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May 05, 2021 3 min read

We’ve all been there. Your dog’s nails have gotten too long and it’s time for a trim. After all, you don’t want your pup scratching himself too hard, clawing up your beloved couch, or hurting you! Clipping your dog’s nails can instill stress in you and your dog. Take a deep breath, relax, and read on. We’ve got a guide on how to cut your dog’s nails painlessly.

How do you know when it’s time for a trim?

There is no golden rule. It depends on your dog’s breed and activity levels. Some dogs’ nails naturally wear down from running on hard surfaces so they can go longer between trimmings. Most dogs need to get their nails clipped on a range of once a week to once a month.

What are the best dog nail clippers to use?

There are several types of dog nail clippers to choose from. You can experiment with what works best for you and your pup.

  • Scissor clippers are best for large dogs
  • Guillotine clippers are best for smaller or medium-sized dogs
  • Grinder tools are an alternative to traditional clipping tools; they grind down the nail and are best for larger dogs or skittish dogs who get spooked by regular clippers

No matter what tool you choose, take some time to ensure that your dog doesn’t associate it with a fearful or stressful experience. Allow your dog to sniff the clipper or grinder and get familiar with it. If you’re using clippers, help your dog get used to the noise by clipping it by him and praising him when he stays calm.

How to cut your dog’s nails painlessly

If you’re a new dog owner, have a vet or dog groomer show you their technique. This will help you learn how to use the nail clippers and see how short to trim the nails.

Ready to go for it on your own? Here’s a step-by-step walk through.

  1. Make sure to choose a time when your dog is calm. After a nap or a meal often works well.
  2. Make it a pleasant experience. Your dog can sense when you’re stressed, so be sure to use a gentle touch and a calm voice. If he gets worked up, take a break. You don’t have to clip all the nails at once.
  3. Hold the paw gently but firmly so you don’t accidentally trim too short or miss the nail.
  4. Cut the tip of the nail only. Don’t go too far or else you’ll go into the “quick,” which is the pink or dark part of the nail. This is where blood vessels are, so trimming too short will cause bleeding and pain. When you’re clipping the nail, it should be easy and brittle. If it feels spongy and soft, don’t clip—that’s the quick. Clotting powder can help stop bleeding if you do accidentally clip too far.
  5. Don’t forget the dewclaws, which are the thumb-like nails on the side of the paw. These don’t tend to wear down as easily as other nails, so they can grow longer more quickly.
  6. The proper dog nail length is when the nail doesn’t reach the ground when standing. When your dog walks on wood floors and you hear that familiar clicking noise, it’s time for a trim.
  7. When you’re done, be sure to treat your dog to something special. Give him his favorite treat and a well-deserved belly rub. Bully sticks or ear treats are the perfect ending to a positive nail-clipping experience.

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