Dog Nail Care

Is trimming your dog’s nails a stressful event for you both?  It doesn’t have to be. Using the right tools and technique, along with yummy treats and lots of praise can make it fun.  Well, maybe not fun, but at least not the worst thing in the world.

Puppy’s paws should be handled as much as possible.  While your puppy is laying with you, gently hold and rub the paws and nails as much as you can.  Massage the pads and run your fingers along the nails. Give praise and treats while you do this so your puppy learns that there isn’t anything scary about having his feet and nails touched.  This will go a long way in making nail trimming a much easier event. If your puppy won’t let you, don’t give up. Touch as much you can and then try to do a little more next time. It may take time to build up enough trust to be able to give a massage and touch the nails.  It depends on the dog and how trusting they are. Don’t rush it.

paw holding - Edited

Once you feel you and your pup have enough trust that you can try to trim the nails, bring out the clippers, but don’t start cutting just yet.  Show them to your pup and let them sniff, lick, and investigate the clippers for as long as they need. They may get scared and try to avoid letting you cut their nails by running away, barking, or showing stress or fear in other ways.  Don’t try to rush them and try not to get frustrated. Your frustration will only amplify the feelings they are already experiencing and it will make things more difficult. If all you can do this time is show your dog the clippers, you’ve made progress.  Give them a treat and some love and try another day. Although the goal is to trim their nails. The more important goal is getting them to be comfortable with you and the clippers while you trim their nails.

How to trim a dog’s nails

Dogs have something called a “quick”, which is just a blood vessel, that runs through their nail.  When a nail is cut too short, it bleeds because the “quick” has been cut.

nail trim photo

This can be avoided by making sure not to cut the nail too short.  If a nail does bleed, simply apply Styptic powder to the tip and the bleeding will stop.  If no Styptic powder is available, cornstarch will work. Sometimes, when nails have not been cut for a long time and they are long, the “quick” grows out and makes it impossible to cut the nail down properly without cutting it.   This is one of the reasons it’s important to keep nails trimmed regularly. In these cases, it’s best to just trim the tips of the nails and then trim again in about a week. Repeat this until the nails are the proper length. As the nails are trimmed the “quick” shrinks back and that’s why the nail can be trimmed shorter the following week.  

Holding the dog’s paw firmly but not squeezing, use your fingers to separate and hold each nail as you cut it.  Never twist the dog’s nail or paw. Make sure to cut quickly and firmly. Once the nail has been cut you may want to use a nail file or dremel tool to make sure any rough edges are smoothed down.  Dremel tools can be used in place of nail clippers once the nails are short enough to maintain. Some dogs prefer them.

nail trim - Edited

How often do you trim nails?

Dog’s nails should be trimmed every 2 – 3 months.  If they make a clicking sound on the floor when the dog walks, that’s a sign that they need to be cut.  Overgrown nails can cause pain to the dog, reduce traction, injure tendons, and even cause deformed feet over time.  

What type of trimmers are the best?

There are 3 types of nail trimmers:  guillotine, scissor clippers, and grinders.  I don’t personally use or recommend the guillotine style.  I think the scissors allow you to see exactly where you are cutting and are fast and easy to use.  I also think they are a bit safer for the dog. I use the grinder to smooth away any rough edges or for dogs that aren’t comfortable with the scissors.

There are 3 types of nail trimmers:  guillotine, scissor clippers, and grinders.  I don’t personally use or recommend the guillotine style.  I think the scissors allow you to see exactly where you are cutting and are fast and easy to use.  I also think they are a bit safer for the dog. 

trimmer - Edited (1)

I use the grinder to smooth away any rough edges or for dogs that aren’t comfortable with the scissors.

Screenshot 2018-05-12 at 4.07.53 PM - Edited

Once the nails are trimmed nicely, make sure there are no rough or jagged edges and you’re done! You can always add some doggy polish for a special occasion.20180329_170732

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