What Can I Soak My Dogs Broken Nail In?

A broken nail is a painful and stressful injury for dogs that requires prompt first aid and care. When a dog’s nail gets torn or cracked, the underlying quick (blood vessel) can be exposed, leading to bleeding and pain. If left untreated, broken nails are also at high risk of getting infected, which can cause severe problems. Knowing how to properly soak and care for a broken nail is crucial for helping the nail heal while also reducing the dog’s discomfort.

Soaking the nail in the right solution is one of the most effective ways to clean the wound while also promoting healing. The moist environment helps prevent the nail from drying out and cracking further. Soaking also helps remove dirt and debris to prevent infection. This article will explain the benefits of soaking a dog’s broken nail and recommend the best solutions to use for maximum healing.

Signs of a Broken Nail

There are several signs that may indicate your dog has a broken nail, including:

Bleeding – A broken nail will often bleed, sometimes significantly if the break is near the quick. Bleeding may be apparent by redness around the nail bed or blood spots on the floor (1).

Limping – Dogs will often limp or avoid putting pressure on the paw with the broken nail. They may hold their paw up or lick at it (2).

Licking – Your dog may excessively lick at the area around the broken nail due to pain or discomfort.

Sensitivity to Touch – Dogs with a broken nail may show signs of pain or sensitivity when the nail or surrounding paw area is touched.

Risks of Infection

An open wound on a dog’s broken nail is vulnerable to bacteria that can enter and cause infection. If left untreated, the infection can spread from the nail up into the toe, foot, or leg, becoming increasingly serious. According to PetMD, signs of a nail infection include swelling, redness, foul odor, and discharge around the nail. MedVet states that deep nail infections may require surgical treatment or antibiotic medication prescribed by a veterinarian to resolve. Therefore, it is important to keep the broken nail protected from dirt and debris and monitor for any signs of infection. If the nail shows infection, take the dog to the veterinarian right away for appropriate treatment.

Soaking the Nail

Soaking your dog’s broken nail in a solution can help clean the wound, reduce pain and inflammation, and aid healing. Some recommended soaking solutions include:

  • Saline solution – This can help flush debris from the nail bed and prevent infection. Make a saline soak by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of warm water (Chewy, 2021).
  • Chamomile tea – The anti-inflammatory properties in chamomile can help soothe the pain. Brew a strong batch of chamomile tea and soak the paw for 5-10 minutes (PetMD, 2023).
  • Epsom salts – Epsom salts are naturally antibacterial and can reduce swelling. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of Epsom salts in 1 cup warm water and soak for 10 minutes (Pride and Groom, 2023).
  • Hydrogen peroxide – This can help disinfect the wound. Dilute hydrogen peroxide with water in a 1:1 ratio before soaking (Chewy, 2021).

Soak the nail 2-3 times a day to help keep the area clean and promote healing. Always dry the paw thoroughly after soaking to prevent further irritation or infection.

Saline Solution

Soaking the broken nail in a saline solution is one of the gentlest ways to clean the area. Saline is simply a salt water mixture made up of sodium chloride and water. The salt helps draw out fluids from the wound while the water gently cleans away dirt and debris. Saline solution can be purchased at any pharmacy, or you can make your own at home by combining:

  • 1 cup warm distilled or boiled water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

The National Institutes of Health recommends using a fresh saline solution each time you soak the nail to reduce the risk of infection [1]. Soak a clean towel or cloth in the saline solution, then hold it against the broken nail for 5-10 minutes. The salt water will help draw out moisture and flush debris from the wound. Repeat 2-3 times a day until the nail starts to heal. The soothing saline soak is gentle and non-irritating, making it one of the safest ways to clean the broken nail.

