Cut to the Quick – When Your Dog’s Nail Bed Becomes Exposed

If you own a dog, you probably already know about the quick and not to cut into it. But did you know that there are problems associated with the quick and your dog’s toenails? Dogs toenails need to be kept short to avoid injury and split nails, but occasionally you may cut the toenail too close or the nail may wear down to the quick.


The quick is the soft, spongy part of the nail that is full of blood vessels and nerves. If the nail is cut at the quick, the quick will bleed profusely. Your dog will experience pain and may not allow you to cut its nails without a struggle. If the dog’s nail wears down to the quick, it is likely that the quick will bleed.

Stopping the Bleeding

When the quick bleeds, the quickest way to stop the bleeding is to use styptic or a product called “Kwik-Stop” on the nail. Occasionally, you can stop bleeding by using cornstarch or flour and packing it into the nail.

To use styptic or “Kwik-Stop,” pack the powder into the nail or hold the styptic pencil into the bed of the nail until it stops bleeding. Some dogs will limp for a time.

Exposed Quicks

Exposed quicks can lead to fungal and bacterial infections. Some conditions can actually cause the nail to crumble away, leaving a painfully exposed quick. These diseases are often auto-immune related and may or may not be hereditary, as they appear more frequently in certain breeds such as Greyhounds and Rottweilers. If the dog’s quick becomes exposed in this fashion, it may be necessary to clean the area and bandage it. You may need to take your dog to a veterinarian for proper treatment.

Toenail Care

Keeping your dog’s toenails properly trimmed will help keep them from cracking and exposing the quick. If you are unable to trim your dog’s toenails, have your veterinarian or dog groomer trim your dog’s toenails regularly.

Washington State University: Clipping a Dog’s Claws (Toenails) Vetinfo: Foot and Nail Problems