Kristen is a proud parakeet parent who enjoys researching and writing about pet care.
So you've set out to clip your parakeet's nails, and it's going well so far. You managed to get him in your grasp and into a secured position so you can snip at those little talons.
SNIP! There's one down! Armed with just a little bit more confidence, you prepare to clip the next one. With the clippers positioned just perfectly on that second nail, you begin to squeeze on the handles . . . and WHACK. He kicks just as you clip. It immediately becomes clear to you, as a little drop of blood emerges from the tip of his little nail, that you cut it too short and clipped the vein.
Hopefully, you're reading this before this happens to you. This article will help prepare you in case it ever does happen. But if you haven't been so lucky, and you are currently experiencing the crisis in need of instruction and guidance, just breathe. It's going to be okay!
How to Treat Your Parakeet's Clipped Nail: A Quick Reference
Make sure to read about these steps in more detail below!
- Keep holding your parakeet, and try to keep him calm.
- Clean the nail with lukewarm water.
- Put cornstarch in your hand or a bowl and dip the bird's nail in it to clot the blood. You may need to dip the nail multiple times before it stops bleeding.
- Make sure the cornstarch does not get in your parakeet's eyes, and make sure he doesn't inhale it!
- Put your parakeet back in his cage, and keep an eye on him. Don't let him bite the nail.
- Clean the parakeet's perches and toys ASAP so the nail doesn't get infected while it heals.
- Don't hesitate to call a vet if you're worried.
How Short Is Too Short?
Before we go into the steps in detail, let me explain just what it means to cut your parakeet's nail too short.
Every parakeet has a little vein in their nail that is called a "quick." It runs through the upper part of the nail and usually ends at about the halfway point. Since most parakeets have lightly colored nails, the quick can be seen if you look very closely. It looks like a tiny red line. If you clip the nail too short, the quick gets clipped, too, leaving that vein open and exposed.
Please keep in mind that that if you clip your parakeet's nails yourself, this is bound to happen to you once or twice. No matter how careful you are, accidents do happen.
Here's what you should do if you accidentally cut your parakeet's nail too short.
What Do I Do?!
Believe me, I know this is scary. You are holding a little bird whose nail you've just hacked off, and he is now bleeding at what seems like a very rapid pace. But no matter how scary you may find this situation, it's important that you stay calm.
I know you're worried, but your parakeet is going to be just fine. Despite what it looks like, he will not bleed out, and he will not die. This situation will go much more smoothly if you just take a few deep breaths before you continue, and keep your cool from here on out.
Consider this: What happens to birds who break their nails off too short in the wild? Do they suffer incessantly? No. Do they bleed out and die? Absolutely not. Do they develop a debilitating infection? Not likely. This happens to birds, wild or domesticated. There's no reason for panic in either environment.
This can all be done while you're still holding your parakeet. I strongly advise you not to let him go, at least not until the bleeding has stopped. He's stressed, and if you let him go, he probably won't let you catch him again anytime soon.
1. Clean the Broken Nail
Rinse the nail with lukewarm water. Do not try to use rubbing alcohol on an open wound! It will burn and it will make a terrible time for your poor parakeet! Warm water will do just fine.
Tip: Clean the Nails Beforehand
When I cut my parakeet's nails, I always clean them off first just in case. This way, if one gets cut too short and there is an open wound, the area has already been disinfected, so there is very little chance of bacteria entering the wound. I do this by dipping a clean cotton ball in a little bit of diluted rubbing alcohol (I dilute it with warm water so that it's not so harsh and smelly) and wiping the nails off. Then, I run his little feet under lukewarm water so that all traces of the rubbing alcohol are washed away.
2. Stop the Bleeding
Don't bother trying to put pressure on the area. It won't work. The vein is inside of a solid nail, and any pressure put on the area won't even affect the vein that's bleeding.
Use Cornstarch to Clot the Blood
Instead, use a little bit of cornstarch, which is essentially what baby powder is. Just make sure it's not scented or medicated. You can also use flour, but it may not work as well as cornstarch will.
Pour some cornstarch into the palm of your hand or a small cup or bowl, and dip the bird's nail in it. It will act as a caking agent and it will clot the area up, blocking the flow of blood. You may need to dip the nail more than once before it effectively stops the bleeding.
Don't Get It in Your Bird's Face!
It is very important that you dip the nail into the cornstarch, instead of pouring it onto the nail. Powdery substances are messy, and if poured it may end up on the parakeet's face. If it gets in his eyes or if he inhales any of it, this could be very dangerous.
If you absolutely must pour it, do it very slowly so it doesn't cloud up in the air your parakeet is using to breathe. And be very careful not to let it get in his face.
3. Keep an Eye on Him
Once the bleeding has stopped, you can return the parakeet to his cage. Try to keep a close eye on him for a while, and don't let him bite at the nail.
Clean Your Bird's Cage to Prevent Infection
As soon as possible, thoroughly wash his perches and any toys or other gadgets he's likely to be climbing over. Keeping his cage clean will help reduce the chances that the nail will get infected before it's had a chance to heal.
