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Ready to eliminate the stress and overwhelm of nail trimming? Here is the ultimate DIY guide for how to stop dog nail bleeding FAST!
Imagine a world in which trimming your dog’s nails was enjoyable, stress-free, and never included hitting the quick and causing the dog’s nail to bleed. And further, if you did cut your dog’s nail too short, you would have full confidence and knowledge on how to stop dog nail bleeding (with and without styptic powder).
If that sounds like an impossible dream to you, keep reading.
In this post, you will learn 7 of the best ways to STOP a dog’s nail from bleeding and PREVENT it from ever happening again.
Let’s get started…
7 Ways to Prevent & Stop Dog Nail bleeding
1. Watch Dog Behavior for Calming Signals and Signs of Stress
In 5 Subtle Signs of Stress in Dogs: How To Take the Fear Out of Nail Trims , I shared the top 5 signs of stress in dogs during a nail trim.
When it comes to calming signals and signs of stress in dogs, you will often see a change in behavior in your dog before you actually hit the quick.
For example, I have noticed that when I get very close to my dog’s nail quick, I notice a paw tense, a lip lick, and a head turn slightly away.
Of course, I can visually see that I am getting close to the quick just by looking at the nail, however, paying attention to my dog’s behavior is an incredibly powerful indicator as well.
On Talking Terms With Calming Signals
This book was life-changing for me! It caused me to view my dogs and communicate with them in a whole new way. It’s a must-have for every dog owner’s home library!
2. Check Your Behavior – Stay Calm and Don’t Overreact!
If you do hit the quick when you are cutting your dog’s nails, the most important thing to do is stay calm. Do not freak out or overreact.
No matter how your dog responds, if you react, it will make matters worse.
Here’s the deal. When you accidentally cut your dog’s nail too short and it bleeds, there is no amount of you feeling bad, guilty, or sad that is going to make the blood or minor pain go away.
Your dog still has a nail that needs attention and more nails that need to be trimmed.
How are you going to do either if you are flipping out?
Remember what they tell you on the airplane about the oxygen masks:
“Secure your mask on first, and then assist the child.”
The reason they tell you to do this is that you are no help to that child if you can’t breathe.
Likewise, if you are freaking out about a bleeding dog nail, your dog is left bleeding and likely freaking out as well.
4 Tips to a Stress-Free Response to Dog Nail Bleeding
1. Define It
Do not give this event more meaning than it deserves.
Yes, you clipped your dog’s nail too short. Yes, it bled a little. And yes, there was a little bit of pain involved as the quick contains the blood and nerve supply to the nail.
But cutting a dog nail too short is neither life-threatening nor extremely painful.
Read more about some of the myths associated with cutting dog nails where I expand on this point in more detail: Top 7 Most Popular Myths about Cutting Dog Nails – Busted!
2. Don’t Be a Bad Example
Remember that your dog’s behavior feeds off of your own. So when you freak out, so does your dog.
The less you react, the less memorable the incident will be for your dog.
3. React with Force-Free Calm
My advice is to act as nothing happened. Try not to flinch or move in any way and when your dog moves his paw away, which he most likely will, let him.
Don’t grab your dog’s paw and force him to stay. The less pressure you put on the paw, the less likely your dog will be to resist you.
What you don’t want is your dog’s behavior to look like this:
“Hey, that hurt! And now you’re grabbing me and won’t let me go! Get me out of here!!”
This is called the Freedom Reflex and you DO NOT want to illicit that. It is one of the most powerful reflexes our dogs have.
When restrained, nothing else matters. They want to be free. 
The best approach is to sit calmly while your dog’s behavior goes through these stages:
“Ouch, that hurt! Oh, ok…. It’s ok. I’m ok. Let’s keep going. Where were we again?”
4. No Apologies
Additionally, there is no need to apologize to your dog, say aww, or tell him he’s ok.
If you have children, then you know the type of verbal response I’m referring to.
When your child falls down, gets up and seems ok. However, as soon as you ask “Oh no, are you ok?” he starts crying.
Let’s not do that.
