A dog's front nails, particularly dewclaws that are loosely attached, are susceptible to severe tears, cracks and even complete removal when caught on obstacles such as vegetation or even carpet. WebVet breaks down the treatment of a damaged or missing nail into three steps: stopping the bleeding, removing the damaged portion and protecting the injured area.
Broken and torn-out nails often bleed profusely. If available, a styptic pencil or cauterizing powder placed on the nail's end is the most effective way to stop the bleeding. Corn starch, flour or a tightly folded paper towel pressed into the wounded area for at least 10 minutes are also effective tools to stop bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop, WebVet says to temporarily bandage the wound and visit a veterinarian.
Broken nails must also be trimmed above the damaged section to promote proper healing. WebVet suggests that a veterinarian perform this step since damaged nails are extremely painful, and dogs are often hard to control during the procedure. After trimming, the foot is bandaged with gauze to keep the damaged nail or nail bed clean and protected. Torn or removed nails need regular monitoring, cleaning and fresh bandages for a few days or until completely healed to prevent complications and infection.