Trimming Dogs Nails


  • Dog's nails grow continuously like ours and if they aren't worn down (by exercising on hard surfaces) or trimmed they can over grow.
  • You should check them regularly - every month, more frequently in some animals.
  • If they get too long they can split, get caught and tear, grow into the pad (which can cause infections) or even lead to deformed joints/feet.
  • If their nails are causing them a problem your pet might start licking or chewing at them. If you notice this, take them straight to your vet before trying to trim their nails yourself.
  • Regular nail trimming isn't needed for every dog, especially if they get plenty of exercise on hard surfaces such a roads. But do keep an eye on their dew claws (their 'thumbs') as these don't contact the ground when walking, so commonly overgrow and can then be prone to catching and tearing.


How to tell if their nails are too long
  • The nails shouldn't protrude far over the pad, so when they are stood upright there should be a small gap between the end of the nail and the floor.
  • OR hold their paw flat on the palm of your hand, if the nails touch your hand they might be slightly too long.
  • Also, you shouldn't be able to hear them clicking as your dog walks on a hard floor.


What you need
  • Correct sized nail clippers that are sharp and in good working order.
  • Plenty of treats to give as rewards.
  • A styptic pen (or corn flour or a bar of soap) to help stop bleeding if you accidently cut the quick.
  • If possible, an extra pair of hands to help keep your pet calm and still.
Dog nail trimming - before you start
  • Ideally, before you try and trim their nails for the first time, get your pet used to the nails clippers and having their paws touched. It may be that you have to do one nail a day until they get used to it and remember to use lots of rewards (praise and treats) to make it a positive experience. Stop if they look uncomfortable or stressed.
  • Make sure your pet is relaxed and comfortable in an area with no distractions.
  • Get someone to help you safely restrain your pet.
  • Take care if your pet has painful joints (e.g. due to arthritis) it may be more comfortable for them to lie on their side.
  • The quick is the area of the nail with a rich blood and nerve supply. If you cut it it will be painful for your pet and can bleed quite heavily.
  • If your pet has white nails you will be able to see the quick through the nail.
  • If your pet has dark nails you won't be able to see the quick, so will have to trim them back bit by bit.
Dog nail trimming - step by step
Where to trim a dog's nails
  • With the nail clippers positioned at a 45 degree angle carefully trim your pet's nails back, stopping 3-4 millimeters in front of the quick.
  • With black nails, when you can't see the quick, start by cutting just the tip off. You should see white inside - take off a small amount at a time, gradually shortening the nail. Once you see a black dot appear in the centre you are close to the quick so stop.
  • Ideally the nails should be inline with the pad, but if nails have been allowed to grow too long the quick can grow with it. In this case frequent trimming can help the quick recede back to its normal length and slowly you should be able to get the nail to the length it should be.
  • Start with their back feet as these are often less sensitive (and normally not as long) then move onto the front paws and don't forget their dew claws!
  • If you are not confident with nail clippers, or your dog is very nervous, get a professional to cut your pet's nails.
  • Reward your pet with praise or treats throughout to encourage them to keep still for you and make it a positive experience.
IF YOU accidentally CUT THE QUICK
If you do accidently cut the quick, apply pressure with gauze swabs (from your kit) or kitchen roll and touch the styptic stick in your kit to the exposed quick to stop bleeding. If you don't have this try coating the area in cornflour or dipping the nail into a bar of soap. If the bleeding won't stop after 5 minutes apply a bandage and go to your vets.