How to Trim Dog Nails

Dogs love shared activities, but nail trimming may not be one of them especially for beginners. Start toe grooming at an early age for the dog to become accustomed to the process.Before you try trimming your dog’s nails, seek a vet who is also a dog groomer to show you how to trim dog nails without cutting ”the quick”.

After trimming reward your dog with treats, a warm hug and gentle tap on the back.

Dog nails grow at a considerable rate, trimming regularly keeps them in check.

As the nails grow longer they bring about difficulties in walking. Dog owners should be apprehensive on how to trim dog nails, especially for indoor dogs.

With the perfect conditioning and precise cutting, nail clipping is a walk in the park.

Preparing your dog for trimming

How To Trim Dog Nails

Armed with ample knowledge on how to trim dog nails, prepare your dog and the necessary trimming equipment.

Allow the dog to lie on a table, stand opposite the claws you intend to trim. Rest your upper body limply on your dog.

Preferably use the right hand for trimming while holding its paw with the left.

If the dog tries to move or stand up, hold him down with your chest. For wiggling dogs, lay them on their sides.

Using your chest and right arm maintain the dog on her sides. With your left limb, keep its head fixed to the table and with the left hand hold his paw. You could also use a helper to hold him down.

Nail trimming methods

Nail trimming methods come in handy when learning how to trim dog nails. The methods entail using different nail trimmers; these include guillotine type and scissors type trimmers.

Nail Trimmers for Dogs

Guillotine type trimmers are easy to use when it comes to trimming dog nails.

Scissor type trimmers are often used when trimming curled toenails. Long toenails that curl are most evident in the dew claws and since dew claws hardly touch the ground they do not get worn out even when walking.

Scissor type cutters are held perpendicular to the dog’s toenails, with the hand gripping the clipper which moves its cutting blade as the handles are squeezed.

As for a guillotine type cutter, the nail is eased through a stationary ring where a blade moves up and cuts off the nail as the handles are squeezed.

Tips on how to trim a dog nails

Place the handle on your palm and with your fingers try to control the moveable part. While doing this, it will be possible to view the cutting blade as it slides with each squeeze.

Cutting should be from the bottom upwards, not vice versa.

Cut the white parts of the nails leaving the pink area, which harbors the blood vessels. As you are cutting the nails be decisive and smoothly squeeze the handle.

While cutting, take note of the pink area to prevent bleeding. Let the nail fall by itself rather than trying to “pop” its end.

File the nail edges or allow the nail to wear smooth. Have clotting powder nearby in case you accidentally cut the pink area.

If you accidentally cut the nail too and short bleeding starts you can; apply clotting powder, apply pressure on the wound using a tissue paper, or just let it be and within 5-7 minutes the bleeding will cease.

Clipping old dogs or deformed toenails

Most old dogs end up with nails that are; elongated, extremely hard and have long quicks. If the dew claw is torn, it grows back deformed mostly as a result of trauma to its nail bed.

After learning how to trim your dog nails, clipping after a bath reduces the hardness ensuring you trim the nails to the right size.

Alternatively, you can gradually cut the tips to ensure the quick slowly receded with time.

Toenails can be kept extremely short as long as they do not touch the ground or cause the toes to bed. For patient dogs, why not reward them by painting their nails.

Trimming Dog Toenails             

Consequences of having long toenails

To begin with, long toenails are painful and your dog will have a hard time walking.

When the long toenails touch the ground, the hard floor forces the nail back into its nail bed.  This either exerts pressure on the toe joints or the toe twists sideways.

Either way, the dog’s feet become sore and ends up in pain. The dog will fuss when you try to trim his nails since even the slightest touch is painful.

Secondly, your dog depends on the nerves on its feet to process information on gravity and relay it accurately to the brain.

All animals depend on this information to move about. For ages, wild dogs have been hunters running long distances thus wearing out their nails.

The toenails would only come into contact with the ground when scaling a hill. So the dog’s brain is programmed through evolution to associate its toenails with hill climbing.

Lastly, dogs with long toenails tend to have over-used muscles.

From research, it’s evident that it is tedious to maintain a standing position with limbs “camped-in”.

Since dogs associate toenails with hill climbing, they will try to assume the goat-on-a-rock position as their toenails grow longer.

This wears out their hind limb muscles and joints, presenting a difficult time when trying to get up, climb stairs or even jumping into cars. Cutting the toenails will be a reprieve from its tedium.

Other things to note

Learn how to trim a dog nails and keep your dog’s toenails short as it is critical to its health.

Exercise your dog regularly by taking him for walks, this will wear out the nails and nail cutting will not be as necessary.

The more distance your dog covers the more they wear out. Some dogs will act like cutting toenails is an excruciating experience especially for over stimulated toes.

This pain will slowly be driven away as the nails get shorter. According to Dr. Karen Gellman, it is better if you restrain your dog and incorporate behavior modification antics during the initial stage.

Try making the nail trimming exercise “quality time” spent together with your canine companion.


Take good care of your dog as you trim his nails. Even for us humans short neat nails look better than long unkept nails so trim your dog’s nails for that fancy look.

With your dog having short nails you will never worry about floor scratches or torn carpets. Remember that grooming does not end with trimmed toenails, you should also shave your dog and bath him regularly.

Did you find this article useful? Then please share it with your friends so that they can also learn how to trim dog nails.

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