dog nail trim

It can be a hassle to trim your dog’s nails, but letting them grow too long can cause pain for your pet. It is best to do nail trims frequently and trim the tips off. When cutting a pet’s nails, it’s essential to know the quick location and where the cut. If you are concerned about trimming the nails correctly, get a professional at the veterinarian’s office or at the groomer to show you how to do it the first time.

Equipment / Tools


Examine the Dog’s Nail

A dog’s nail consists of a hard outer shell and a soft cuticle in the centre consisting of nerve and blood vessels. The cuticle is also known as the “quick” of the nail. If the quick is cut, the nail will bleed, and the dog will feel pain.

On light-coloured nails, it is easy to see the quick. Many dogs have black or darker-coloured nails, making it impossible to see the quick. The nail anatomy is still the same. The best place to cut is two to three millimetres from the nail quick.

dog nail trim

Position Dogs for Nail Trims and Start to Trim

Once you are in a good position, you can begin cutting the nails. Grasp your dog’s paw firmly but without squeezing. Hold the trimmers with your dominant hand and grasp the paw with your other hand.

Place your thumb on the bottom of the footpad and your fingers on the top of the foot near the nail bed. Line up your trimmers by placing the edge of the blade upon the nail at the imaginary “cut line.” Squeeze the trimmers in one swift, deliberate motion. Avoid cutting if the dog is moving. Continue until all nails are clipped.

Cutting a dog nail

What to Do if Your Dog’s Nail Starts Bleeding

If your dog yelps in pain and the nail begins to bleed, you have cut into the nail quick. This means the blood vessel and nerves within the nail is severe. Don’t panic; this is not an emergency.

Grab your styptic powder, or use some cornstarch or flour if you don’t have styptic powder. Use a cotton ball, tissue, or paper towel to wipe away as much blood as possible. Get a pinch of the powder and quickly pack it onto the nail tip. Give your dog a break and reward before moving on to the other nails. Though cutting into the quick does cause sharp pain, it is not long-lasting and should not affect your dog’s ability to walk.

dog nail trim

Preventing Problems During a Nail Trims

Some dogs will not stay still for nail trims, even with extra people helping. You can try working with your dog to desensitize it to the nail trims gradually. Reward the dog if it tolerates minimal paw handling, then gradually work your way up to nail trims.

If your dog is trying to bite you or is fighting so hard, it could injure you or itself; then the nail trim is a job best left to the professionals. Fortunately, most vet offices and groomers charge a minimal fee for basic nail trims. In extreme cases, sedation may be needed to trim nails.

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