Keeping your dog feeling in tip top shape, happy and healthy, is every good dog owner’s goal. An important part of that objective is proper grooming. Far too often, even the best dog owner will neglect to tend to his/her pet’s nails. Good dog care involves learning how to trim a dog’s nails.

You do not need to take your dog to the veterinarian every time they need their nails clipped. However, you should pay close attention to how long they are. The first thing is to appreciate why they need regular clipping. Then, follow these five tips on how to trim a dog’s nails properly.

Problems with Improper Dog Nail Care

If you allow your dog’s nails to go too long before clipping, you open yourself up to a myriad of problems. The longer the nail gets, the more serious a problem it will become, so for their health it’s good to know how to trim a dog’s nails.

#1. Painful to Walk

As your dog’s nails grow beyond a normal length, pressure on the tip begins to force them backward towards their paw. This is painful. Imagine walking all day with your toes curled under, or in a pair of shoes two sizes too small.

Untrimmed nails create a similar situation for your dog. Poor nail care can cause balance problems and poor posture, which can lead to hip and back trouble. For the benefit of your dog, it’s wise to learn how to cut a dog’s nails properly.

#2. Curling

If untrimmed for too long, the nail can begin to curl. This makes them very difficult to bring back to normal. Sometimes, it can take multiple visits to the vet to correct a nail that has curled under.

#3. The Quick

The longer you let your dog’s nail grow, the quick moves further towards the tip of the nail. The quick is the end of the blood vessel inside your dog’s nail.

If you clip the nail and cut the quick, the nail will bleed profusely. If the cut is too deep, you will need to take the dog to the vet to get the bleeding stopped. To avoid injury, it’s essential to understand how to trim a dog’s nails correctly.

Therefore, the logical conclusion to all of this information about letting your dog’s nails grow too long is simple. It will create a painful situation for your dog, plus it could quickly turn into a painful situation for your wallet.

Makes a lot of sense to learn how to clip a dog’s nails properly so you and your pooch can avoid these problems altogether. Here are five tips on how to clip dog nails correctly.

How to Trim a Dog’s Nails Correctly

someone trimming a dog's nails

There are a few tips that will make trimming your dog’s nails simple. Follow these, but if you have any trepidation, or feel you’re not ready to tackle the job yourself, visit your veterinarian. Most vets appreciate a dog owner who wants to learn how to trim a dog’s nails properly. They will give them a good snip while showing you how to do it yourself.

Tip #1 – Comfortable

This applies to both you and your dog. To clip your dog’s nails without problems, you need to be able to get to the paws easily. If you’re not agile enough to get down on the floor with your dog, put down a cover sheet and help them up onto a bed. You need to be close to your dog so you can see the quick line, plus not have to struggle with the paw.

The closeness will give your dog a sense of comfort. If your dog squirms, it can cause you to miss a clip. When you miss, you stand a chance of cutting across the quick. The nail will immediately begin to bleed, but you can handle that if you follow these next four tips on how to trim a dog’s nails.

Tip #2 – Be Prepared

Make sure you have everything you need before you start to clip the nails. Number one priority is to have all the necessary things in the event you happen to make a mistake. Have a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a couple of fresh band-aids and a clean damp cloth close by.

Keep a clean, dry towel close by, plus an ice cube. Also, add one of these three items, a small bar of unscented soap, a styptic pencil, or a box of cornstarch. Since you plan to clip your dog’s nails when needed, the styptic pencil is a sound investment.

Your dog nail clippers must be sharp and NEVER use anything put clippers designed for a dog. If they are not sharp and good quality, they will tend to pinch the nail before cutting it. This will cause your dog to pull away.

Better to spend a few dollars extra for a quality set of sharp dog nail clippers, than using a tool that can hurt your pet. As you perfect your clipping technique, you may never use these items. However, better safe than sorry.

Tip #3 – Gentleness

If it’s the first time clipping your dog’s nails, be patient. Give your dog some extra loving before you start. Again, you want your dog to be calm, so they don’t jerk. You need to bring your dog to a point where they trust you to clip their nails. This may take some time and a little patience.

As you reassure your dog everything is fine, (a little belly scratch in between toes is helpful), gently spread the toes on their paw one at a time. Inspect the toe carefully. Looking from underneath, you should be able to quickly figure out where the dark spot indicates the tip of the quick. If you have any apprehension about finding that important spot, head to your veterinarian for advice.

Tip #4 – Fix the Quick?

someone holding a dog's paw on his/her hand

It’s been mentioned a few times how important it is to avoid cutting your dog’s nail back too far. This will cut off the tip of the quick and blood will pour out. Experience has shown the bloody mess can appear worse than the situation actually is, but you need to immediately address the problem. Here’s how to stop a dog’s nail from bleeding.

Even if you practice the best clipping technique and follow all instructions precisely, you still may cut the end of the quick by accident. Don’t panic; the bleeding often appears worse than it actually is. Take your clean damp cloth and dab away the blood. Look closely at the end of the nail to see how large of an opening the mistake created.

A small pinhole will close rather quickly. If the cut has a diameter equal to, or greater than half the size of the overall nail, you need to take extra steps. Clean around the nail and between the toes gently with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. This will help prevent infection.

Additional Tips on How to Heal a Bleeding Quick

Raise the nail slightly and hold the ice cube on it for a few moments. Check periodically to see if the bleeding is slowing down. Be patient; this may take some time. Try to avoid wiping the opening too much. Eventually, the tip should begin to form a clot.

Once the bloodstream slows, you can cover the tip with a band-aid once the bleeding slows. You’ll know you’ve slowed it down enough to be safe when it does nothing more than slowly producing a small bubble of blood. Fixing mistakes is part of the learning process on how to trim a dog’s nails. Be patient.

When the bleeding slows, or if it was just a small pinhole, to begin with, use your styptic pencil. Dab the cut gently. Cornstarch dabbed on the end of the nail will have a similar effect, but it is not as efficient as a styptic pencil. The best advice is to have the pencil handy beforehand, just in case.

Again, the most important thing is to avoid panicking. Your dog is going to be fine. Add some extra loving kindness and take a break from clipping. If you feel you need a little help, clean up your dog and visit your vet to finish.

Tip #5 – Love & Rewards

As you clip your dog’s nails more often, it will get easier each time. The last tip to help you and your dog is to show affection for your dog’s great effort. Give them their favorite treat and let them know how proud you are of them for behaving while you clipped their nails.

This will not only develop a sense of comfort, but you may also find your dog growing eager when it’s time for the next clipping. It’s all about making them feel relaxed.

Bottom Line

Each time you clip your dog’s nails yourself, you’ll become more confident in your ability. The fact that you need a good quality pair of nail clippers is critically important. That is the number one mistake most dog owners make, using a poor set of clippers.

Be prepared for any situation, and create a calm, comfortable setting for your dog. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to keep your dog’s nails neatly clipped from now on.

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