Are You Clipping Your Dog’s Nails the Safest, Easiest Way?

Dogs aren’t always the most obedient creatures when it comes time to clip their nails. In fact, the act of clipping a dog’s nails can often turn an otherwise calm dog into a stressed out pet that could be prone to nipping or biting.

In a lot of situations, this reaction is caused by the pet owner’s frustration at trying to ensure their pet’s nails are clipped safely. In other cases, a pet owner might be trimming their pet’s nails completely wrong. In either case, knowing how to clip your dog’s nails properly will make the entire procedure easier and more comfortable for both you and your dog. With that in mind, here is an all-purpose guide to clipping your dog’s nails.

how to cut dog nails

How Often Should a Dog’s Nails Be Clipped?

For starters, the length of time between clippings depends on how fast a dog’s nails actually grow. For dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, they can usually go longer between clippings because their outdoor activities help to naturally keep them shorter.

But, you will still have to watch the dew claws, or “thumbs,” because these claws rarely touch the surface and they will continue to grow, even for outdoor dogs. For dogs that spend most of their time indoors, however, their nails should be trimmed anywhere from once a week to once a month.

When Should I Start Trimming My Dog’s Nails?

The best way to ensure your dog becomes accustomed to getting her nails cut is to start trimming them as early as possible, preferably when she is still a pup. This way, as she ages, she will grow more comfortable with the process – and so will you.

Types of Nail Trimmers for Dogs

Pet owners have a wide array of different nail clippers they can choose from for their dogs. The most common types include:

  • Scissors-style clippers
  • Guillotine-style clippers
  • Small/medium pliers-style clippers
  • Large pliers-style clippers
  • Rotary trimmers

While each of these styles has their benefits, the most important things to look for when shopping for canine nail clippers include quality construction, a concaved cutting edge to prevent nail crushing, and the appropriate clippers for your dog’s nail size.

How to Clip Your Dog’s Nails

When it is time to trim your dog’s nails, it is always a good idea to have treats on hand. The treats will help make the nail clipping experience a positive one. Another important tip is to realize that you don’t have to trim all of the nails in one sitting. If your dog starts showing signs of anxiety, it is perfectly okay to stop what you’re doing and return to them later or the next day.

When clipping, clip one nail and then reward your pup with a treat. Do the next nail and reward her with another treat.

One proven technique is to hold the handle of the nail trimmers flat against the toe pad as you cut straight across the nail. This will ensure that the nail will sit just above the ground. Another advantage of this technique is that it reduces the risk of you cutting your dog’s nails too short.

Finding the Right Location of the Dog’s Nails Before Trimming

Another technique is to make the cut at a 45-degree angle after you identify the edge of the quick (the pink area inside the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are located). If your dog has one or more black nails, you can see where the quick ends by looking at the underside of the nail. You will see that towards the tip, the nail the color separates out into a triangular shape. At this spot, there is no quick so it will be safe to cut the remainder of the nail off.

If you’re still unsure about the quick’s location, then what you can do is apply gentle pressure with the clippers on your dog’s nail. If your dog reacts to the pressure, then odds are you are too close to the quick. Move the clippers down the nail and apply gentle pressure again. When your dog doesn’t react, you will know you are at a safe spot to clip.

What to Do if You Cut the Quick

If you cut the nail and hit the quick, your dog will most likely yelp in pain and you will notice the tip of the nail starting to bleed. You can stop the bleeding by using a styptic pencil or powder. Another solution is to run a clean bar of soap under the damaged nail. The soap will help prevent the quick from bleeding. Unfortunately, should you hit the quick, it will make your dog anxious the next time you go to cut her nails so make sure you have a good supply of treats ready.

Author: Giano Panzarella