What is Styptic Powder?

J. Beam

Styptic powder is an antiseptic clotting agent that is most often used in pet grooming. Much like a styptic pencil, which is made of alum, the powder stops bleeding by contracting the blood vessels. Most pet groomers and veterinarians keep it on hand. This powder is most often used on dogs, cats, and birds and is a good product for pet owners to keep on hand as well.

Nicking a blood vessel while trimming a dog's nails is a common reason for using styptic powder.
Nicking a blood vessel while trimming a dog's nails is a common reason for using styptic powder.

Dogs and cats have blood vessels running down the centers of their claws. When the nails are trimmed during grooming or routine care, they can easily be cut too close to the blood vessels. Amazingly, when nicked, these blood vessels can produce an alarming amount of blood. Applying styptic powder to this type of seemingly minor injury can not only stop the bleeding, but can make future trimming easier.

Dog groomers use styptic powder when they trim an animal's nails to close.
Dog groomers use styptic powder when they trim an animal's nails to close.

Styptic powder causes the vessels to contract further back into the claw and also clots the blood. Not only does it control the bleeding of over-trimmed nails, it helps prevent bacteria from the surrounding area entering the blood stream. This particular first aid agent is not only useful for accidents while trimming dogs and cats’ nails, but also birds’ beaks. Veterinarians use it to control bleeding of other external injuries as well.

A veterinarian may use styptic powder to control the bleeding of a pet's external injuries.
A veterinarian may use styptic powder to control the bleeding of a pet's external injuries.

To use styptic powder, simply dip the affected paw or beak into a small bowl or container of it. Do not dip the area into the container of powder, but rather pour the powder into a separate container to make applying easier. Only a small amount is necessary — just enough to cover the affected area. It generally stops bleeding on contact, but should bleeding continue, proceed to apply light pressure to the area and then reapply the powder. If the bleeding is uncontrollable, seek the services of a veterinarian.

Veterinarians and pet owners can use styptic powder to control bleeding caused by external injuries.
Veterinarians and pet owners can use styptic powder to control bleeding caused by external injuries.

Styptic powder is available at any pet supply retailer and can be found alongside other pet first aid products. Though grooming is not a difficult task, it is advisable to get proper instruction from on trimming claws and beaks from your vet or groomer before attempting it at home.

Styptic powder is most often used on dogs and cats.
Styptic powder is most often used on dogs and cats.

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Discussion Comments

anon1000456

Styptic powder hurts. There is a burning sensation upon application. Re-applications of powder are often necessary. If the powder gets wet (for example, if you used it on a dog's toe and then it walked through wet grass), it needs to be reapplied. Blood easily soaks it and forms messy brown clumps. It then needs to be reapplied. It's also bright yellow on its own and has great staining power. I use and recommend "Super Clot," it's a gel that stops bleeding, in my experience, more quickly and with less mess. Also, it doesn't hurt. In fact, it numbs the spot. I don't know if it's safe for birds.

anon984724

anon119532, you can still get it at Walmart and Walgreens.

Kat919

@anon119532 - I think the reason styptic powder and styptic pencils marketed for humans are no longer sold so much is that their main use was for shaving injuries. When men used straight razors, it was easy to get a bad cut and naturally you would want to stop the bleeding quickly. These days, people use safety razors or electric razors and bad cuts are much less common.

Some of the ones marketed for dogs are actually safe for human use if you really have your heart set on keeping one around for yourself!

anon119532

Why is the use of Styptic powder by humans not mentioned at all, and is no longer available in pharmacies? Use in this manner was common during the 1930,s, 40's, 50's, etc.

anon70067

use cornflour instead.

anon62592

Please note that my vet, a world expert on raptors and parrots, says that styptic powder is toxic to birds if it contains benzocaine, or any other 'caines' so be warned.

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