How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Most dog owners relinquish the job of clipping their dog's nails to a groomer or veterinarian.

Your dog may not like to have his paws touched, but trimming his nails need not become an ordeal. Ease into the job by handling your puppy's paws on a regular basis so that she gets accustomed to the attention. If your puppy is used to having her paws touched, your once-a-month trimming battle is half-won.
Trimming supplies
You will need to purchase a couple of supplies to successfully trim your dog's nails:

  • A nail trimmer that is specifically designed for your dog's size. They come in both scissor and guillotine styles. Either is fine; simply decide which type you and your dog will be most comfortable with.
  • A small bottle of blood-clotting powder. It is much better to have it on hand and never need it than otherwise.

The 5-step trimming technique
There are two ways you can position your dog for nail-trimming: have her sit beside you or put her in a laying down position. If you have a very small dog, you can even sit her on your lap while you trim. Once your dog is situated, begin clipping:

  1. Take the first paw in your hand and gently remove any dirt from around the nail.
  2. Locate the "quick" within the nail - you want to avoid this vein. If you cannot see the quick, stop cutting at the point where the nail begins to curve downward.
  3. Gradually shorten the nail, working one at a time.
  4. If you do accidentally cut into the quick, don't panic! It will bleed profusely, but it looks worse than it is. Using a cotton swab, apply some clotting powder to the end of the nail and press against it firmly for about two minutes.
  5. Repeat the nail-cutting process and don’t forget the dewclaws located on the inside of the front and/or rear legs. (Some dogs don't have dewclaws, so if you don’t see any, don't worry—it just means you have less nails to trim!)

This process may seem a bit daunting, particularly at first. But it is actually simple and painless. Once you and your dog are relaxed and comfortable, nail trimming will easily become part of your routine.