A guide to clipping your dog's nails
A quick and easy guide to clipping your dog’s nails, including why it’s important to trim them regularly and recommended products.
Keeping your dog’s nails short with regular clipping is really important. Not only does it keep them clean and healthy, it also prevents accidents and ensures that the nail’s quick is kept in decline. The quick is at the centre of the nail and it is where all the blood vessels and nerves are.
When you allow your dog’s nails to grow too long the quick can grow longer too, and this makes it harder for you to get your dog’s nails short again. This is because you can’t cut into the quick. If you do it will bleed and likely hurt your dog.
Clipping your dog’s nails at home can be intimidating, but we have a step-by-step guide to make it a little easier. It's worth saying though, that if you are in any way not comfortable or confident in trimming your dog's nails then it's worth seeking the help of a professional groomer.
What to do when clipping your dog’s nails
- Clean your dog’s paws first - If you accidentally cut into the quick of the nail and it bleeds, a clean paw will mean that dirt is less likely to get in and cause infection.
- Make sure your dog is relaxed - If you can get your dog to lie on their side, it will make it easier to access their paws. You might need someone to help calm and hold your dog down gently while you clip.
- Use dog-specific nail clippers - Make sure they are clean and that the blade is sharp.
- Hold the paw firmly yet gently and flex the pads slightly - This will help you to see the claws better. If your dog is too stressed, don't force them. Have a break and try again later.
- Start by clipping off the tips of the nails - This will give you and your dog some confidence and avoid you accidentally cutting into the quick and scaring your dog.
- Check where the quick ends before trimming off any more - Remember if your dog’s nails are longer, then the quick could be longer too. You can sometimes shine a light through the nail to help make the quick more visible. If your dog has black nails you probably won’t be able to see it at all.
- Don’t forget about the dew claw - It is often longer because it gets no contact with the ground.
What not to do when clipping your dog’s nails
- If your dog’s nails are very long, don’t be tempted to cut into the quick to get them short faster. Trimming a small amount close around the quick more regularly will help the quick to recede naturally, although this may take some time.
- Don’t hold your dog down if they are visibly distressed, as this can make the experience traumatising, and you may not be able to clip their nails in the future.
- Don’t leave it too long to trim your dog’s nails. The longer you leave it the longer the quick could grow too, and then you will have difficulty getting your dog’s nails short again.
When to see a vet
If you accidentally cut into the quick when trimming your dog’s nails you might be alarmed at the amount of blood there is. Don’t panic! Immediately compress the wound with a clean cloth or tissue for at least two minutes. You can also use styptic powder to stem the bleeding.
There are a number of reasons that you might not be able to trim your own dog’s nails at home.
- Your dog won’t tolerate it.
- Your dog’s nails have been allowed to grow too long.
- Your dog has dark nails and you aren’t confident about where the quick is.
- You are just too worried about doing it wrong.
In these cases you can either take your dog to the dog groomer or your vet, and they will do it for you. In the case that your dog’s nails are infected or damaged we recommend you take them to be treated by your vet.
Groomers Small nail clipper - Millers Forge - These veterinary-standard small steel nail clippers are perfect for your small dog, puppy or cat. They feature a safety lock, comfortably-shaped plastic handle, and they are 13 cm long.
Millers Forge High Quality Large Nail Clipper - If you have a medium to large sized dog, go for these heavy duty clippers with high quality German stainless steel blades for a smooth and precise cut in one action. They feature a safety lock, and handles designed for comfort and control. They are 16.5cm long.