Don't Be Afraid to Call a Vet
If you still have any concerns about your parakeet's nail, contact a veterinarian. It never hurts just to have your parakeet's nail checked out by a professional, just in case. Your vet can answer any further questions you might have, or provide advice and guidance. Never hesitate to turn to a vet if you're in doubt.
Also, feel free to ask any additional questions you may have in the comments. And if this has happened to you before, please share your advice with the rest of us!
It Happens to Everyone, Including Me
This has happened to me twice in my seven years of clipping my parakeet's nails. The first time, I absolutely panicked. My first instinct was to apply pressure to stop the bleeding, so I used the cloth I was holding my parakeet with to pinch the nail for a little while. But when I removed the cloth, little drops of blood kept emerging from his nail. Putting pressure on it hadn't helped at all! My panic at this point made things much worse. I managed to stress myself and my parakeet out much more than was necessary.
Has This Happened to You?
Need instructions on how to properly cut your parakeet's nails?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2013 Kristen Haynie
Colleen on June 08, 2019:
I have a worse terrible story, I actually cut off my sprawled legged parakeets toe on one foot. It’s doing fine and he didn’t screech when it happened. Now, the issue is, on his other foot he has a toe that is turning black, I’m afraid he could become septic?
Zae on June 05, 2019:
I clipped my cocktail's claw to short. I just hope she is okay, because she now just starting to stand on one leg (the leg with the short claw).
And it is starting to worrier me
Glory on June 01, 2019:
My budgie is injured and bleeding from nail side, i used turmeric to stop the blood and keep it calm and bleeding stopped
Monika on April 19, 2019:
I cut my parakeet nail short n it start bleeding today evening..... I dnt have any vet nearby.... I applied cornstarch too after an hour it again started bleeding. Again I applied cornstarch. When will it stop bleeding? I m very panic about this. Plz help me
Noop on February 23, 2019:
Thanks - great advice
Mariana on February 10, 2019:
So helpful! I was wondering how long does it heals? Hiw many days for it grows back, and closes this wound?
Christina Webster on December 16, 2018:
I did indeed panic when I cut my cockatiel’s nail too short. Your article was the first I found when I google-searched and it was tremendously helpful and calming! I still felt terribly guilty and will leave nails
To the professionals, but thank you:)
Greatbrae on November 06, 2018:
Hello, my vet cut my budgies nails too short without reporting it to me at the dead of night. I was wondering if you may know of anything I can do to help releive the pain my budgy is going through and/or help it heal faster for him.
Kristen Haynie (author) from Scotia, CA on June 28, 2018:
Yes, they grow back.
Amani on June 22, 2018:
Does Your parrots nails grow back after being trimmed
Sudipta Hazra on February 16, 2018:
will The broken nail grow back again?
Leonor on October 21, 2017:
Is there anything special to feed my parrot after bleeding so much. My little daughter cut one of her nails and she’s started to bleed. I almost die when I saw all that blood
James on September 03, 2017:
Kristen is it harder treaning 2 budgies in one cage or should thy be separated had them 5 weeks I put my hand in cage thy go mad
Ronny Espinal on August 15, 2017:
i was paniking and i was very worried that i cut my birds nail too much and ran to see how to stop the bleeding and this helped me thank you so much
orma on May 27, 2017:
You dont understand the panic I was going through once she bled. thanks for the helpful article it stopped bleeding and shes okay now.
Kristen Haynie (author) from Scotia, CA on May 09, 2017:
Baby powder works fine! As long as it's just plain baby powder, it gets the job done and isn't harmful to your bird. If you're using this method though, be careful that your bird doesn't inhale any of the powder.
Thanks for reading!
KellyRC on April 19, 2017:
Thanks for your post! I used baby powder, but it is made of talc. Is that bad? The bleeding stopped and I am keeping an eye on my budgie now.
Kristen Haynie (author) from Scotia, CA on April 04, 2017:
Glad to hear it! Thanks for reading :)
Cake and sprinkles on April 01, 2017:
My parakeet is great thanks to you!
Great article on January 14, 2017:
Was cutting my birds nails and nipped one have used steptic pencils in the past but couldn't find mine as we had just moved read your.Article has some flour and it worked stopped the bleeding in a few minutes. THank You for the great idea!!
Javed S on November 01, 2016:
Thanks for the calming advice and tip. it worked on our Parrot as well.
Ayy lmao on August 24, 2016:
Thanks so much! My parakeet is saved! I accidentally cut his nail to short, and I got horrified! You are a life saver!
Lisa Jones on September 03, 2015:
Thanks you very much this was very helpful
Kristen Haynie (author) from Scotia, CA on October 10, 2013:
Thanks for your comment! I know many bird owners end up having to deal with this at some point, and I hope it comes in handy for them. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day as well!
Eiddwen from Wales on October 10, 2013:
At the moment I have no birds but remember this task from years ago. Very interesting and useful.
Enjoy your day.