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a natural remedy that can help disinfect and soothe a dog’s broken nail. Chamomile contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent infection and reduce swelling around the broken nail. To use chamomile tea, brew a strong batch using 2-3 chamomile tea bags per cup of hot water and let it steep for at least 10 minutes. Allow the tea to cool so it is lukewarm before soaking the dog’s paw in the mixture. The cooling tea will have a calming effect and help relieve any pain associated with the broken nail. Soak the paw for 5-10 minutes a few times per day. The chamomile’s natural disinfectants like bisabolol will help cleanse the wounded area while the tea’s antioxidants reduce inflammation. Be sure to pat dry the paw thoroughly after soaking to prevent irritation. Chamomile tea soaks can promote healing of broken nails in dogs.




Epsom Salts

One of the best and most readily available home treatment options for a dog’s broken nail is Epsom salts. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate which helps to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. The magnesium also aids in healing the injured nail bed.

Make a warm Epsom salt soak by mixing 2-3 tablespoons of Epsom salts per gallon of warm water. Soak the dog’s paw in the solution for 5-10 minutes. It’s a good idea to do this several times a day for the first few days after the nail injury. The soak will help clean the wound while also relieving discomfort. Just be sure not to submerge the entire paw in water as you don’t want the other nails and hair to get too wet.

An Epsom salt soak is an easy, effective way to treat a broken nail at home. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties will help prevent infection while easing any pain in the injured paw.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used for cleaning and disinfecting wounds. It can help to disinfect the broken nail and stop any bleeding that occurs when the nail breaks and exposes the quick. According to YourHomeVetJax.com, hydrogen peroxide is an ingredient often included in homemade treatments for broken dog nails. When applied to the wound, the bubbling action helps to clean out debris and bacteria.

Hydrogen peroxide should be diluted before use on pets. A 3% solution can be diluted with equal parts water. Apply the diluted solution to the broken nail using a clean cloth or cotton ball. Allow it to bubble for a minute or so to disinfect the wound. Then rinse with clean water. Hydrogen peroxide can sting when applied, so monitor your dog’s reaction. Discontinue use if the stinging seems to bother them.

The oxidative properties of hydrogen peroxide also help seal wounds and blood vessels. This can assist with stopping bleeding if the quick was exposed when the nail broke. However, hydrogen peroxide should only be used for initial disinfection. Prolonged use can damage healthy tissues and delay healing. Discontinue use after the initial cleaning.


After soaking and trimming your dog’s broken nail, it’s important to provide proper aftercare to help the nail heal and prevent infection.

Keep the injured paw clean and dry. Do not allow your dog to lick or chew at the broken nail, as this can introduce bacteria and delay healing. Gently clean the nail with mild soap and water when needed, and pat dry. You may want to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking and chewing.

Watch closely for signs of infection like swelling, redness, heat, discharge or a foul odor from the nail bed. If you notice any of these, contact your veterinarian right away. An infected nail may require antibiotics or other treatment.

It’s a good idea to follow up with your vet in a few days after the initial injury even if it appears to be healing well. The vet can examine the nail bed and surrounding tissue and determine if further care is needed, such as bandaging or splinting to protect the nail as it regrows.

Most broken nails take 1-2 months to fully regrow. With proper aftercare and monitoring, your dog’s broken nail should heal without complications.

When to See the Vet

If you notice signs of infection in the nail, such as redness, swelling, pus or a foul odor, take your dog to see the vet right away. Infections can spread quickly and lead to more serious complications if left untreated. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, signs of a nail infection include “redness, swelling, and oozing around the nail, and sometimes a foul smell.”

You should also take your dog to the vet if the entire nail has come off or is dangling. Trying to treat or remove it yourself may cause more harm. The vet can properly assess the injury, stop any bleeding, and prevent further issues from developing.

Unstoppable bleeding is another clear sign a vet visit is needed. Apply pressure and try to stop the bleeding yourself at first. But if it continues heavily for more than 5-10 minutes, do not wait – get veterinary assistance right away to prevent potential blood loss complications. According to PetMD, “If the bleeding does not stop within five to 10 minutes of applying pressure, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.”

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