Depending on the severity, you may be able to wait a few seconds and resume trimming. However, if you need to stop the dog nail bleeding fast, keep reading to learn how to do that.
3. Using Styptic Powder (Kwik Stop) to Stop Dog Nail Bleeding
The most common treatment used to stop a dog nail from bleeding is called styptic powder (also spelled stiptic powder). Like Kleenex, the brand name most associated with styptic powder for dogs is called Kwik Stop.
Styptic powder is an antihemorrhagic agent that promotes hemostasis (i.e. stops bleeding). It does this by contracting tissue to seal injured blood vessels.
The benefit of using styptic powder to stop bleeding is two-fold. It can force the blood vessels of the quick to contract back into the claw, whereby preventing blood from flowing out.
And in addition to clotting the blood, styptic powder can also prevent bacteria surrounding the wound from entering your pet’s bloodstream.
In other words, styptic powder acts as a clotting agent and an antiseptic.
A terrific item to have on hand when trimming dog nails.
What is Styptic Powder Made of?
If you are like me, you want to know not only what is in the products you are buying but also why those ingredients are there.
The ingredients in styptic powder will vary slightly from product to product with the primary active ingredient being either Ferric Subsulfate or Potassium Aluminum Sulfate.
Interestingly, all of the products I found that are sold commercially contain some form of aluminum.
Active Ingredients in Styptic Powder
One of the following is used in commercial styptic powders:
- Potassium Aluminum Sulfate  Also called Potassium Alum. Used for its astringent (shrinking and constricting body tissue) and hemostatic (blood clotting) properties.
- Ferric Subsulfate – An effective hemostat that also works to clot the blood.
Inactive Ingredients in Styptic Powder
- Diatomaceous earth – Activates blood clotting. Oven-dried diatomaceous earth is 80–90% silica, with 2–4% alumina (aluminium oxide). 
- Bentonite (Montmorillonite clay) – Used as a detoxifier and antibiotic to prevent a bacterial infection. According to Dr. Axe, “[Bentonite clay] absorbs the liquids that is comes into contact with and expands to extract toxins from the liquid.” 
- Aluminum Chloride – Most commonly used hemostat because it doesn’t lead to pigmentation of the skin. 
- Benzocaine – Some formulas of styptic powder will add benzocaine as a local anesthetic or pain reliever because it deadens the nerve endings in the skin.
Directions on How to Use Styptic Powder to Stop Dog Nail Bleeding
Most of the time when you cut your dog’s nail too short, the bleeding will be so minor, no action will be necessary.
However, if the nail quick has been clipped to the point that significant blood is flowing, take the following steps to stop the bleeding:
- Grab a pinch of styptic powder and press it on the dog’s nail for a 20-30 seconds.
- If the toenail continues to bleed, apply a little more styptic powder and press for another 30 seconds.
- Try to keep your dog still. Encourage him to lay so the nail is not touching the ground.
- You can dab the dog’s nail with a towel or cloth, but be careful to not rub too hard. The styptic powder is working to clot the blood and you don’t want to disturb that process.
- If the nail starts bleeding after the bleeding stopped previously, repeat the same procedure
- If the nail continues to bleed for 20-30 minutes in spite of these efforts, it means proper clotting is not taking place and a veterinarian should be called.
- To prevent bacterial infection, consider washing the affected toenail with warm water and Epsom salt and dabbing some betadine on it.
- If your dog’s toenail becomes red or swollen after a few days, consult your veterinarian about a possible infection. This will be very rare in my experience. In the many, many years I have been cutting dog nails, I’ve never had one get to this point.
You may be wondering how long it takes for a dog nail quick to heal once the bleeding has stopped.
While it will depend on the severity of the cut, most nail quicks heal within a day or two with the nail growing past the quick in 1-2 weeks or less.
Additional Uses for Styptic Powder
Styptic powder is commonly used for tail docking as well as for minor cuts or scratches on dogs.
I have also heard that some people will use it as a supplemental treatment for hot spots, however, I can’t confirm the effectiveness of styptic powder for hot spots.
Styptic powder is safe to use on minor cuts in humans as well. For example, if you nick yourself shaving.
