How to Trim Your Dog's Nails


Article by Kate Baxendale

Photography by Stock Images + Provided

Keeping your dog's toenails trimmed is an essential part of canine health and grooming. However, the process can give dogs—and their owners—a lot of anxiety. Here are some tips to guide you through trimming your dog's nails.

Introduction to Nail Trimming

Before you start actually trimming your dog's nails, it's important to get your dog accustomed to the process. Start by gently handling your dog's paws, letting him sniff the nail trimmers and offering lots of happy praise and treats. Over the course of the week, slowly start introducing the nail trimmers to your dog one day at a time.

READ MORE: How to Trim Your Dog's Nails Safely


The American Kennel Club recommends either ConairPRO Dog Nail Clippers or ConairPRO Professional Dog Nail Grinder. It is also wise to have styptic powder on hand in case you trim a nail too short.

Dogs Naturally Magazine recommends using clippers to cut the nails then a grinder to smooth them out.

How to Trim Your Dog's Nails

  1. Pick up a paw and firmly, but gently, place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way.
  2. Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail.
  3. Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Include the dewclaws, located on the inner side of the paw.
  4. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting what is called the quick (the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels). A nick there is painful and will bleed. For dogs with dark nails, watch for a chalky white ring.

How to Grind Your Dog's Nails

  1. Grind your dog’s nails using a safe tool, such as the ConairPRO Dog and Cat Professional Corded Nail Grinder
  2. Only grind a small part of your dog’s nail at a time. Support the dog’s toe firmly but gently.
  3. Grind across the bottom of the nail and then carefully in from the tip of the nail, smoothing rough edges.

Tips + Tricks

  • Some dogs will require a distraction while you are tending to their nails. Offer them some peanut butter on a spoon to lick while you are working. Other dogs may require a form of restraint.
  • Keep clipper blades almost parallel to the nail.
  • For maintenance, trim nails every two weeks. To shorten, trim them every week.

READ MORE: A Stress-Free Way for Trimming Your Dog's Toenails

Why Trimming/Grinding Your Dog's Nails is Important

Keeping your dog's nails at a reasonable length is more than cosmetic. Regular nail trimmings will cause the quick—the inner part of the dog's nails that contains blood vessels and nerves—to recede, making it easier to safely trim the nails. Long nails can cause pain as they hit the ground, putting pressure on the dog's feet and legs. This can even turn into a splayed foot with reduced traction, foot deformities or injured tendons over time.

By following the steps above, you can avoid any further problems with your dog's nails and keep them happy and healthy.

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