Dog Nails Hollow Underneath Reddit

A dog’s nails are made up of several parts that allow the nail to grow and attach to the toe. At the core of the nail is the quick, which contains blood vessels and nerves that supply the nail. The quick is surrounded by a nail bed that attaches the nail to the toe. Surrounding the nail bed and quick is the hard keratin shell that we see on the outside of the nail.

The visible part of the nail that extends past the toe is known as the nail’s free edge. This is the part that makes contact with the ground when the dog walks. The anatomy of a dog’s nails allows the nail to grow continuously and provide protection for the sensitive quick inside.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the parts that make up a dog’s nails and discuss proper nail care and potential issues like cutting into the quick.

Keratin shell

A dog’s nails are made up of a tough keratin material that forms a shell around the nail. Keratin is a fibrous structural protein that also makes up hair, horns, feathers, hoofs, and claws in animals. The keratin shell of a dog’s nail is what you see on the outside, forming the hard nail surface.

This keratin shell acts as a protective barrier for the quick and vessels inside the nail. It helps prevent damage and infection of the living tissue within the nail. The keratin is constantly growing, with new layers forming underneath as old layers get worn down through contact with the ground and surfaces. This is why dog nails need to be trimmed regularly, to keep the keratin shell at an appropriate length.

The thickness and hardness of the keratin shell can vary between individual dogs. Some dogs have thicker nails that are more difficult to trim. The color of the keratin also differs, with most dogs having white/light nails but some breeds having dark brown or black nails where the keratin is pigmented.

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The quick of a dog’s nail is the soft tissue inside the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels. It is made up of soft keratin and extends from the nail bed to the tip of the nail.

The purpose of the quick is to supply blood and nutrients to the nail to help it grow. The vessels in the quick also contain nerves that allow dogs to feel sensations through their nails.

The quick has a pinkish color, in contrast to the outer white/clear keratin shell of the nail. In dogs with black nails, the quick can be more difficult to see.

It’s important to avoid cutting into the quick when trimming your dog’s nails. If the quick is cut, it will bleed and be painful for the dog. With practice and caution, the quick can be avoided.


Hollow space

Underneath the hard keratin shell of a dog’s nail, there is a hollow space that runs through most of the nail (Source). This hollow area allows the nail to flex and absorb shock as the dog walks or runs. It also provides space for blood vessels and nerves to run through the nail, which contributes to a dog being able to feel sensations through their nails.

The hollow part of the nail is softer and more sensitive than the outer shell. Care should be taken when trimming a dog’s nails to avoid cutting into this hollow quick area, as it can cause bleeding and pain. Signs that you’ve hit the quick include bleeding and sensitivity from the dog.

The amount of hollow space varies by dog breed and individual nails. Black nails typically have more extensive quick areas that are harder to see where the hollow space ends. With white or light nails, the pinkish quick area inside the nail is usually more visible.

Blood vessels and nerves

The inner part of a dog’s nail contains the quick, which houses blood vessels and nerves that supply the nail [1]. The blood vessels bring nutrients and oxygen to the nail while the nerves provide sensation. Cutting into the quick will expose these blood vessels and nerves, causing pain and bleeding [2].

The quick is located approximately two-thirds to three-quarters up the nail from the bottom. It extends higher up towards the tip in dark-colored nails versus light-colored nails. Caution must be taken when trimming the nail to avoid cutting into this sensitive area. Signs that the quick has been cut include bleeding and the dog yelping in pain.

Cutting into the quick

The quick contains blood vessels and nerves. If you accidentally cut into the quick while trimming your dog’s nails, it will likely bleed and be painful for your dog. According to Wahl USA, “The general rule of thumb is to clip where the nail makes a defined curve down towards the floor. Don’t cut too far beyond that or you could snip the quick.”

When you cut into the quick, blood will oozing out of the nail. The bleeding may be mild or severe depending on how deep the cut is. The quick has a large blood supply, so bleeding can seem excessive even from a small nick. Your dog will likely experience pain and try to lick the bleeding nail.

