Everyone probably knows that if you cut a dog’s nails too far back, you can cause bleeding. Once you learn how to spot the quick, you’ll be fine – and cutting your dog’s nails is important, so here we go.
Below, I’ll teach you how to cut your dog’s nails and what tools and methods you can use to do it right.
Cutting Your Dog’s Nails: The Tools
When cutting your dog’s nails, your comfort and confidence in the tool matters. Choose a style from the ones below, and when you buy, make sure it’s the right size for your hand.
- Scissor-style: Easy to fit around the nail, even on smaller paws.
- Guillotine-style: Same cutting principle as scissors. Not as easy to use with tiny paws or impatient dogs who move their paws.
- Grinders: This is a professional’s tool that quickly sands the nail down. If it hits the quick it cauterizes the wound, but they can be dangerous – not good tools for beginners.
- Quickfinders: These will detect the quick for you and tell you where it’s safe to cut.
- Clotting products: Every dog owner should keep a small supply of Clotisol or some other clotting product, in case they accidentally cut the quick. The quick is a blood vessel and it will bleed a lot if cut, and these products quickly stop the bleeding.
Cutting Your Dog’s Nails: Why It’s Important
The best situation, is when your dog’s nails don’t touch the ground when he walks. If allowed to grow while touching the ground, the tips of the nails will wear down and break, and can even grow into the pad of the paw.
Jagged, frayed nails can get snagged and accidentally be ripped out. Nails growing into the pads can cause injuries and infections. The more active your dog, and the more time he spends walking on hard stony surfaces, the faster his nails can become a problem.
Guide to Cutting Your Dog’s Nails
Get you puppy used to this at a young age if possible – the best time to start cutting your dog’s nails, regardless of age, is as soon as you bring him home. While he’s getting used to nail care, cut only one or two nails per sitting. It also helps if a friend of the dog will sit with you and keep him distracted and still.
Some other tips on cutting your dog’s nails:
- If you’re new at clipping your dog’s nails, then nip small slices and watch the exposed inner nail for a pink middle; that pink middle is the quick, a blood vessel. Don’t cut that!
- Have a treat ready for giving after each nail is cut.
- Hold the clippers in one hand, and hold the paw in the other.
- Sometimes cutting your dog’s nails is much easier when the dog is up on a table. Make sure it’s sturdy, and consider having an extra person stand in front of or beside the dog to keep him still.
Aside from treats, you can give praise after each cut. This will help a new dog, or a dog who’s not used to having his nails cut, get used to grooming.
If you cut the quick, here’s what you do. If you don’t already have Clotisol or some other product on hand for stopping the blood, find some flour or corn starch, put it in a bowl, submerge your dog’s paw in the flour or corn starch, and wait. About 15 minutes after the bleeding stops, gently wash off the corn starch/flour with lukewarm water.
Schedule for Cutting Your Dog’s Nails
At most, you should wait 2-3 weeks between cutting your dog’s nails. Once per week is best. If nails are getting frayed between trimmings, you can file them down a bit before trimming.
Other Tips for Cutting Your Dog’s Nails
- Each nail has a different length of quick. Learn each nail, and watch what you’re doing.
- Don’t forget to cut the dew claws. These claws can easily become ingrown. Some breeds have them on only the front or back feet, some breeds don’t have dew claws at all.
- You only need to cut enough that the nail isn’t touching the ground.
- Your dog will get used to having his nails cut more quickly, if you do it more often.
- Remember to praise or reward your dog for allowing you to cut each nail.
If you’re still unsure you can cut your dog’s nails safely, go to your vet and ask to be taught how, or have someone more experienced give you hands-on instruction. Since you can see the quick when you cut your dog’s nails carefully, you’ll be handling this grooming step like a pro in no time.
Return to dog training instructions, or continue reading about grooming your dog.