessary.

Can I treat my dog’s broken nail at home?

While minor nail breaks may be managed at home, it’s always recommended to seek professional advice from your veterinarian. They can assess the severity of the break and provide appropriate treatment, which may include trimming the nail, applying an antiseptic, or prescribing pain medication if needed.

How can I prevent my dog’s nails from breaking?

Regular nail maintenance is key to preventing nail breaks in dogs. This includes trimming their nails regularly using appropriate tools or seeking professional help if you’re unsure. Additionally, keeping your dog’s nails at an appropriate length can reduce the risk of them snagging or breaking.

Can broken dog nails lead to infection?

Yes, broken dog nails can potentially lead to infection if left untreated or if dirt and debris enter the wound. It’s crucial to keep the area clean and monitor for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice these symptoms, consult your vet as soon as possible.

Are certain dog breeds more prone to broken nails?

Some dog breeds with longer or more fragile nails, such as Greyhounds or Dachshunds, may be more prone to nail breaks. However, any dog can experience a broken nail, especially if they engage in vigorous activities or have an accident. Regular nail care and monitoring can help reduce the risk for all breeds.


In conclusion, remember that accidents happen, even to our furry friends. So, if you notice your dog with a broken nail, don’t panic!

With proper care, love, and a trip to the vet if necessary, your pup will be back on their paws in no time.

Stay vigilant, stay compassionate, and always keep your pet’s well-being at the forefront of your mind.

By Samuel Steve

Samuel Steve has more than 12 years of experience with cats and dogs his the founder of Pet Creeks and currently living with 2 different breeds of cats and a dog, Samuel Steve is here to write and share his years of experience with pets.