The Ultimate Guide To Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Trimming your dog’s nails is always a battle for both human and furry friend alike, so learn the best tips and tricks here!


Trimming your pup’s nails can be intimidating because most are afraid they’ll trim the quick and do real damage and hurt their dog, but it doesn’t have to be such a nail biter. 


Avoid trimming the quick with expert tried and true tips from The Vet Set! In today’s post, we’ll discover the best ways to trim your dog’s nails without breaking into a sweat each time. 

Your Dog’s Nails


Just like humans, dog’s nails grow and they need to be trimmed to avoid long, painful nails and feet. Long dog nails would be similar to having an ingrown toenail on each toe and on both feet — it’s just not comfortable! 


But wild animals don’t need to trim their nails, so why do we trim domesticated dogs?  


Animals in nature naturally wear down their nails from all the running and activity they get, and the same is generally true for active dogs. If you’re hiking and running with your dog on a daily basis their nails will naturally stay trim, but if you have more of a laissez-faire, city dog, their nails will require more maintenance. 


So, you’ll have to trim them! 


The problem is not so much trimming the nail, it’s your fear and your dog’s fear that can make you anxious and stressed. If your dog won’t sit still this can complicate everything, so it’s important to really establish a calm and relaxing environment. 


Before we talk trimming tips, let’s first get into the quick.


The quick of your dog’s nail bed is the visible pink part of the nail that is vascular. In light colored nails it’s easy to identify, however, if you have a dog with dark-colored nails, it can make it more challenging.  


To find the quick on a dark-colored nail, the best thing to do is look at the whole nail and gauge how deep you should go. Begin by trimming small bits at a time. 


Tips For Trimming Your Dog’ Nails


Begin by choosing a nail trimmer. There are different varieties including:


  • Guillotine style
  • Scissors-style
  • Small/medium plier-style
  • Large pliers-style


Step 1: Position your dog.


Make sure both you and your dog are in a comfortable position. Grasp your dog’s paw gently but firmly before the first cut is made. 


Step 2: Begin Trimming


With the hand that is not doing the cutting, hold your dog’s footpad with the bottom of your thumb with your fingers on top. Now you’re ready to start trimming!


Once you’ve identified the quick and you’re positioned to make the first cut, now is the time to do it! Take a deep breath and begin trimming! 


Pro trimming tip: never haphazardly put the entire nail in the trimmer and just cut. There is a right way and a couple of wrong ways to cut. 


The wrong way – Trimming a large portion of the nail close bordering the quick and going in at a very sharp angle that is not only extremely close to the nail bed, but a cut that will likely knick the quick. 


The right way: Go in slowly, point the trimmer towards your dog and clip at a slight angle.  


Step 3: Stop any bleeding.


If there is any bleeding your dog will typically wince and yelp in pain because you’ve hit the quick. Take a mental note of what you did and try to avoid it on the other nails. 


Hitting the quick is not an emergency and though you may feel terrible for hurting your dog, don’t panic and help them by stopping any bleeding. Grab styptic powder, or if you don’t have any, cornstarch or flour will do the trick. 


Stop the bleeding by rapidly packing the nail with the powder.  


Give your dog a break and let them recoup a little with treats and snuggles, and move on to the next nail…you can do it! 


It’s important to keep your dog’s nails short and trim to prevent uncomfortably long nails and to help keep them more mobile. It’s important to identify the quick of the nail bed and make your cuts accordingly. When in doubt, go slowly and just take a little bit off at a time. 

The best part? The more you do it, the easier and less stressful it becomes!


To learn more about our dog vet services or to schedule an appointment, call our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today!  


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