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What Happens If a Dog Nail Scratches You?

What Happens If a Dog Nail Scratches You?

Dog scratches are among the most common issues for people who own or love a dog. Most of these scratches are temporary and do not pose further complications. However, they sometimes create anxiety about infections or other diseases.

Now questions like how far are dog nail scratches dangerous and what is the right approach if a dog nail scratches a human, pops up. These are answered here. 

The Immediate Impact of a Dog Nail Scratch

If dog nails scratch a human, its immediate impact depends on the intensity of the scratch and the dog’s nail condition. A mild scratch that doesn’t break the skin causes redness and soreness. The affected area may appear slightly swollen and painful to the touch.

However, nail scratches of dogs that penetrate the skin can be severe. These can cause significant pain and bleeding. Also, such scratches increase the infection risk as the dog’s nails can have bacteria.

In such cases, clean the wound thoroughly with soapy water, apply an antiseptic, and cover it with a clean bandage.

Keep checking on the scratch for signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, warmth, or pus. 

Consult a veterinary doctor if a street dog scratches with nails, as these are not vaccinated to avoid any chances of rabies.

Is Dog Nail Scratch Dangerous?

  • Infections: Minor scratches of dog nails must be washed properly; otherwise, they can become infected. Bacteria from a dog’s nails or the surrounding area can cause the wound to become red, swollen, or pus-filled.
  • Allergic Reactions: People sensitive to proteins present in dogs’ saliva or dander are more prone to allergy. This can worsen the effects of a scratch.
  • Tetanus: Tetanus can occur with deep scratches if Clostridium tetani invade the area, but it is rare. Minimize the risk by ensuring that your tetanus vaccination is up-to-date.

Risks associated with dog scratches

Even when you are just playing with your dog, there are times that your skin gets scratched. My dog scratching me with nails is more common when:

  • Dog walks on you
  • Jump over you
  • Bite you with their teeth while you are playing a game of fetch
  • Feeding them

If a dog injures you by accidental scratching, there are usually red marks on your skin. These may temporarily become painful and swollen. In severe cases, it leads to health risks, such as:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Bacterial infections, including Capnocytophaga bacterium
  • Tetanus, a disease resulting from Clostridium tetani bacteria
  • Rabies is a severe viral disease
  • Sepsis, which is a severe condition that results from an infection spreading to an individual’s organs

When dog nails scratch you, but there is no blood, the chances of getting infected are minimal. Sanitizing is an excellent way to prevent infection.

Sign of infection after dog scratch, What Happens If a Dog Nail Scratches You?

Signs of Infection


    • If you find that the area around the scratch turns even redder and swollen rather than healing, it could be a severe infection.

    • Growing red streaks from the scratch that are not due to the scratch can indicate that the infection has spread in the system.

    • Any fever combined with other diseases, rashes, inflammation, or pus with signs of increased body heat means the body has developed some form of infection.

    • Pus is an indication of severe infection and could be formed either as a yellow or white substance oozing out of the wound.

    • It is expected to feel weak or tired if you have a system infection.

If you see any of these symptoms while your dog scratches with nails is healing, seek medical attention right away. A doctor can evaluate the wound, prescribe antibiotics as needed, and further direct on preventing the infection from progressing.

Dog Nail Scratch Treatment  At Home?

A dog nail scratch with no blood implies minor wounds to treat with a bandage. A dog nail scratch during pregnancy can cause allergic reactions. So, it is advisable to maintain distance from pets to avoid infection. 


    • If a dog bite or scratch wound is bleeding, put pressure on the wounded area with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding. Try using latex or rubber gloves to protect yourself and prevent the wound from getting infected.

    • For a minor wound, clean it with soap and water. Hold it under running water for several minutes.

    • Pat dry the wound and apply antibiotic ointment. Cover it with sterile gauze or a clean cloth.

    • Call your doctor if a scratch or punctured skin doesn’t stop bleeding.

Conditions where consulting a doctor is highly recommended after dog scratching


    • If the wound won’t stop bleeding even after 10 minutes of direct pressure.

    • The wound seems too deep, significant, or severe.

    • The dog was stray or wild or behaving strangely.

    • If the scratch has pus coming from it, it becomes red, hot, and swollen, or the pain increases gradually.

    • The scratched person has a weak immune system or other medical conditions that might attract infection quickly.

    • In the case of kids, the child’s tetanus immunizations are not up to date. 

A scratch on a face, hand, joint area or foot is more prone to infection. Consulting a doctor is highly recommended in such cases.

Can dog nail scratches cause rabies?

A virus known as rabies can infect humans if an infected animal bites or scratches them. Because the virus assaults the neurological system, this is a dangerous illness that can be dangerous to both people and animals.

Scratch from dog nails cause rabies is common, especially if a street dog scratches its nails or has not received the rabies vaccination. A dog’s saliva may carry the virus when it bites or inadvertently scratches itself.

What to do if you suspect a rabies-infected dog may have scratched you?

Does dog nail scratch cause rabies? Well, maybe if the dog is infected. Consult a physician if a dog that bit or scratched you does not have rabies vaccination records. They might advise receiving both vaccinations and antibodies for rabies.

Signs and symptoms of rabies

It can take weeks or months for rabies symptoms to appear. It could be fatal to put off getting help until you are experiencing symptoms. Possible symptoms of rabies in people are:


    • Weakness

    • Anxiety

    • Headaches

    • Exhaustion

    • Hallucinations

    • Other neurological abnormalities

Preventive measures for minimizing the risks associated with Dog Scratches


    • Keep your dog’s nails trimmed by hiring professional grooming services. Smooth nails prevent scratches on the human body.

    • Clean scratches if they occur immediately to prevent infection.

    • Put a clean bandage on dog scratches to avoid further contamination.

    • Take your dog for regular anti-rabies shots and vaccines to lower the risk of transmitting diseases.

    • Avoid your dog’s contact with stray or unvaccinated dogs, especially wild or aggressive ones.

    • Train your dog to avoid jumping on people. Also, teaching them to be gentle with their mouths and paws during play and feeding can reduce their chances of scratching you.

Importance of Dog vaccination 

No doubt, your and your dog’s health is a prime concern. Vaccination is a crucial part of pets’ health maintenance. It can also protect against illnesses, germs, and even diseases often carried by pets and transmitted through scratches and bites to their parents.

You can book vaccination consultancy online or by visiting a veterinary doctor’s clinic. With grooming services available from Oh My Pet, you can take advantage of getting your dogs vaccinated at home. 

Our various grooming services packages ensure your dog stays in good health, and there is no compromise on their looks and hygiene. 


It is sometimes possible for you to get a nail scratched by a dog while feeding or playing with your pet. Though you can overcome that by training your dog to be more gentle, sometimes scratching is unavoidable. Additionally, you run a higher risk if you come into contact with a street or wild dog compared to the vaccinated dog nail scratch.

A nail scratch of a dog must be washed to prevent infections from setting in. If the wound is minor, you may be wondering what to do next and may wish to consult your doctor.

If a street dog nail scratches a human and you are experiencing severe bleeding or flu-like symptoms, you should visit a doctor.

Don’t miss your dog vaccination schedule as it is very vital to the health of your four-legged friends. And if you are wondering where you can get the best at-home services for dogs’ grooming and vaccination, check out Oh My Pet. 

You will never be disappointed in choosing our experts! Our vaccination experts are trained and have ample experience in administering vaccinations to pets. These veterinarians use top-quality vaccinations for your pet’s safety and health.

Book an Appointment Today!