How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

Sep 10, 2023 | Dogs & Puppies | 1 comment

Your furry friend’s nails need a trim now and then. Growing too long can cause your pup much pain and even mess up their ability to walk. Many pet owners dread this grooming job, fearing they might accidentally hurt their pup. But, with the right know-how and tools, trimming your dog’s nails can be simple and safe.

Why Bother with Dog Nail Trimming?

First things first, why should you bother trimming your dog’s nails? If your dog’s nails get too long, they can cause a bunch of issues, such as:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Trouble with walking
  • Bad posture
  • Broken nails, which can lead to infections

Keeping your dog’s nails in check isn’t just about looks—it’s crucial for their overall health and happiness.

The Right Tools for the Job

Before you start trimming your dog’s nails, make sure you’ve got the right tools. There are three main types of nail clippers:

  • Guillotine-style clippers: These clippers have a hole where you put the dog’s nail. When you squeeze the handle, a blade cuts off the end of the nail.
  • Scissor-style clippers: These clippers work like a regular pair of scissors. They’re great for bigger dogs with tougher nails.
  • Grinder tools: Use a spinning surface to grind down the nail slowly. Some dogs prefer grinders because they don’t squeeze the nail.

Each tool has its ups and downs. Pick the one that’s best for you and your dog.

Cutting the Dog Nails Right

Dogs have a blood vessel in their nails called the ‘quick.’ Cutting this can cause pain and bleeding, so you’ll want to avoid it. If your dog has light-colored nails, the quick is the pink part. If your dog has darker nails, it might be harder to see.

If you accidentally cut the quick, don’t freak out. You can use a styptic powder or pencil to stop the bleeding. Keeping one of these on hand while trimming your dog’s nails is a good idea.

dog nail trimming guide

A Step-by-step Guide to Nail Trimming

    1. Make it Chill: Choose a quiet, bright spot. You want your dog to be as relaxed as possible.
    2. Hold Your Dog’s Paw: Be kind and comforting. Hold the dog’s paw like you’re holding hands so they don’t feel trapped.
    3. Spot the Quick: If your dog has clear nails, you can see the quick—it looks like a dark or pink spot inside the nail. If the nails are dark, you might not be able to see them quickly, so only cut a little bit at a time.
    4. Position the Clippers: Put the clipper at a slight angle, matching how the dog’s nail naturally grows.
    5. Clip the Nail: Press the clipper quickly and firmly. If you’re too slow, the dog might feel uncomfortable. If you’re using a grinder, use it in short, steady strokes.
    6. Look for the ‘Dot’: On dark nails, as you get closer to the quick, you’ll start to see a gray or white dot in the center of the nail. When you see this, stop cutting.
    7. Smooth it Out: Use a nail file or grinder to smooth the nail’s edges after cutting.
    8. Give Your Dog Some Love: Give your dog lots of praise and a small treat after each nail. This will make nail trimming a happier experience.

Clipping your dog’s nails may seem scary, but piecing it with the right information, tools, and practice can be easy. Follow these steps to make sure your pet stays comfy and healthy. The more you do it, the more used to it you and your dog will get. Make nail clipping a regular part of your pup’s grooming routine.


American paws divider



How often should I trim my dog’s nails?

Generally, most dogs will need their nails trimmed every 3-4 weeks. However, the frequency can depend on the breed, age, level of physical activity, and type of surfaces your dog regularly walks on. Regular walks on pavement can naturally help keep nails shorter.

My dog hates having their nails trimmed. How can I make the experience more enjoyable for them?

Slow, gradual introductions are key. Start by touching and handling your dog’s paws regularly without trimming the nails so they get used to the sensation. Use lots of positive reinforcement with treats and praise. You could also try to distract your dog with a chew toy.

Can I use human nail clippers for my dog?

It’s not recommended. Human nail clippers aren’t designed for the shape and thickness of a dog’s nails. They can easily split or shatter a dog’s nail. It’s best to use tools specifically made for dogs.

What should I do if my dog’s nails are overgrown?

Overgrown nails can be tricky because they quickly grow along with the nail. You can gradually trim the nail, and the quick will naturally recede. Visiting a vet or professional groomer may be best if the nails are long.

Is there a specific time of day that’s best for nail trimming?

The best time of day is when your dog is naturally calm. For many dogs, this is often after they’ve had some exercise and a meal.

My dog has black nails. How can I see the quick?

Black nails can make it difficult to see quickly. The general rule is to make several small cuts. As you cut closer to the quick, you’ll begin to see a gray or white dot in the middle of the nail. When you see this, stop cutting.

I accidentally cut my dog’s quick, and I don’t have styptic powder. What should I do?

If you don’t have styptic powder, you can use a homemade remedy of cornstarch or flour. Just pack a bit onto the bleeding nail to help clot the blood. Contact your vet if the bleeding doesn’t stop after a few minutes.


1 Comment

  1. NailNinjaJill

    Nail trimming is a struggle with our feisty Peanut

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