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How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Sara Lippincott, Manager, Shelter Outreach, Petfinder

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed makes him more comfortable as well as reduces those scratches in your wood floor. Because you’ll need both hands to clip the nails, a second person to hold onto the dog is most helpful. Not all dogs are fans of having their nails trimmed. If your dog is one of them, it might be best to seek a professional to handle the chore.


How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails


There are many different types of nail trimmers out there. Spend some time at your local pet supply store checking the different varieties to see which is the most comfortable in your hand and is the best size for your dog’s nails. You’ll also want to have cornstarch or styptic powder on hand to stop the quick from bleeding in case you cut too short. The only other thing you’ll need is lots of treats!


If your dog hasn’t had his nails trimmed before, you can start just by lifting his feet to see how comfortable he is. Once he is comfortable with your handling his feet, you are ready to get started. You’ll need to get down on the floor to avoid twisting his foot too much.

If your dog has light-colored nails and you can see the quick, you’ll want to cut short enough to avoid hitting that quick (think about how it feels when you cut your nails too short ouch!). If your dog has black nails, just trim off the edge of the nail, since you won’t be able to see the quick. If you look at the dark nail head-on, you will see a small dark circle. Once you see that, you should stop.

If you cut a nail too short and it begins to bleed, apply pressure to the tip of the nail to stop the bleeding, or dip the nail in the cornstarch or styptic powder. If the nail has bled, don’t let the dog run through your house afterward keep him calm and quiet so that the nail isn’t further damaged or injured.

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