How to Trim Dog Nails Safely

Nail Trimming is an Essential Part of Dog Grooming

Trim nails are a clear sign of your dog’s good hygiene. Professional groomers will perform the task for squeamish owners, but nail trimming is a simple procedure if done correctly.

Nail trimming seems to be an anxiety-laden experience for many dogs. Start trimming claws during a dog’s early years so he becomes accustomed to the process. Some dogs will sit in your lap or on a table while you clip their nails, but many need some form of restraint.

 

Getting Your Dog Comfortable 

In as little as a week, you can have one of those “rare” dogs who doesn’t mind nail trimming one bit.

A tip: It helps if you frequently touch and hold your puppy’s paws (cheerfully) right from the first day you get him so he understands that it is OK for you to do this to him.

  • Day one: Let your puppy sniff the nail clipper. Give a treat and praise.
  • Day two: Touch the nail clipper to each paw. Just touch. Give a treat and praise.
  • Day three: Touch the nail clipper to each paw and squeeze it so the puppy hears the sound. Don’t actually cut a nail. Give a treat and praise.
  • Day four: Touch the nail clipper to your puppy’s nail. Give a treat and praise.
  • Day five: Try trimming off just the very tiniest tip from one front paw nail. Only do one. Offer lots of happy praise and a treat if your puppy lets you.  Even if he lets you, just do one. Repeat every day until he lets you do this and doesn’t seem to mind.
  • Day six: Try trimming just the tip off two nails.
  • Day seven: Keep working your way up, trimming additional nails each day, until you’ve got them all and your puppy doesn’t mind. Keep practicing, even when you don’t need to clip a nail. Even pretending you are clipping, going through the motions, will have an impact.    
     

trimming dog nails

 

Clipping Your Dogs Nails:

There are several types of dog nail trimmers, including scissors, grinder tools and guillotine types.

Follow the steps below to trim your dogs nails: 

  1. Pick up a paw and firmly but gently place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail.
  2. Push you thumb slightly up and backward on the pad while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail.
  3. Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across.
  4. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting what is called the quick. A nick there is painful and will bleed.
     

 

 

Failing to Cut Your Dogs Nails 

Regular nail maintenance is more than cosmetic. Unhealthy nails can cause pain and, in rare instances, trigger irreversible damage to the dog.

A dog’s nail consists of the living pink quick and the hard outer material called the shell. The quick supplies blood to the nail and runs through the core of it. Nerves in the quick cause bleeding and discomfort when cut. Regular nail trimming will cause the quick to recede from the end. Short quicks are the preferred length for the dog’s well-being and easy maintenance.

Long nails can turn a sound paw into a splayed foot and reduce traction, and they can cause deformed feet and injure the tendons over an extended period. As the long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts force on the foot and leg structure.

For more advice on keeping your dog groomed and healthy, check out the video below.