How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Finding Nail Clippers for Your Dog
There are two basic styles of nail clippers for dogs: a scissors type and a guillotine type. They both work equally well, so choose the design that you’re most comfortable with.

If your dog finds both kinds of clippers intolerable, an alternative tool is a nail grinder, an electric tool that sands nails down. These offer great control, but take longer than clippers and some people (and dogs) find the sounds and vibrations they produce unpleasant. Ask your veterinarian or groomer for advice about what types of nail trimmers are best for your dog and how to use them properly.

  1. Begin by spreading each of your dog’s feet to inspect for dirt and debris.
  2. Take your dog’s toe and hold it firmly, but gently. Hold your trimmer so that you’re cutting the nail from top to bottom at a slight angle, not side to side, and insert a very small length of nail through the trimmer’s opening to cut off the tip of each nail. Don’t trim at a blunt angle as to maintain the existing curvature of the nail.
  3. Cut a little bit of nail with each pass until you can see the beginning of a circle—still nail-colored—appear on the cut surface. The circle indicates that you are nearing the quick, a vein that runs into the nail, so it’s time to stop that nail and move on to the next.
  4. If your dog has black nails, however, the quick will not be as easily discernible, so be extra careful. If you do accidentally cut into the quick, it may bleed, in which case you can apply some styptic powder or corn starch to stop the bleeding.
  5. Once the nails have been cut, use an emery board to smooth any rough edges.
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