Trimming your dog’s nails


Nail trims are an important part of caring for your pet. Exercise on hard surfaces wears down the nails naturally, but most dogs can’t rely on this to keep their nails short enough. Long nails are not only damaging to some floor surfaces, they can be uncomfortable for your dog.

Problems with long nails include:

  • risk for breaking or cracking
  • deformation of the toes
  • ingrown nails
  • aggravation of arthritis in the toes in older dogs

Many clients ask me what the best tool is for trimming nails. The best tool is another person to help hold the dog. A dog has to be trained to accept nail trims. If you try this when they are young, and they squiggle away from you, it just reinforces that struggling will get them out of a trim. From the beginning, having your pet properly restrained will make nail trimming go as smooth as possible. Use a work surface (for small dogs) or the floor for larger breeds. Your pet can be standing or on its side. (See photos at the end of this post.)

How to trim a dog's nailGuidelines for nail trims:

  • Use a sharp trimming tool.
  • Remember that the paw is attached to the dog. Keep it in as natural a position as possible. If you are right handed, do the nails from the right side of the dog, holding the paw with your left hand.
  • Have good lighting.

There is no need to do all the nails at one time. In fact, doing one paw daily makes it easier on you and your pet.
Have something handy in case you cut the quick. You can purchase a styptic pencil (used for shaving nicks) or just pack the end of the nail with flour or corn starch and hold for at least 1 minute. Give a reward at the end of the session. Most dogs will need a trim every 8 – 12 weeks. Check nails regularly for length and shape to make sure they are wearing down normally.

If you can’t do your pet’s nails, then get them done by a groomer or our veterinary clinic. We will be able to provide the service for you when you register with our practice. We include a free nail trim with all our examinations, or you can just bring your pet in for a pedicure when needed. We have discounts available for patients who come in on a regular basis.

Holding the paw in the proper position

Holding the paw in the proper position

nail trimmers for dogs

Nail trimmers for dogs

restraining a large dog in down position

Restraining a large dog in down position

restraining a large dog in standing position

Restraining a large dog in standing position

restraining a small dog on a work surface

Restraining a small dog on a work surface