How to Trim Dog Nails – Dogster


How often should I trim my dog’s nails?

Dog’s nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks, regardless of the dog’s breed, size or nail color.

You can either use nail clippers like the guillotine clippers on the right or a Dremmel tool to grind the nail. © Melissa Kauffman

Tools for trimming dog nails at home:

You’ll need the following tools to trip nails at home. You can get these at a dog retail store or online at Chewy or Amazon.

Will trimming my dog’s nails hurt him?

Yes, if you trim the quick. The quick is located near the nail base and can be very painful and bleed. The quick can go up toward the center of the nail and is the most sensitive part because it’s full of blood vessels and nerves. You can quickly stop the bleeding by putting styptic powder on the nail. Avoid trimming the quick by trimming just the top of the nail above the quick. If you can’t see the quick because your dog’s nails are black, only trim a tiny bit or take your dog to a professional groomer.

You will also need to trim the nail on your dog’s dew claw, located a little further up on your dog’s front legs. © Melissa Kauffman

How to safely trim my dog’s nails

  1. Keep your dog in a well-lit and quiet environment to reduce outside stimuli. With an assistant, arrange him in a secure hold, such as in your lap or on his side.
  2. Gently grasp your dog’s paw with your thumb over the top of his paw and press your index finger above his paw pad to extend the nails.
  3. Locate the nail quick and cut one nail at a time above the quick, clipping only a small portion at a smooth side angle with the clippers. On light-colored nails, a small dark dot will appear in the middle after clipping, indicating the quick is close. That’s a good stopping point. Dew claws, located higher on the front legs, also require additional care.
  4. If you do not see a small black dot after clipping, continue to cut further and watch for any cracking. Always work at a comfortable pace and stop anytime if needed.
  5. If you accidentally hit your dog’s quick and cause bleeding, immediately wet a Q-tip lightly with water, dip it into styptic powder and press on the nail for 20 to 30 seconds to stop bleeding. It is also effective to press loose styptic powder on their nails. Keep monitoring this nail and do not clip any further.
  6. Continue this process with each paw. You did it! Give your dog a big kiss and treat!

How to trim black dog nails

Unlike light-colored nails in dogs, black nails are usually prone to hide quicks or cracks, even in a well-lit environment. Take extra precaution with these black nails and cut only a little at a time while monitoring for any bleeding.

Fear not! If you slowly introduce your dog to nail clippers and continue to trim your dog’s nails in a relaxing setting with treats and praise, your dog will associate nail trims more positively, but it takes time and patience.


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