How To Trim Dog Nails Without the Drama

How To Trim Dog Nails Without the Drama

Many fur parents dread clipping their dogs’ nails. Allow us to share some tips and tricks to get it done more easily.
01/04/2023 | Sniff & Bark

One of the most challenging parts of being a fur parent is trimming your dog’s nails. While learning how to trim a dog’s nails isn’t hard at all, getting your dog to stay still while you do it is another story. 

Most dogs are uncomfortable when people handle their paws for cutting. Some dogs get even more jittery when you have the nail trimmer out and attempt to shorten their nails. As long as you do it right, cutting dogs’ nails shouldn’t hurt them. Unfortunately, some dogs — like this pug getting his nails trimmed by his owner — don’t know that. Just watch the poor fellow screaming bloody murder even before the nail trimmer gets close enough for trimming! It’s enough to make nervous owners give up on the task completely.

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While it’s tempting to let your dog’s nails grow freely, don’t. In this article, we’ll share how to cut an uncooperative dog’s nails, the best way to trim dog nails, and more important information.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s find out why this tricky chore is a necessary part of your dog’s regular grooming.


4 Reasons To Trim Your Dog’s Nails Regularly

Untrimmed dog nails are longer, sharper, and more difficult for your dog to manage. Here are some reasons why you should trim them regularly:

1. Protect Your Funiture, Floors, and Clothes

They can easily damage furniture, floors, and clothes. If they get rowdy and jump on you, they can also cause painful scratches.

2. Long Nails Can Affect Dogs’ Mobility

Trimming your dog’s nails isn’t just for your own safety and convenience. They’re also better for your four-legged friend. When nails get too long, it can affect how your dog walks and can even cause pain because long nails alter the way weight is distributed on the paw. 

3. Nails are More Likely to Chip and Break

Long nails have a greater tendency to chip and break. If this happens, it’s very painful for dogs because cracked nails splinter all the way to the part where the nail grows and pose a risk of infection. 

4. Can Lead to Ingrown Nails

When dogs’ nails are overgrown, they’re more likely to have ingrown nails. This is when the nail curves into the dog’s foot which is painful. It can also affect a canine’s ability to walk and cause swelling. If the nail cuts into the skin, the ingrown nail can bleed and become infected.


How To Clip Dog Nails in 3 Easy Steps

How to trim overgrown dog nails? To clip your dog’s nails, follow these simple steps:

    1. Hold your dog’s paw firmly with one finger on top of the toe and another finger on the pad beneath it.
    2. Still grasping the top and bottom of one toe, move your finger underneath up and backward while your finger on top pushes forward until you can see the nail extend.
    3. Clip the nail, taking care to avoid the quick or the part of the nail that has blood vessels in it. You only want to remove the curved part to ensure that clipping won’t hurt your pet. If you clip the quick, your dog’s nail may bleed for a few minutes. The more of the quick you cut, the more painful it will be and the longer the recovery time. 

How to clip black dog nails? Trimming is harder when you can’t see the quick. If your dog has black nails and you’re fearful of taking off too much, try clipping shorter lengths until you get used to how much you can trim safely. You can also turn the paw until you can see its underside. This can offer a better view because you can see the quick more easily (the darker part of the nail).


Tips for Drama-free Nail Trimming

Pet owners often ask, “What is the easiest way to trim dog nails?” Different things will work for different dogs but you can give the tips below a try to make the activity a lot smoother.

    • Start with the nails in the hind legs. They’re less sensitive than the ones on the front paws.
    • How to trim puppy nails? If your dog is a puppy, you can start clipping its nails once it’s about six weeks old. To get your pup used to it, you can hold its paws even when you aren’t planning on trimming the nails. When learning how to clip puppy nails, slowly introduce them to the process by trimming a few nails each time and rewarding your pup with treats. You can also use treats and favorite snacks (like peanut butter) to distract adult dogs.
    • Wet nails are softer and easier to cut. You can moisten your dog’s paw with a wet rag before cutting. This is also helpful if your pet has a lot of fur. Once the fur is wet, just push the fur aside so the nail is more visible.
    • To see the nail and the quick more clearly, proper lighting is essential. If you have a headlamp, use it.
    • Trimming your dog’s nails while it's sleeping may seem like a good idea but know that its feet are more sensitive during this time. If you want to try clipping when your dog is napping, try holding and manipulating the paws first to see if it’s feasible.  

If it’s your first time trimming dog nails, you might be afraid of hurting your pet, especially if your dog is a drama queen or moves around a lot. However, it’s something that needs to be done. With the steps and tips we shared, you can make clipping nails easier for you and your dog.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long should dog nails be?

The key thing to remember when trimming dogs’ nails is to avoid the quick. When clipping, leave at least a 2-millimeter allowance before reaching the quick.

Can I trim my dog's nails myself?

Absolutely. With the tips and tricks in this article, you should be able to do the trimming yourself. However, if you or your dog are excessively anxious about it, you can opt to have it done at a grooming salon.

How do you cut a dog's nails without it hurting?

As long as you avoid the quick, nail trimming should be a painless experience for your pet.

Is it better to cut or file dog nails?

It depends on what “better” means for you. Filing a dog’s nails is safer because there isn’t much of a chance that you’ll cut off the quick, however, it takes longer. Some owners like to cut the nail and then file it for a smoother finish.

What should I do if I accidentally cut off too much and it starts to bleed?

First off, relax and try to soothe your dog. Even experienced groomers can make this mistake from time to time. If you have styptic powder, apply it to the bleeding nail. Styptic powder is an antiseptic agent that promotes clotting so it will help stop the bleeding. If you don’t have styptic powder, you can combine cornstarch with baking soda to the affected area.


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