Whether you trim them yourself or have a groomer trim them for you, how to cut dog nails the right way is important. With the correct tools, like dog nail clippers, his favorite treats and nail trimming techniques, you can master the skill to give your pup a pedicure!
1: Start by lifting your dog’s feet to see how comfortable he is with handling his paws.
2: Get down on the floor to avoid twisting your dog’s foot too much.
3: Pick your dog’s paw up and look at the underneath of the nail to see the quick.
4: Place the clipper at the very edge of the nail if you do not see a quick.
5: Hold the trimmer at a 45-degree angle.
6: Clip only the tip of the nail at a time. Stop. Review before continuing.
7: Hold his paw and nail up to the light and look into the center of the nail. Check for the quick, which looks like a dark inner circle at the center of the nail.
Tools you’ll need to trim your dog’s nails
Caring for your pup’s paws and learning how to clip dog nails requires a few essential tools to ensure your nail-trimming session goes smoothly.
- Treats (it’ll make clipping nails easier for both of you!)
- Room with lots of natural light.
- An old towel or blanket that smells familiar to your dog (it’ll keep him calm).
- Small pair of scissors to trim away fur around the nail.
- Dog nail clipper or grinder, choice of various styles, e.g. guillotine, pliers, scissors.
- Small dog nail file, to smooth out rough edges (also optional).
- Styptic powder, cornstarch, benzocaine or baking soda to stop any bleeding
Nail-trimming for beginners
Dog nails that are light
When you trim your dog’s nails, the first thing to do is check to see where the quick inside the nail ends. If your dog has light-colored nails, you can see the soft, pink tissue in the center called the quick.
The quick includes a blood vessel and nerve and is easier to see on light dog nails. Hold your dog’s paw up to the light. The quick is visible through the nail and looks like a nail-within-a-nail. You must avoid cutting into the quick as it will bleed and causes your dog pain.
Dog nails that are dark
Learning how to clip dog nails that are dark is a little different from learning to trim light dog nails. The first thing you’ll notice is that you will not see the blood and nerve that makes up the quick through the nail.
To view the quick of the nail, gently lift your dog’s paw and look at the center of the unclipped nail head-on. If the nail has a small dark circle at the center, it indicates the beginning of the quick of the nail. Do not clip any nail that has a circle in the center as you’ll be clipping into the quick.
If you do not see the center-circle, snip off the smallest edge of the nail at 45 degrees. Check again to see if there is an exposed center-circle. Once you see the dark circle in the middle of the nail, you have clipped far enough. You must not cut into the quick as it will cause your dog pain and bleed.
What to do if you cut the quick
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, keep your dog calm and quiet so that the nail isn’t further damaged or injured with walking or running. The only other thing you’ll need is lots of treats!
Learn more about caring for your dog