In the case of a torn nail, try not to panic. You can try to treat your dog at home, but remember: a torn nail is painful for your dog and you should take care to avoid getting bit.
The following steps are important:
1. Initially, you will have to stop the bleeding. You can use silver nitrate or styptic pencils. If you don't have either of these, try cornstarch or flour. When placed on a bleeding nail, these generally stop the bleeding. Be aware that they can sting, so don't be surprised if your dog vocalizes when you apply the powder.
2. Removing the loose nail is the most difficult part of caring for the torn nail. Most often, you can just pull the loose piece of nail off very quickly. If the nail doesn't come off easily, you can try to use a pet nail trimmer and remove the nail at the level of the break. If you are not confident in your ability to remove the broken nail safely, wait and have a veterinarian do it. Without experience, you may end up hurting your dog more than you realize.
3. If you successfully remove the damaged part of the nail, gently wash the area with warm water to remove any debris lodged between the nail and the toe or leg.
4. Apply a temporary bandage if necessary for bleeding. Remove it in 24 hours.
To be honest, treating a torn nail can be difficult to do at home and I've seen people bit and dogs injured. If you do not feel comfortable taking care of a torn nail, call your veterinarian.
Leaving a torn nail to heal on its own (which will not happen) or allowing the nail to grow out is not a recommended option. This causes persistent irritation and possible repeat breaks.
These types of health emergencies can happen at any time. That's why I urge pet parents to stay alert and stay on schedule for routine health check-ups and exams. It's very important to keep your dog's nails trimmed, both for your safety and theirs. To help with the rising cost of pet healthcare, many pet parents are considering pet insurance - get a FREE quote here.
In my practice, I've personally seen how pet insurance can be the added peace of mind that can also mean the difference between a happy weekend at home or an upsetting day at the vet.