How to Cut Dog’s Nail

Taking care of your dog’s nails is an important part of looking after them. If a dog’s nails get too long, it can be uncomfortable and even painful for them. Learning how to cut your dog’s nails the right way is something every dog owner should know, and it’s not as hard as it might seem.

How To Cut Dog's Nail
How To Cut Dog’s Nail

In this article, we’ll take you through the process of trimming your dog’s nails, step by step. We’ll talk about the tools you’ll need, why it’s essential to do this and give you easy-to-follow instructions to make the whole experience stress-free for both you and your dog.

So, let’s get started on keeping your furry friend’s nails in good shape and keeping them happy and healthy.

How Often Should You Cut Your Dog’s Nails?

Here’s an easy rule: cut your dog’s nails about once a month. If your dog is active, like walking on sidewalks a lot, you might need to trim them less often (except for the dewclaws). But if your dog spends most of their time indoors or on soft grass, you might need to cut their nails every two weeks.

It’s not just a short-term issue if your dog’s nails get too long. The quick, which is like the vein inside your dog’s nail, can grow longer too. That means you won’t be able to trim your dog’s nails as short next time.

When Are a Dog’s Nails Too Long?

If you see or hear any of these signs, it means your dog’s nails are too long:

  1. You hear them tapping on hard floors or the ground.
  2. There’s a long, thin part curving out from the nail.
  3. The nail sticks out quite a bit beyond the pink part (this is only visible on dogs with white nails).

What Happens if My Dog’s Nails Get Too Long?

Having long nails can make your dog uncomfortable and unhappy.

Short-term effects of long nails:

  1. Toes feel squished or twisted, which hurts when they walk.
  2. Nails may grow into the paw pad, leading to pain and the risk of infection.
  3. Nails can get stuck in things like carpet, blankets, or their collar.

Long-term effects of long nails:

  1. The quick (the sensitive part) can grow too long, making it hard to trim the nails properly.
  2. Constantly long nails can lead to foot arthritis.
  3. Walking with long nails can cause joint problems due to an unusual stance.

How To Cut a Dog’s Nail  

Before you begin, make sure you have these things ready:

  • Dog treats.
  • Styptic powder or cornstarch/flour (in case of bleeding).
  • Nail clippers or a nail grinder.
  • An extra person to help (optional).
  • Stay calm and patient.

Types of Nail Tools: A step-by-step instruction

There are a few types of tools for nail trimming:

  • Guillotine-style clippers (stay sharp longer but harder to use)
  • Scissors-style clippers (best for small dogs and puppies)
  • Pliers style clippers (stronger and better for large, thick nails)
  • Nail grinders (smooth nails and help avoid hitting the quick).

Step 1: Ease Your Dog Into It

If it’s your first time trimming your dog’s nails:

Let your dog sniff the clippers or grinder and reward them with a treat.

Turn on the grinder or cut a dry spaghetti noodle to get your dog used to the tool’s sound, then reward them.

Trim one nail and give your dog a treat.

Initially, do one nail a day until your dog is comfortable. Gradually increase the number of nails you trim in each session.

Step 2: Picking Up the Paw

Instead of picking up your dog’s paw from the front, try these methods:

  • Sit to the side of your dog, reach under their arm, and hold the paw while trimming.
  • Alternatively, sit behind your dog, flip their paw backwards, and trim while having a good view of the nail.

Step 3: Isolate the Nail to Cut

  • Decide which toe to start with and expose the nail.
  • If your dog has furry feet, move the fur out of the way, especially when using a nail grinder.
  • Hold the toe’s pad with your forefinger and the top of the toe with your thumb.
  • Gently push your forefinger up and backwards on the pad while pushing your thumb forward to extend the nail away from the foot.

Step 4: Decide Where to Cut

The goal is to trim your dog’s nails as short as possible without making them bleed. Here’s how to do it:

  • For white nails, avoid cutting the pink part.
  • On many nails, you can safely trim a skinnier section than the rest.
  • When cutting black nails, trim a little at a time. Stop when you see a black dot in the middle of a chalky white area – that’s the end of the quick.

What Happens if You Cut the Quick?

If you accidentally cut the quick, it will hurt and bleed. Even professional groomers sometimes do it, so don’t worry if it happens.

Keep cornstarch, flour, or styptic powder on hand. They can stop bleeding. Styptic powder can also ease pain because it contains Benzocaine.

To avoid cutting the quick, trim small bits at a time. If you do cut it, stay calm and use styptic powder, flour, or cornstarch to stop the bleeding.

If there’s blood on your dog’s fur, wipe it away with hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball.

Step 5: Cut at a 45° Angle

To trim your dog’s nails correctly, cut at a 45-degree angle instead of straight across. Make sure the cut edge is parallel to the floor.

Step 6: Don’t Forget the Dewclaws

Check all four feet, including the dewclaws. Some dogs have them on their front legs, and some breeds even have double dewclaws on their back legs.

Step 7: Nail Grinding

You can either grind your dog’s nails or use it after trimming with another tool. Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold the grinder towards the top for better control.
  • Keep hair out of the way, both your dog’s fur and your own if it’s long.
  • Use light to medium pressure most of the time. For long, thick nails, you can apply firm pressure, but be careful near the quick.

Step 9: Reward Your Dog

Always give your dog a treat or playtime as a reward after trimming their nails. This helps them associate nail trimming with something positive.

By following these simplified steps, you can make the process of cutting your dog’s nails less intimidating and more comfortable for both you and your furry friend.



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