How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

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How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Nail trims can be stressful for dogs and pet parents, but they don’t have to be! There are a variety of nail trimmers available, but the scissor-styles and Dremel-styles tend to work the best. Be sure the scissor-style nail trimmers remain sharp to deter excess pressure and discomfort when trimming. Replace the Dremel tip often for the quickest and best results.

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Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

To start, gently hold your pet's paw, putting your forefinger on the digit pad and your thumb on top of the digit/nail junction to help isolate the nail you’re working on. If your dog has long fur on the paws, you may need to use an electric clipper/razor to cut back the fur around the nails first. Avoid using scissors as you don’t want to accidentally cut the skin or pad.

Next, take a good look at your dog’s paw and nail. If the nail appears brittle, cracked, or overly thickened, call us or your veterinarian. This could indicate a disease process with the nails that needs to be addressed first.

If your dog’s nails appear healthy, it’s ok to proceed with the nail trim. Note that the nail is thicker at the base where it attaches to the digit. As you move down the nail toward the tip, there should be a noticeably smaller area where the nail almost hooks. This is the area you want to trim back to. The thicker area has the sensitive quick (sometimes spelled kwik), which contains a blood vessel and nerves. If you’re uncertain, start at the tip and make 1-2mm cuts at a time. When you see a white center, stop. This means you’re getting close to the quick.

If you’re using a Dremel-type device, apply gentle pressure and allow the Dremel to file the nail back.

What to do if the nail bleeds

If you accidentally cut or Dremel into the quick and blood is present, use corn starch or Kwik-Stop (styptic powder) to control the bleeding. Apply a pinch to the bleeding nail and hold pressure at the tip for about 30 seconds to allow a clot to form.

Read more in our related article, here!

Make Nail Trims Fun!

Be sure to give your dog plenty of treats and praise during the nail trim so they associate the trims as a positive experience. If you’re doing this alone, you can sit on the bathroom floor and smear peanut butter or easy cheese on the side of the tub so your pup can lick it off as you trim her nails.

Read more:

How to Safely Trim Your Pet's Nails

What causes abnormal nail growth in dogs?

Abnormal Nail Color in Dogs

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Published: 10/8/2020
Last updated: 10/29/2021

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