It’s important not to panic if you cut the quick. Apply styptic powder or styptic pencils to stop the bleeding. Hold pressure on the nail with a clean cloth or paper towel. If the bleeding doesn’t stop within 5-10 minutes, contact your veterinarian. Signs of excessive blood loss include pale gums, lethargy, and collapse.

Be patient with your dog after an injury to the quick. Allow several weeks for complete healing before trimming again. Go slower next time and be careful not to cut too short. With practice, you can learn the optimal length to trim each nail.

Black nails vs white nails

Some dogs have all black nails while other dogs have a mixture of black and white nails. This difference is due to pigmentation in the nails. Black nails contain more pigment which makes the nail darker in color. White nails contain less pigment and are lighter in color.

This difference in pigmentation between black and white nails becomes important when it comes to cutting a dog’s nails. The quick, which contains the blood vessels and nerves, is easier to see and avoid in white nails. The quick in white nails appears pinkish in color. However in black nails, the quick blends in and is harder to visualize.

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Because the quick is more difficult to see in black nails, extra care needs to be taken when cutting them to avoid hitting the quick and causing bleeding. Go slowly, trim only small amounts of the nail at a time, and use a flashlight to try to illuminate the quick.

Bleeding from the quick

It’s easy to accidentally cut or nick your dog’s quick when trimming their nails. The quick contains nerves and blood vessels, so cutting into it will cause bleeding and pain. If you do cut the quick, the most important thing is to stop the bleeding. Apply pressure to the nail with a clean towel or cloth for 5-10 minutes until it clots. You can also use styptic powder or cornstarch to help stop minor bleeding. If the bleeding doesn’t stop within 10-15 minutes, or seems excessive, you should take your dog to the vet for treatment. They can properly cauterize the wound to stop bleeding.

It’s understandable to feel worried if you cut the quick, but try to stay calm so your dog doesn’t get more stressed. Be sure to give them lots of praise and treats for being patient. If your dog’s nails are dark, it can be hard to see the quick. Go slowly and trim only small amounts at a time. There are products that can help illuminate the quick, like nail clippers with built-in LED lights. It’s also a good idea to acquaint your dog with having their paws handled often, so they feel more comfortable during trims. With patience and practice, cutting the quick can be avoided.


Caring for Dog Nails

Proper nail care is an important part of keeping your dog healthy and comfortable. Here are some tips for safely trimming your dog’s nails at home:

Use the right tools – Invest in a high-quality nail clipper designed specifically for dogs. Avoid using human nail clippers, as they can splinter dog nails.

Take your time – Don’t rush the process. Go slowly and carefully to avoid hitting the quick. Only trim a little bit at a time.

Give breaks – If your dog gets antsy, give them a break to relax before continuing.

Watch the quick – The quick is the blood vessel inside the nail. It will bleed if cut, which can be painful and scary for you and your dog. Keep an eye on the quick and avoid cutting it.

Stay calm – If you accidentally hit the quick, don’t panic. Apply pressure with a styptic powder or cornstarch to stop bleeding. Comfort your dog and keep them still.

Consider a vet visit – If your dog has overgrown black nails where the quick is hard to see, take them to the vet for trimming. Vets can cauterize the quick to avoid bleeding.

Give rewards – Give your dog praise and treats during and after nail trimming to create a positive association.

Regular trimming – Trim nails regularly, every 2-3 weeks, so they don’t get overgrown.

Following these tips will help make at-home nail trimming safe and stress-free for both you and your dog. For more information, see this guide on cutting dog nails at home:


In summary, dog nails have a keratin shell that protects the inner quick, which contains blood vessels and nerves. This hollow space under the nail allows dirt and debris to sometimes get trapped inside. The quick recedes back toward the paw pad as the nail grows longer. Trimming into the quick causes bleeding and pain. Some signs of unhealthy nails include cracks, dirt inside, overgrowth, and infection. It’s important to trim dogs’ nails regularly to the appropriate length and watch for any problems needing veterinary attention. Keeping nails short helps prevent issues and keeps dogs comfortable.

Proper nail care is an important part of maintaining dogs’ health and wellbeing. Knowing the anatomy of the nail and what to look out for can help owners care for their dogs’ paws.

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