How to clip a dog’s nails

While most dogs do not like having their nails trimmed, with some patience it is a task you can complete at home. It’s best to start trimming nails in young dogs so that they get used to the process.

How do you safely clip a dog’s nails?

Some dogs will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you trim their claws, but many require some form of restraint. While this can done at home, it’s recommended owners learn to trim their dog’s nails from a veterinarian or veterinary technician first.

To clip your dog’s nails, drape your arms and upper body over the animal. When trimming the front claws, keep your left forearm over the neck to keep the dog from lifting its head. If the dog tries to stand, lean your upper body over its shoulders to prevent it from rising. If your dog is too wiggly, try laying it on its side. Grip each individual toe firmly with your thumb and forefinger.

Place the tip of the nail in the stationary ring of the trimmer with the clipper perpendicular to the nail. Squeeze the handle to move the cutting blade. The cutting blade should be closest to you, not the dog. Be sure not to cut too short, as the nail will bleed. Nails should be cut from underneath at a 45-degree angle.

How do you avoid cutting a dog’s nails too short?

It is important to be careful to not clip your dog’s nails too short and cut into the quick, which can be painful for the animal and cause bleeding.

There are several styles of nail trimmers, including a guillotine type and a scissors type. The guillotine-type is the easiest to use in dogs. The scissors-type is often used to trim the dew claw.

Light colored claws are easier to cut than dark claws, as the blood vessels and nerves that supply the claw, called the quick, are easier to see. Cut dark colored claws in several small cuts to reduce the chance of cutting into the quick. It’s best to not cut within 2 millimeters of the quick.

As you cut the nail deeper, a gray to pink oval starts to appear at the top of the cut surface of the nail. Stop cutting the nail at this point as additional cutting will cut into the quick and cause bleeding.

Styptic powder stops bleeding when applied. It is recommended to have styptic powder on hand in the event a nail is cut too short. Without styptic powder it may take about 5 minutes for the bleeding to stop.

How do I clip a dew claw?

The dew claw, which is attached by loose skin, can usually be bent away from the leg so that you can trim easily with the scissors-type trimmer. The dew claw is on the inner side of the paw and often grows into the toe pad causing pain for dogs. Dew claws do not touch the ground and are not worn down by walking, so it is important they are cut regularly.