How to Cut Your Dog’s Nails

Yorkie getting ready to have nails trimmed

Dogs are often anxious about nail cutting, often because their owners are anxious, or they’ve had a very bad experience in the past. While a dog’s nails have to be cut for their comfort and safety, they do have nerves and blood vessels in their nails, which means it’s important to cut them properly.

Here are some quick tips to help you confidently cut your dog’s nails and make it a less stressful experience for you both.

The Basics of Nail Cutting

To start, be sure that you have sharp nail cutters with a safety guard. Having a dog styptic powder on hand is also a good idea so that if you accidentally clip the dog’s blood vessel (called the quick) you can stop the bleeding. Just in case you hit the quick having the powder handy is absolutely necessary. It will help to stop the bleeding as soon as possible. 

The next step is to hold your dog’s paw, bending it backwards gently so that you can see the bottom. Be mindful of how you hold the paw so that your pup is not uncomfortable. However, be sure they can’t slip out of your grasp either.

If your dog has white nails, you’ll be able to see the blood vessel to avoid it. Clip the nail near, but not touching, the quick. Cut on a 45-degree angle so that the top of the nail is a bit longer than the bottom.

What if My Dog Has Black Nails?

Black nails are much more challenging to cut as you can’t see the quick. You’ll need to be more cautious, but it can be done. If you inspect the underside of your dog’s nails you may feel a soft, spongy material. This covers the quick. You can cut off the nail safely up until this soft material.

If it has been some time since your dog’s nail was cut, make a smaller cut at first and return to it in a week. It’s better to be cautious with dogs with black nails so that you don’t make a mistake and so that both of you feel more confident about nail cutting.

What if My Dog Wiggles or Resists?

Not all dogs are comfortable with having their nails cut. If your dog is unhappy, start slowly and give them lots of positive reinforcement, including treats and pets. It’s better to end your nail cutting session early on a positive note, so that your dog is more willing to remain still and hopefully calmer for the next time.

Visit The Dog Market for Nail Cutting

English Bulldog getting his nails trimmed

If you, or your dog, still aren’t comfortable with nail cutting, you can have the professionals at The Dog Market take care of it for you. We will ensure that your dog has a positive experience and has their nails trimmed properly. We can even work with you to help your dog get used to having his or her nails cut, so that you can start doing it at home. The best part is nail clipping is a walk in service 7 days per week and only $10. We also, trim cat’s nails as well, however for cat’s it is best to call ahead to ensure our cat groomer is available.