Precautions For Using Styptic Powder
Styptic powders are damaging to tissues. That’s why they work so well to stop dog nails from bleeding.
However, deep or large wounds should not be treated with styptic powder. Although the bleeding will stop, deep wounds can become contaminated and infected which can delay healing.
4. Alternative Products You Can Use to Stop a Dog’s Nail from Bleeding
The following are some styptic powder substitutes you may consider if you don’t have access to a product like Kwik Stop (Quick Stop, Quik Stop) for dog nail bleeding.
Styptic Stick or Styptic Pencil
Styptic Pencils are basically the same thing as styptic powder, however, most contain silver nitrate. Silver nitrate may not only sting a little, but it can cause permanent skin discoloration as well. Not as relevant to dog nails, however, if you wanted to use a styptic pencil for a minor human cut, these might be important considerations.
A back up option for bleeding dog nails.
Alum block is made of potassium alum, a naturally occurring mineral with natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties. These are commonly used for men’s shaving products but would work nicely for dog nail bleeding as well. 
Another option for dog nail bleeding.
Cornstarch, Flour, or Baking Soda
All three of these will work to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding in a pinch. While they do not work as well as actual styptic powder, or even a styptic pencil, they will aid in the coagulation of the blood so are moderately effective options.
For severely bleeding dog nails, you may need to apply more than a few seconds of pressure to the nail to stop the bleeding. You can accomplish this with a bandage and some vet wrap. You may consider slipping a sock over it to ensure the wrap stays in place for as long as possible. For more on how to properly bandage a dog’s paw, read here.
5. How to Stop A Bleeding Dog Nail with Aluminum-Free DIY Styptic Powder
With more and more data out there about metals in our environment and in the products we use, some believe that the accumulation of aluminum in our systems (or our dog’s) may contribute to health issues.
Because of this many people choose to avoid aluminum where possible in the products they buy.
If you are someone who is concerned about aluminum, I am offering this DIY Styptic Powder as an alternative that you may be interested in. I got the idea for this here, however, I have adapted it with some additional ingredients which are particularly beneficial for dogs.
The following is a recipe for an all-natural styptic powder substitute that offers similar wound healing, antibacterial, and analgesic properties, but without aluminum.
Once made, this DIY stop-bleeding powder has no expiration and can be used for all sorts of minor cuts and wounds in both dogs and humans.
Ingredients in DIY Styptic Powder for Dogs
Powerful coagulant. Here is a fascinating article on the use of cinnamon in women with primary dysmenorrhea where they showed that:
“Cinnamon has a significant effect on reduction of pain, menstrual bleeding, nausea and vomiting due to primary dysmenorrhea, and with respect to no reported side effects, cinnamon can be regarded as a safe and effective treatment for primary dysmenorrhea.” 
Dried Calendula Flowers (Calendula officinalis)
Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, with superior wound healing. I recommend using calendula for making dog callus elbow butter as well.
Use for styptic powder, a soothing balm, or even a tranquil tea.
Dried Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
This herb has been shown to help stop nosebleeds and reduce pain with its anti-inflammatory properties. According to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, “Yarrow stands out as a top remedy to stop wounds from bleeding.” 
Dried Yarrow Flowers
One of the best natural ways to stop bleeding.
Effective antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Primary benefits are reducing inflammation and bleeding coupled with wound healing properties.
A great natural remedy for inflammation and bleeding.
Dried Comfrey Root or Leaf (Symphytum officinale)
Pain-relief and anti-inflammatory properties. Comfrey contains small quantities of Pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause liver damage, but in this quantity and using topically, these do not pose a risk.
Dried Organic Comfrey Root
For natural pain-relief and anti-inflammatory properties.
Powerful anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant, and pain-reliever. Turmeric paste (golden paste) is one of my top recommendations for natural pain relief because I have seen it work so well for my Junior. Read more about how I make and use turmeric for pain relief in dogs here.
Organic Turmeric Powder
Hands down, one of the best natural supplements for pain relief!
