Using Dog Nail Clippers for Trimming Dog Nails

Using Dog Nail Clippers
Trimming Dog Nails Without Fuss

Are you and your dog scared of those dog nail clippers? Trimming dog nails is easy when you know how. Here’s a step-by-step guide of dog nail clipping instruction and how to use nail clippers for dogs without fuss.

The Reasons for Dog Nail Clipping

Dogs that habitually walk on hard, rough surfaces will have their nails trimmed naturally. However, if you walk your dog on the beach or through the soft soils of woodlands, and it spends the rest of its time on carpets and smooth floors or lawn at home, then chances are you will need to use dog nail clippers regularly to keep its feet in top shape.

In such circumstances, owners who avoid clipping dog nails can make it much harder on themselves and their pets in the long run. The “quick” tends to extend in length with the nail so that overgrown nails require frequent, cautious trimming to restore them to a natural shape.

Long nails deform the foot and the gait, get caught in things causing intense pain, and can impact the health of the spine. They are particularly problematic for arthritic dogs and add to their discomfort.

Given the importance of regular dog nail clipping, you can either spend a fortune with regular visits to your veterinarian or dog groomer, or make up your mind to learn how to trim dog nails successfully yourself, with the aid of a set of quality dog nail clippers.

Trimming Dog Nails

If in Doubt, Watch A Professional First

Before you have your first shot at dog nail clipping, it will bolster your confidence to watch a professional (e.g. veterinarian or dog groomer) demonstrate it first. Ask politely if they would explain each step to you as they go, or simply watch this video:


Using Dog Nail Clippers on the Reluctant Dog

Dog nail clipping can be pretty daunting for the uninitiated, but even more so when your dog is uncooperative! It is good to start when dogs are young to get them used to having their feet held and manipulated.

With any dog, start by placing it on a stable table or bench so that it is at a convenient height for you to work from. This also makes it easier to restrain the dog and prevent it from slipping away.

Ensure the dog is calm as possible before you begin. Use a soothing tone to reassure your dog. Have an assistant hold your dog for you if necessary. Remember that dogs need a strong master to be at their happiest so be determined that you will succeed!

To begin, hold your dog firmly against your body. Be patient, and try to make the experience as positive as possible. Reward your dog with a small treat and kind words as soon as they allow you to hold their foot, and after each nail is successfully cut.

Understand the Anatomy of Your Dog’s Nails


You need to be familiar with the anatomy of their nails, if you want to avoid hurting your dog while clipping them.

trimming dog nails

The “quick” is the soft inner core of a dog’s nail that carries the blood vessels and tender nerve endings. It is protected by a hard outer cover.

Ideally when clipping dog nails you are aiming to trim them a quarter of an inch (half a centimeter) before the quick irrespective of their current length. This is to avoid cutting into the quick which will not only cause pain to your dog, but also bleed.

In dogs with pale colored nails the quick is easily visible by its pale pink color, and so easy to avoid.

For black nails, nibble just a little bit off at a time. Notice the whitish chalky texture of the nail. As you trim dog nails further, the texture becomes blacker and less chalky which is your signal that you have gone far enough.

Clip the nails from below, at an angle of 45 degrees. Always use quick, strong movements when cutting. If your dog nail clipper is not sharp or strong enough you are better to stop right there and wait until your get a pair of quality nail clippers for dogs.

What to Do If You Cut the Quick

Reassure your dog, say sorry and give it a treat. Have on hand something that will rapidly arrest the bleeding. Commercial products for this job are styptic powder or a styptic stick. However, you can also substitute a little flour or cornstarch. Just put a dime-sized amount in the palm of your hand, or in a jam lid, and dip the end of the bleeding claw into it.

Best Dog Nail Clippers

There are a lot of pet nail clippers on the market. The important thing to remember is that the blade must be sharp. A dull blade can cause the nail to chip or crack, which can be painful, and make the job of trimming dog nails traumatic for you and your pet.

Unfortunately, cheap quality dog nail clippers can be too weak to deliver a clean cut, and instead painfully crush or splinter the nail. They also tend to blunt rapidly. A strongly made will make the job easy and stay sharp for a long time. A decent pair will only set you back about $10.

Scissor Type Nail Clippers for Dogs

The scissor type of dog nail clippers has blades that come together in a scissoring action. It works well on all breeds. It delivers a stronger cut than the guillotine types, making it the right choice for large breeds because their nails tend to be harder.

Guillotine Type Nail Clippers for Dogs

The guillotine type has an opening in which to place the nail, then the blade comes up from underneath. It is fine for smaller breeds.

You can also use a small file to remove any rough edges remaining after trimming. However, it is better not to prolong the process in a nervous dog, and a quick walk will accomplish the same effect.


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