How to Trim a Dog’s Nails

How to Trim a Dog’s Nails

It is important to keep the dog’s nails well trimmed to reduce scratches and keep the dog comfortable. A dog’s nails grow very fast and they need to be cut regularly
depending on the breed.

If a dog is constantly playing or walking on hard surfaces or floors then there is no need for regular
trimming of its nails. Walking or playing on hard surfaces wears out the nails. However, for those dogs that are often in the house or inactive, then cutting the nails is unavoidable.

Some people find the act of trimming their dog’s nails a little uneasy. The sight of the dog’s blood because of poor trimming may make one run to the dog’s groomer every time the dog needs a trim. However, this does not have to be the case if one has the right information about trimming a dog’s nails. Come along with us as we explore how to trim a dog’s nails.

Main Reasons for Trimming the Dog’s NailsClose up picture of a dog's paw

Dog grooming is very important and one of the major steps is maintaining the right length of the dog’s nails.

Letting the dog’s nails grow too long can lead to several negative consequences. Long nails make the dog unable to walk or run comfortably. It can also lead to ingrown nails
and scratches on the pet’s owner or the floor.

Let us look at the various steps of trimming the dog’s nails.

Have the Right Tools for Trimming the Dog’s Nails

The first step is making sure that you have all the necessary tools for cutting the dog’s nails. Several types of nail clippers are available in the market. Although there is a variety of nail clippers in the market, the best type of nail clippers to use is scissor type clippers. Small size nail clippers are the best to use as they have better control. Always have some treats with you to make the experience positive for both you and the dog.

If bleeding occurs during the trimming process, ensure that you use cornstarch to stop bleeding. One can also use commercial clotting powders that prevent bleeding very fast.


Steps to Follow When Trimming the Dog’s Nails

  1. Always make sure that the dog is comfortable. Correct timing is crucial, especially for jumpy puppies that may make the process difficult. Try trimming the dog’s nails when the dog is tired after a long walk or after playtime. Have the dog’s treats throughout the trimming process. Dogs like to be rewarded for their good behavior and treats calms them when they are nervous.
  2. Dog’s nails have a lot of blood supply and therefore, the right precaution should be taken when deciding on the length of the trim.Inside the dog’s nail, there is a part called the quick and one should avoid it at all cost during the trimming process.The quick contains blood vessels thus the reason why one should cut above the quick to avoid bleeding. The quick is a reddish line that cuts across the center of the nail. Note that the quick grows longer as the nail grows longer. Therefore, it is important for one to cut the dog’s nails regularly to avoid cutting the quick as it may lead to lots of bleeding.
  3. After identifying the quick, hold the dog’s foot firmly, but be gentle. Make sure that you are holding the nail clippers comfortably; the movable part of the nail clipper should be held with your fingers.Cut off the dog’s nails using the nail clippers of choice.Place a small part of the nail in scissor type clippers or the guillotine clippers and snip it off. Trimming should be done from underneath. The rear feet nails are short and do not require frequent trimming, unlike the front feet.
  4. After the nail has been trimmed and there is no bleeding, one should file edges to smooth off the rough edges. Alternatively, one can let the rough edges smoothen on their own.

Puppy standing looking like he is falling alseep

What Happens if the Dog’s Nails are Dark

It is impossible for one to see the quick part of the dog’s nails if the nails are black. However, a careful check beneath the dog’s nails can reveal a groove where the
hard part of the nail turns soft.

Note, that the soft dark tissue inside the nail is the part that one should avoid when trimming a dog’s nails. Another important tip is that the dead part is whitish in
color while the quick is the dark area.

Gently applying pressure on the nail can help one in identifying the quick. If the dog jumps or reacts to
the pressure, note that you are close to the quick. If this happens, you need to move the nail clippers to avoid cutting the quick.

The Dog’s Dewclaws

Next, do not forget the dewclaws. Declaws grow very fast because they never touch the ground. Dewclaws are the dog’s nails usually placed on the inner leg and slightly high up on the leg. Cut the dewclaws regularly because if let to grow without trimming they will turn to be ingrown nails and it is too painful for the dog.

What if There is Bleeding When Trimming the Dog’s Nails

Even after taking all the precautions, one may cut the dog’s nails in a way that may cause bleeding. If
that happens, do not panic. Instead, try to apply pressure on the nail’s tip to stop the bleeding. One can also dip the bleeding nail in styptic powder or cornstarch. Cover the bleeding part to prevent
it from getting in contact with dirt and to avoid infections. Stopping the bleeding may take a few minutes; therefore, make sure that you keep reapplying styptic powder until bleeding stops.

In conclusion, after trimming the nails, reward your pup with treats. It is important to keep your
dog’s nails well trimmed. Make it a routine to check the dog’s nails to prevent them from overgrowing. Some people find trimming the dog’s nails as the most challenging grooming task. Always remember that the calmer the dog is, the faster the nail trimming process will be for you and the dog.

Thanks for stopping by and having a read of my blog. Please drop a comment below to lets me know how this has helped you or if you have any questions.



Founder of LoveEachPet.com



  1. Hi Stephen,
    I’m always so scared to cut my dog’s nails. He cries when I try and I always feel like I’m going to hurt him. Your article is really informative. Thanks for taking the time to write it and I’ll keep your advice in mind

    • Thanks for leaving a comment and I’m glad this article was informational for you. Just keep practicing and you will get more comfortable. Have a good one

  2. Hi Stephen,

    The quick, I will not forget that next time I have to cut my dogs nails. I do have some trouble sometimes and so I decided to Google how trim a dogs nails and so I have bookmarked this website’s article here for future reference.

    I am lucky enough because my dog is quite old now but knows exactly I am doing when I got the nail trimmer, he just looks at me, turns and goes to lye down staring at me and looking away. Not happy haha.

    Thanks for the tips here Stephen, very helpful.


    • Hello Philip,
      I glad you found value in this article. I used to always scare me every time I had to do this nail maintenance but with a little practice, you and your dog will get used to it. Thanks for taking the time to leave us a comment.

  3. Doing our dog’s nails always makes me nervous because of the ‘quick’. He is a white Boxer so the quick is easy to see. I only worry about the back feet because he’s super active and rear wheel drive. Our previous Boxer had black nails and I just didn’t have the courage to try. Left that to the Vet.
    I wish I’d known about clipping dark nails back then.

    • I think the quick is the reason most people are scared to trim their dog’s nails. Just take it slow and easy and really watch what you are doing and you should have no problems

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