trimming dog nails

Steps for Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Trimming is important for the dog’s good health and is also an important aspect of grooming. Long, overgrown nails can cause a substantial amount of agony and distress, even if your dog isn’t actively acting like it is affecting them. Long nails can also lead to issues with posture alignment and nerve damage. The dogs who spend majority of time outdoors on paved surfaces require less nail maintenance as the natural elements help to keep their nails at a healthy length. However, dogs that are primarily indoors and elderly dogs who have limited mobility will require regular nail trims.

Precautions of Dog Nail Trimming

There are several important precautions that you should know of as pet owner before trimming your dog’s nails.

The Quick

The “quick” is the living part of the nail. This is the area of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerve endings. Accidentally cutting the quick will often result in a bleeding toenail and a substantial amount of pain.

Dark Nails

The color of the dog sometimes determines the color of their nails which increases the difficulty of determining where the “white nail” is ending. Many dark brown and black dogs have dark nails. This becomes tricky when the owner is trimming and they may unintentionally end up cutting the nail too short.

Nail shape

Pet owners should make sure they are cutting the nail appropriately being led by the shape of the nail. The side under the nail should be a triangle. Beware to not cut off too much nail because there is no going back but you can always cut more. You would rather do it slowly and be sure.


1. Preparation is Key

This is the first step of trimming your dog’s nails. You have to have all tools required and also be aware how they work properly. For instance, where the blade moves and slides. In addition to that, if you have any worries or uncertainties, make sure to look the answers up before using the tools or product. Cutting your dog’s nails, you can’t be an exercise you learn as you go.  Also, it is crucial to allow your dog to investigate and play with the tools prior and this is because many dogs are sensitive when their paws are touched.

The most important tool you need for this exercise is a pair of nail clippers. Ask your vet to recommend the best clippers for your particular dog. Guillotine clippers tend to work best on small dogs, and plier- and scissor-style nail trimmers are helpful for big dogs. However, use the tool you are most comfortable with and it will be the most effective.

Another option is nail grinders. It is considered safer than clippers since only a small portion of nail comes off at a time. Even so, grinders are often loud, and may cause some dogs to feel anxious or fearful around this tool. They also take much more time to finish the trim, so your pet must be patient. Another tool you need is the clotting powder in case you cut too much of the dog’s nail and he begins to bleed, the clotting agent recommended by your vet will stop the bleeding as soon as possible.

2. Treats are very helpful

Additionally, we advise for the pet owner to have treats at hand. You should praise the dog for positive behavior with an uplifting happy tone. This makes the grooming process a happy and relatively easy time for your pet and you. Treats are mostly helpful for young and anxious dogs that are new to nail trimming. Always remember to choose healthy dog treats. Treats can also be used as a good distraction and hence making the process quick and safe. Since nail trimming is not an exciting task to dogs, you should consider giving your dog a break if they need it. Additionally, nail trimming should be a regular exercise to ensure the dog gets used to it and do it gently so that the dog doesn’t run at the sight of the clippers.

3. Firm grip 

The next step in trimming the nails is making sure you have a firm grip on the dog’s paw and push back any hair that’s in the way of the nail. You need to ensure that you can are able to see exactly where you will be trimming. You also need to realize if the dog’s nails are overgrown, their paw will likely be sore and tender. The dog owner should always stay alert and aware of the dog’s behavior when you touch their paw and place it in your hand. If they yelp, be more gentle. However, you should have a firm enough grip so that their paw does not accidentally slip during the trimming process.

4. Dogs Nails Are Different Than Our Nails

Our nails are different from our dog’s nails and therefore must be cut accordingly. You should never put the dog’s entire nail in the clipper or cut the entire nail. The nail should be cut at a 45-degree angle and from underneath.

Now, carefully place the opening of the nail clippers over the end of the white nail. It is crucial that you cut only in the white nail area. When you cut past the white nail area, this means that you are cutting the quick (the pink area of the nail), where blood vessels are live. Cutting into the quick is extremely painful and causes bleeding and you want to avoid this.

5. Making A Clean Cut

Lastly, hold the paw firmly and cut clean and smooth by gently squeezing the handle of the nail trimmer. It is crucial to have an idea of how tight you need to squeeze to get a clean cut, but not unwillingly harm your dog’s tender paw. Additionally, you can also use another person to help you by holding the paw as you cut for a better grip.

Once you have made the cut, you may notice a rough edge that didn’t fully come off with the scissors. In this case, use a nail file to shave down the remaining portion. You should avoid pulling it off with your fingers as pulling can cause harm to the nail. Also, if your dog is active, this portion will likely fall off on its own.