How to Trim a Dog’s Nails at Home

When you take your dog to the vet, you can always ask for a quick nail trim.  Some veterinarians will allow you to bring your dog in periodically just for a nail clipping.  But you can also learn how to trim a dog’s nails at home.  Trimming a dog’s nails is not difficult if you learn how to do it correctly and safely.  Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian for a quick tutorial. Affiliate Disclosure

How to Make Your Dog Comfortable with Nail Trimming

Here are a few tips to help your dog’s anxiety around nail trimming.  You should do these over a period of a few days.

Handle their feet. It’s best to start handling your dog’s paws (especially when they’re puppies) on a regular basis to get them used to you touching their feet.

Let them check out the clippers. Let your dog sniff and explore the nail clippers.  Then touch each paw with the nail clippers, giving a small treat and praise each time.  Then squeeze the clippers a couple of times (without actually clipping) to let your dog hear the sound of it.  Again, give praise and treats.

Start slowly.  You should start out slowly – perhaps trimming only one toenail, then the next time maybe two or three toenails, then the next time perhaps an entire paw, then two paws, etc.  Taking it slow will help ease your dog’s anxiety.  Remember to give praise and treats afterward.  You want your dog to associate nail trimming with treats!

how to trim a dog's nailsDistract them! Here’s a fantastic tip from the American Kennel Club.  While you’re trimming your dog’s nails, let him lick peanut butter from a silicone lick mat.  

How to Cut a Dog’s Nails

Choose the type of nail trimmers you’re comfortable with, or clippers your vet suggests.  You can find a selection of dog nail trimmers HERE It’s also a good idea to have some styptic powder nearby to stop bleeding just in case you cut a nail too short.

Here’s a helpful tutorial from Chewy on how to clip a dog’s nails.

how to trim a dog's nails at homeSteps for Cutting a Dog’s Nails

1.  Grasp one paw gently and push backward a bit on the bottom and top of the paw to extend the nail.

2.  Clip only the very tip of the nail.  Don’t forget the dewclaws on the inner side of their paw.

3.  Do not clip past the curve of the nail or you could cut the quick by accident.  The quick is the part of the nail that contains blood vessels, and it will be painful and start to bleed if you cut into the quick.  It’s best to err on the side of caution here; cut just the tip until you are more experienced.  But if you do cut too short, here’s how to stop the bleeding:  Put a small amount of styptic powder (or flour or cornstarch) on your finger and press the powder into the nail tip. Apply pressure for a few seconds so the powder will stick.  If the bleeding does not stop after several minutes, call your veterinarian for further instructions.

How to Trim a Dog's NailsHow Often Should You Trim a Dog’s Nails?

This depends on how quickly your dog’s nails grow and how much they get worn down without clipping.  Dogs who regularly walk or run on sidewalks or pavement will probably need nail trimming less often or not at all.  An inside dog will need their nails trimmed more often. The average would be about every three to four weeks.  You’ll know it’s time to trim your dog’s nails if the nail is touching the floor when your dog is standing.

How to Cut a Cat’s Nails

If you’d like help with trimming your cat’s nails, read my article, How to Cut a Cat’s Nails at Home (includes video).

I Hope This Helps!

I know it’s hard not to get nervous when you’re cutting your pet’s nails for the first time.  If you’re just not ok with it, then arrange for regular trimmings with your vet’s office or a local dog groomer.  Remember that it takes practice for both you and your dog to get used to it.  Be patient and give your dog plenty of praise, and the two of you will be experts in no time!

Disclaimer:  I am not a veterinarian. Information sources for this article are:
American Kennel Club

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