At-Home Pet Grooming: The Best Way to Trim Dog Nails Safely

Not all dogs react well to having their nails trimmed, which in turn can make their owners reluctant to handle the task themselves or make an appointment with their local vet for grooming services. No dog owner enjoys seeing their beloved pet made anxious or scared. Nail trimming, however, is an important aspect of keeping your dog comfortable, safe, and healthy.

Overgrown toenails are bad news for your pooch. Long nails can lead to permanent nerve, bone, posture, and joint issues. The chances of breakage are also higher and this can cause infection. 

Regular nail trimming is vital for your dog’s health. Noah’s Ark is well-equipped to handle nervous and sensitive dogs, and our team members are trained to trim the nails as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Getting your dog’s nails trimmed by a professional is always your best bet. Dogs have blood vessels and nerves in their nails, and cutting too deeply can be both painful and bloody, which can be traumatic for you and your dog if not handled correctly. That said, we know some people prefer to perform this task on their own. We want to help you help your dog, so here’s a checklist for safely trimming their nails.


1. Gather your tools: clippers, treats, nail file, and styptic/clotting powder. There are several types of dog nail clippers on the market: guillotine, scissors, and pliers. The guillotine style is easiest to use, but really only works for small breeds. The pliers type are generally better for large breeds.

If you cut the nail too short, styptic powder will help stop the bleeding. If you can’t find any, cornstarch can also work.

2. Choose the time. Pick a time when your dog will be relaxed, such as after a meal or playtime. You might also want to have some treats on hand. Dogs are very sensitive about their paws, so giving them treats whenever you trim their nails can keep it a positive experience.

3. Get them comfortable with you touching their feet. For a few days leading up to the nail trim, try gently rubbing your dog’s legs and paws for a few minutes per day. Establishing touch trust can help to make the trimming go more smoothly.

4. Keep them calm. The whole time you are trimming their nails, speak to them in a calm and quiet voice. Reassure them, comfort them, make sure the trim feels emotionally positive.


Note: It is always a good idea to have a vet tech or veterinarian show you how to trim your dog’s nails before you attempt it on your own.

1. Identify the quick. Dog nails have a part called the “quick,” which contains a blood vessel and a nerve. If your dog has clear or light-colored nails, the quick is easy to spot: it looks like a small pink tube running inside the nail. If your dog has black or dark-colored nails, ask your local vet for help identifying the quick. Cutting the quick is painful and will cause bleeding.

2. Firmly but gently grasp the foot. Grasp it in the palm of your hand, using your thumb to hold it in place along the top of the foot. Avoid putting your fingers between your dog’s toes—they are ticklish!

3. Lay your dog on their side for the back feet. The front feet can be trimmed from a regular lying down position, but for back feet it’s easiest to have your dog on their side. You can use your body to gently restrain them.

4. Tip the nails. Do not just cut off chunks of your dog’s toenail. If you’re unsure, it’s best to go slowly. Hold the toe being trimmed and cut only a thin shaving from the very tip of the nail, then keep removing thin shavings until you’re satisfied with the length or you are about to hit the quick.!

5. Accidents happen. If you do hit the quick, stay calm. Comfort your dog with calm words, give them a treat right away, and apply the styptic powder to the bleeding nail. If the bleeding continues for more than 5-7 minutes, call your vet just to be sure everything’s okay.

6. File the nails. Newly trimmed nails are rough around the edges. If you want to smooth them out, you can use a nail file, just like you would for your own nails.

If your dog still gets very scared, angry, or aggressive when you try to trim their nails, call your vet. Forcing at-home nail trimming on a frightened dog can just make them more unwilling. A vet tech or veterinarian will be able to trim their nails without hurting them.

If you want help before you begin trimming your dog’s nails at home, contact us to set up an appointment. Our experienced team can show you the correct techniques and give expert advice.

2017-12-20T10:22:49+00:00 October 25th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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