How to Groom a Dog's Nails

Medium
10 - 20 Minute
2 Week

Introduction

Some dog owners cringe at the idea of cutting and grooming their dog’s nails. So many things could happen - or may have happened if you’ve tried and failed to trim your dog’s nails. Quicking a dog’s nail causes pain and bleeding for the dog, and may be a reason some owners shy of doing this themselves. But with the right tools and knowledge, grooming your dog’s nails can be easy and pain-free. Keeping up with trimming your dog’s nails can help in keeping him healthy and protected from pain, snags, and tears. Well groomed nails also keep your floors protected from scratches or carpet pulls.

Dog's Perspective

If you are feeling anxious about trimming your dog’s nails, your dog will probably feel your anxiety too. Walking on hard ground or hard flooring with overly long nails can be painful to your dog. If your dog hasn't learned how to be poked and prodded and touched in various places besides the wonderful scratch behind his ear, he may be a bit apprehensive about you touching his paw pads or his toes. So be gentle and use a soothing voice to calm any anxieties he may have.

The Clip Cut Method

Effective
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Nail Clipper
Nail File
Step
1
Small clippers
Unless you have a large breed dog, there is no need for large scissor clippers. Keep them small for better control.
Step
2
Sharpened
Before you start, be sure your scissor clippers are sharpened. If not, you are likely to tear rather than cut the nail. A clean cut will be safer and more comfortable.
Step
3
Scissor clippers
Using scissor nail clippers, gently place the nail into between the blades. Do not place the whole nail between the blades. Only cut the ends off. You can always cut more if necessary, but cutting too far down the nail may result in cutting the quick, which is a nerve.
Step
4
Cut
Squeeze the scissor clippers together, shearing off the end of the nail.
Step
5
File
With a dog nail file, grind down and file any rough edges.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat for all your dog's toes. Don't forget your dog's dew claws if they are intact.
Recommend grooming method?

The Dark Nails Method

Effective
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Nail Clipper
Step
1
View underside
A dark or black nail will be more difficult because you won't be able to see the inner part of the nail you need to avoid cutting - the quick. Look for a hook or a split. This is the part you will cut.
Step
2
Tiny cuts
With your nail clippers, cut a tiny bit of the nail tip at a time to avoid cutting the quick and causing pain or bleeding.
Step
3
Straight cut
With these small cuts, try to angle them straight out from the paw pad rather than at a 45 degree angle.
Step
4
Pressure
Before cutting, place the nail clippers on the nail and put a bit of pressure on the nail without cutting. If your dog flinches, do not cut there and lower the clippers toward the end of the nail a bit.
Step
5
Cut
Once you have the tip of the nail between the clippers and are confident you are not too close to the quick, cut. If you need to make more cuts, it's better to do so rather than cutting too close the first time.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Depending on your dog’s size and age, you may find yourself clipping his nails every week or potentially every other week.

  • As your dog ages, you may notice the quick in the nail may become longer.

  • Clear nails will be easier to cut than darker nails because of the redness of the quick inside the nail.

  • If you delay cutting your dog's nails, you may find the quick, or the pink part of the nail that will bleed if cut, might be a little longer than normal.

  • Cutting the quick is what makes cutting toenails scary for apprehensive dog owners.

  • When the quick is accidentally cut, it's painful for your dog and causes bleeding.

  • If you happen to cut your dog's quick while cutting, be sure to provide him love and comfort with a soothing voice and apply a little first aid. Don't let it stop you from cutting his nails again, just make sure he heals before you try the next time.

  • If you do accidentally cut the quick, you can use styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. Your dog may be a little tender and sore for a few days, but this isn't much different than cutting your own fingernails or toenails too short.

  • If your dog is used to the quick in his nails being cut often, he may become a little apprehensive. So be sure to educate yourself so you understand where this nerve starts and how you can avoid cutting it.

Conclusion

Once your dog's nails are smooth and sleek, he is sure to look at you with his puppy-dog eyes and fall into puppy love all over again. Take this nail grooming time to bond with your dog, help him build trust with you, and keep him healthy. Nail trimming does not have to be a ruff task; just learn your way around those toes, and your dog will look and feel quite fetching.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions