• How to Safely Trim a Dog’s Nails

  • How to Safely Trim a Dog’s Nails
  • By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 2, 2016

  • Dr. Greenway demonstrates how to safely trim a dog’s nails and goes over the anatomy of the nail as well as techniques to try to make it more manageable for you and your pet. Topics covered in this video include nail clippers, aggressive, injury, not clipping the quick, slowly introducing treats and praise, groomers, nail trimming and paws.


    I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com and this is Trudy. We’re going to talk about how to trim your dog’s nails. The first thing I want to mention is you want to do this very slowly, think about just trying to trim one nail once and then stopping and then go back to it the next day and trim another nail. Make sure that every time you do this you praise them a lot and give them treats so that it’s a pleasant experience. If you try to do too much too fast, it can scare the dog and they’ll remember it so future events will be a lot more traumatic for them and difficult to perform.

    One thing about Trudy is that she has black nails and this can make it really difficult. When a dog has clear nails you can see the pink quick inside the nail that you don’t want to cut. Once you cut into the quick that’s when the nail is going to bleed and it’s going to be extremely painful when that happens.

    So what you want to do is you want to trim a tiny amount of the nail off at a time. You want to look at the fresh-cut cross-section of the nail and you’ll see that inside the black nail it will look generally white. As you get closer to the quick, a small black dot will start to appear in the center of that white area of the nail inside. That means that the quick is very close and you’re going to want to stop trimming the nail at that point. So when you trim the nails, you’re going to want to make sure that your dog is accepting of it. I don’t want you to put yourself at risk and keep in mind that you don’t often interact with your dog in this way and it may make them upset or they may tend to bite you when they wouldn’t in other circumstances. If your dog becomes aggressive towards you, I want you to stop, I want you to consider having someone else do the nail trims for you.

    When we pick up Trudy’s leg, she’s going to naturally want to pull it back into her body and that’s why I’m holding it very close to her. If I pull it away from her, she’s going to start paying attention to it and try to pull it back and fight me. I can expose the nail better by squeezing the paw and lifting up one of the digits from underneath. Then I take my nail trimmers, I put them just at the edge of the nail and I trim just a little bit off at a time, always looking at the fresh cut portion of it to look for that little black dot that tells me when to stop.

    If you’re having a lot of difficulty with this, I want you to talk to your vet about things that you can give your dog that may reduce it’s anxiety or potentially sedate it in order to get a nail trim performed. Keep in mind that it’s really stressful, so even giving a little bit of sedation is a healthy thing to do in those circumstances. If you learn to do this you’ll really be able to cut down on your vet bills and they won’t have to have scary visits to get their nails done.

    If you’re trying this for the first time, you could end up cutting the quick, it would be very painful, the dog will probably remember it for the rest of its life and the nail will also bleed. There are products you can buy that will make the nail stop bleeding quickly and coagulate that blood because when nails are cut too deep, they’ll tend to bleed for quite a while.

    Remember to start as early as possible, be as slow as possible, and always reward and praise them afterwards and you’ll have good success with it in the future. You can learn more here at healthcareforpets.com.

    How to Safely Trim a Dog's Nails
    How to Safely Trim a Dog's Nails

    Dr. Greenway demonstrates how to safely trim a dog's nails including techniques to try to make it more manageable for you and your pet.

    Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.

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