Bentonite (Montmorillonite clay)
As I mentioned above, bentonite clay is used as a detoxifier and antibiotic to prevent bacterial infection. 
Sodium Bentonite Clay
Detoxifier and natural antibiotic.
How to Make Aluminum-Free DIY Styptic Powder for Dogs
You can find more video tutorials on my Youtube Channel
6. How to Prevent Dog Nail Bleeding Before It Occurs
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This axiom certainly rings true when it comes to cutting dog nails.
I would much rather avoid hitting the dog nail quick altogether, than deal with the aftermath when I don’t.
Here are a few tips on how to prevent cutting your dog’s nails too short to begin with.
1. Use the Dog Nailpro™ Method
The Dog Nailpro™ Method for trimming dog nails includes a very specific process for conditioning your dog to love getting his nails cut.
The effectiveness of this method and the schedule with which I train people to work with their dogs ensures the dog nail quick is avoided 99% of the time. In fact, I haven’t hit my dog’s quick in over a year using the Dog Nailpro™ Method!
Does Your Dog enjoy nail trims?
In my course, Dog Nailpro™, I teach you how to cut your dog’s nails without force, fear, or frustration. Join the waitlist today and get a FREE printable to get you started!
2. Increase the frequency of dog nail trims
The reason is that the quick grows with the dog nail. The longer you wait in between trims, the longer that quick gets.
In Dog Nails Too Long? The Truth About Why Size Matters, I provide a detailed explanation of what happens inside the dog nail when it grows, as well as the consequences of dog nails that are too long or extremely overgrown.
3. Quick Starter Guide
If you want a detailed, step-by-step graphical tutorial on how to trim dog nails without hitting the quick, download this FREE Guide. Not only does it provide everything you need to know about the dog nail quick, but it walks you through EXACTLY how to avoid hitting it.
Remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
7. Get Help with Dog Nail Trimming
At the end of the day, if the mere threat of accidentally cutting your dog’s nail too short, hitting the quick and making your dog’s nail bleed still freaks you out, consider getting help.
You CAN learn how to trim your dog’s nails the right way AND have your dog enjoy it.
The easiest way to avoid ever hitting the dog nail quick is to have your dog by your side never pulling his paw away in fear.
In my experience, it’s the “paw pulling dance” as I called it in 5 Subtle Signs of Stress in Dogs: How To Take the Fear Out of Nail Trims, that make an owner’s job of clipping nails so hard.
Alternatively, it is the calm confidence that comes from proper conditioning with the Dog Nailpro™ Method that makes all the difference in the world.
If you would like to learn more, you can sign up for the early interest list here.
Let’s recap a few of the key components to effectively stopping a dog’s nail from bleeding and ensuring that your dog is not scarred for life in the process.
7 Easy, Stress-Free Tips for How to Stop Dog Nail Bleeding FAST!
- Define it for what it IS, not one bit more.
- Don’t be a bad example, your dog will notice.
- React with force-free calm.
- Do not apologize.
- Have styptic powder, DIY Styptic Powder, or an alternative on hand.
- Trim your dog’s nails more frequently to prevent cutting them too short.
- Keep learning to improve your nail-cutting skills. Big Dog Mom is here to help if you need it!
Have you experienced a bleeding dog nail? Are there other strategies you have used to stop your dog’s nails from bleeding? Share your experience in the comments to continue this conversation.
Resources To Help You!
FREE Downloadable QUICK Starter guide – This A to Z guide is all about the dog nail quick with the proven strategy and step-by-step instructions for achieving short dog nails without hitting the quick.
More on Cutting Dog Nails
- Achieving hemostasis in dermatology-Part II: Topical hemostatic agents
- Potassium Alum on Wikipedia
- Dog Freedom Reflex
- Diatomaceous earth on Wikipedia
- Benefits of Bentonite Clay (& How to Use It)
- 10 Bentonite Clay Benefits and Uses
- How to Use Alum Block
- How To Properly Bandage A Paw
- The Effect of Cinnamon on Menstrual Bleeding and Systemic Symptoms With Primary Dysmenorrhea
- Yarrow: The Herb That Heals Wounds, and So Much More