dogs nail clippers

How to Properly Cut Your Dog’s Nails

Dog owners find cutting their dog’s nails a difficult and possibly traumatic experience for both. If they did something wrong, they might make their dog forever scared of the procedure. Normally, dogs would not need it if they get enough exercise the whole day, and running on different surfaces will keep the nails short. However, many pooches living in the city may not get enough, so long toes are normal.

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What Are The Consequences Of Long Toenails?

For your pet, having long toenails will lead to painful feet. When these nails touch a hard surface like the sidewalk, it will cause the nail to push back into the nail bed. It will then cause pressure on the joints of the toe or make it twist to the side. Eventually, the toes are sore or worse, arthritic. You would notice this as your dog will be fussy whenever you touch its paw.

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nails clipping dog

There are worse consequences of long nails. Animals like your pooch will feel gravity through their feet. The nails on the feet give them information about where they are as well.

For millions of years, dogs have moved enough to keep nails short and the toenails will only touch the floor when climbing a hill. So whenever they feel the nails touching the ground, they will interpret that as being on a hill and will change their posture. This posture will put enough pressure on the muscles and joints, specifically on the back legs. Surprisingly, when you cut your dog’s nails it will relieve pressure on a painful back leg.

What You Need to Cut Your Dog’s Nails

When you want to cut your pet’s nails, you will need a nail clipper. There are quite a few types out there, depending on how big your dog is. A guillotine-style clipper is the simplest to use and are perfect for small breeds. On the other hand, pliers-style are better for bigger pooches. Lastly, there are also scissors-type nail clippers.

It is best to have some treats with you so that your dog will be quieter and will not move. Give your pet one after every nail, so it also gets a positive connection to nail cutting.

Just in case you cut the nail too short and you see some bleeding, you should have some styptic powder or clotting powder. You may also use baking soda or cornstarch for the same purpose.

Using Dog Nail Clippers

If it is your first time, you should take the time to study how to use it before actually cutting your pet’s nails. You can ask a dog groomer to show you how to do it or watch him do it before trying it out yourself.

When you are ready, make sure to test the clippers first to see if the blades work well. Try out how to grip the clippers and practice holding your dog’s paws and separating its toes.

how to cut dog's nails properly

A good trick is to get your pooch used to seeing the nail clippers without actually cutting the nails. You can try putting the clippers close to the paws and nails. When it does not flinch, praise it and give it a treat. Do this about 10 times. The next day, do the same but squeeze the clippers to make your pet used to the sound. Do not forget to praise your dog and give it a treat. This way, when you finally do cut the nails, it will not be something new and scary.

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Clipping Your Dog’s Nails

In the beginning, it is normal that your dog will be nervous. If so, aim to just cut a few at first and do the others another day.

Hold your pet’s paw firmly but also gently. Gently cut the nail at a 45-degree angle, removing little pieces at a time. Make sure that you cut only until you can see something white inside the nail and a small black dot in the middle. In order to avoid cutting too much, make sure you only trim a little at a time. Should you accidentally cut too much, use the clotting powder to stop any bleeding.

Depending on your dog’s breed, you should cut your pet’s nails between one time a week to only one time a month. Moreover, if your pet is quite active, you might notice that the toenails are not as long, and maybe you will not even need to cut as often.

With a bit of practice, you can be an expert in cutting your dog’s toenails. By then, you know there is no need to stress about it at all.

You may also like our article on: 5 Ways to Stop Your Dog’s Nail From Bleeding


  1. Teresa Manucy, DVM, How to Cut Your Dog’s Nails Safely, PetMD
  2. Trimming Your Dog’s Nails, Vetstreet
  3. How to Groom a Dog, The American Kennel Club

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