How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails, a Quick Tutorial

How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails

Unless your dog runs around on hard surfaces that help to keep toenails short, you have to keep the nails clipped to a reasonable length.  If you can hear the nails clicking on a hard surface, or if they get snagged on the carpet, it’s time for a trim.  You can get your vet to do this for you, or, by following this quick tutorial you can learn how to trim your dog’s toenails too.

how to trim Your dog’s toenails
by Ginny, Flickr

If your dog is young, it’s important to get him used to their feet being handled early on. This will allow your dog to get used to having his paws handled regularly and will make it easier to have a calm clipping session.

If your dog is older and has not had this desensitization experience, clipping his nails may be a struggle, but not impossible.  If you are nervous, and most people are the first few times, as your vet to demonstrate the process to you.

Tools You Will Need

You will need a good, quality pair of Dog Nail Trimmers, a nail file, and Styptic Powder or Pads in the case of bleeding.  You can pick these items up at any pet supply store.   Please don’t try to use human clippers.  Dog nail clippers have a different shape and are specially designed to make the clipping as fast and painless as possible.

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How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails

A dog’s toenail is made up of the nail itself and the “quick”.  You can identify the “quick” as the pink part of your dog’s toenails if the nails are a light color.  It’s more difficult to see when the nails are dark, and if this is the case, you may ask your vet to show where your dog’s “quick” is located. (See diagram below.)

The quick provides blood supply to the nail.  You will need to avoid cutting into the quick because it bleeds quite a bit and this is quite sensitive to the dog.

Don’t clip your dog’s nails until you are completely sure what you are doing. Not only will your dog pick up on your anxiousness but he will most probably make things difficult for you

How to trim your dog's toenails

How to trim your dog’s toenails:

The “quick” is the dark part inside the nail — the blood supply to avoid!

How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails:

  1. Hold the foot steady, but hold it gently.

  2. Using either the guillotine or scissors-type clippers, place a tiny bit of the nail in the nail clipper and snip a small bit off the end of each toenail.  Continue to make a series of very small clips at 45-degree angles. This is much safer than making one large cut.

    If the nail feels spongy while you’re trying to cut it, stop immediately — you’re cutting the quick!  If you accidentally cut the quick, apply styptic with gentle pressure.  This will stop the bleeding and the cut will heal in a short time.  (In a pinch, you can dip the nail into flour or baking soda to stop the bleeding.)

    Cutting into the quick hurts a lot, and most dogs remember the experience long afterward, so try to avoid it at any cost.

  3. If your dog has dewclaws, don’t forget to trim them as well.  They tend to grow long because they don’t normally touch the ground and if you fail to cut them, there is a danger that they will eventually grow back into your dog’s foot, which is quite painful.

** If you use a nail grinder rather than clippers, use the same method — hold your dog’s foot, turn on the grinder, and grind a little off each nail.

TIP:  In my experience, I’ve found that one of the best times to trim your dog’s nails is following a walk in the rain, or after a bath.  The nails are softer then and easier to trim.

NOTE:  If you can’t do all your dog’s nails at once, that’s okay.  Do one paw at a time if you have to, but do try to make nail clipping part of their regular grooming.

REMINDER:  Don’t forget treats!  Treats and lavish praises will go a long way towards making trim time a more pleasant experience in the future.

All the best!


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11 thoughts on “How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails, a Quick Tutorial”

  1. I’ve been debating trying this with my dogs but I’m nervous to try! Any tips about trimming their nails when their nails are a dark color, making the quick so much more difficult to see?

  2. This is great info. We trim our cat’s nails from time to time. She loves to dig her claws in us while reciting love. I’m pretty sure a dog is in the ne’er future as well!

    • Whee! I hope you get a dog soon! I have both cats and dogs, as well as a Bearded Dragon lizard (which, by the way, gets her nails trimmed too!) I hope you’re settling well into your new home, Allison. Cheers!

    • Thank you for your comment, Linda. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post, especially since you don’t have a dog. Thank goodness we don’t have to do this to our cats, huh? Mine would not like that! 🙂 Thanks again.


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