How to Trim Dog’s Nails – A Beginner’s Guide

Clipping pet’s nails is an important part of cat and dog health and grooming.  It is another thing pets dislike it due to associated discomfort and pain.  Is nail trimming the job of veterinarians? Well, some people leave it to vets even if the visit is stressful for both you and pets.  It is however better to do it yourself. Ideally, the regimen should start with puppies, as they will get used to it.  If you haven’t done it yet you may begin at any time.  Once you and your dog adjust to the routine, the task won’t look unpleasant as it seems. 

How to Trim Dog Nails

So remove your anxiety and get ready to start trimming your dog’s nails.

Purchase: buy nail clippers from pet supplies store. These come in two varieties: a guillotine type and a scissors type. We suggest you buy both. If you are ready to spend a little more, you may also buy a versatile mini power tool (Dremel, for example) which comes with different bits for grinding, sanding and polishing (which is also handy for other DIY jobs).

Preparation: a table with a large piece of cloth spread over it (dining table will do); your dog’s favorite treats and toys; styptic powder or pencils containing silver nitrate to stop bleeding in case of injuries.

Preliminaries: before you begin, it is important to know a few things about dog nails.  A white, clear or pink colored nail is easier to cut. It contains the quite visible “quick”, a pink-colored part containing blood vessel and nerves.  In dark/black claws, the quick is not visible.  

Practice: both you and dog should be in relaxed mood. Place your dog on the table. Make her comfortable by stroking and speaking in soothing tone. Gently handle her claws one by one for few moments and touch her toes and nails, and release.  Feed her treats in between. This should continue for 2 or 3 days or as long as she gets used to it. When you feel it’s the right time, bring the clipper and place it over the nail but don’t cut. Repeat several times.

Practical: stand on the opposite side of the table – the side opposite to the nails you are going to clip. Drape your arms over the dog. Start with front claws. Use the scissors type clipper for long claws (most often the dewclaw). Place the cutter at a right angle and gently shave about 2 mm at a time, starting with the tip. Use the guillotine type clipper for other nails. The cutting blade of this tool should be facing you, NOT the dog. A single cut is sufficient for light colored nails. For dark/black claws, make several cuts until you see a gray or pink oval pink oval. Stop cutting at the sight of the oval otherwise you may cut the quick. File the nails to finish.

Precautions: never cut too deep as it will cut the quick and will make your dog bleed. Apply styptic powder immediately in case of injury.