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How To Cut Your Dog’s Nails

Clipping your dog’s nails is a necessary part of their health and grooming routine. It is necessary because untrimmed nails can catch on carpet, furniture or clothing and will break and bleed, which is painful for your pet. Untrimmed nails can also become ingrown, which is extremely painful and may cause infection.

Sometimes, for both dog and owner, it can be daunting and become a traumatic experience. The following information and tips explain how to clip your dog’s nails, hopefully with little to no stress for you and your dog.

Before You Start

Before you clip your dog’s nails for the first time start by introducing the clippers to them. Pick up their feet, massage them and rub the toes, all while praising them. Then introduce the nail clippers by touching their feet and nails with them, placing them over the nail but not clipping.  If they behave give them a treat after each new step to reinforce it as a positive experience. Getting them use to this process may take a few days, weeks or even months if they are particularly nervous about having their feet handled. When your dog is use to this you can then move on to cutting the nails. Start slowly by just doing a few nails or one paw at a time.

What Nail Clippers To Use

There are several styles of nail trimmers made especially for dogs, including guillotine, scissor styles and files. There are different sizes available to suit small or large breeds. Generally the guillotine style clippers are easier to use but try various types until you find one that you feel comfortable using on your dog’s nails. A sharp nail trimmer makes the job much quicker and easier. You can also use a nail file to smooth out any rough or splintered edges after clipping.

Clipping Your Dog’s Nails

How to clip your dog's nails
Gently squeeze the paw to extend the nail for clipping.
  1. Get everything you need (clippers, treats, tissues etc) within arms reach. If necessary enlist someone to help you hold your dog to make the process easier.
  2. Start by holding their paw and gently squeeze to get the nail to extend.
  3. Identify the quick, this is the vein that runs from the base of the nail. It will look like a pink line through the nail. It can be hard to identify in black nails so check with your vet if unsure. You do not want to cut this as it will bleed.
  4. Wait until the animal is still and then cut the tip of the nail off, without cutting the quick.
  5. Repeat the process on all nails.
How much to clip of your dog's nails.

You need to avoid cutting the nail quick. This is the vein that runs form the base of the nail and will bleed if cut. The quick looks like a pink line on the underside of the nail but it can be harder to see on a black nail. Start but just cutting a small amount off the nail. You can always trim more off if needed.

Top Tips

  • If you are unsure get a veterinarian, vet nurse or groomer to show you how to do it. They will be able to point out the quick and show you how to do it safely.
  • Start young! By introducing nail clipping at an early age it makes it just part of their general routine and hopefully nothing to be scared of.
  • Trim your dogs nails on a regular basis before they get too long. Overgrown nails are also much more difficult to trim, because the quick, which supplies blood to the nail, will extend down further if the nails grow very long.
  • If you do accidentally clip the quick and the nail bleeds apply pressure with a tissue or cotton swab and hold it there until the bleeding subsides. It should stop within five minutes but if it doesn’t contact your veterinarian.
  • Dewclaws, which are found attached to a small area of skin on the back or side of the paw, do not touch the ground when the pet walks and therefore do not wear down naturally. Make sure to check and trim dewclaws often, because they have a tendency to become ingrown. If you cannot find the dewclaw, do not worry, some pets do not have them.
  • Make the nail clipping experience a calm and rewarding one for your pet. Give them lots of praise, pats and treats for being well behaved.

If clipping your dog’s nails is just too hard or stressful most vet clinics and grooming salons will be able to clip your dog’s nails for you.

Here are some of our most popular nail clippers or to view the full range of nail clippers available at vet-n-pet DIRECT click here.

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