Dog nail trimming is more than just cosmetic. Left untended, the nails will grow too long. In extreme cases, they will even curl under and cut into the toe pad. Besides being very painful, this can also lead to infection.

Complications to Overgrown Nails
Other possible complications to overgrown nails (all of which are painful for your dog) include:

  • Nails cracking or breaking off.
  • Nails catching on something and being torn.
  • Damage to the nail bed from nails hitting the pavement and being pushed upward.
  • Because dogs walk on their toes, their gait can be adversely affected.
 Not to mention the wear and tear on your furniture, carpet and wood flooring! 

How Often Do Dog Nails Need To Be Trimmed?

Generally, nails should be trimmed every 3-4 weeks. But this can vary a LOT because every breed of dog is different. Some smaller “indoor” dogs need nail trimming every couple of weeks.

Dogs that walk frequently on paved roads or sidewalks require less dog nail trimming than dogs that spend most of their lives indoors.

The general rule of thumb is – if you can hear dog nails clicking on the tile, it’s time to trim. When your dog is standing, the nails should not be touching the floor.

Dog Nail Clippers Dog Nail Anatomy

Introducing Your Puppy to Dog Nail Trimming

You should begin introducing your puppy to dog nail clippers right away.

Introduce puppy to paw handling

Praise him, pet him and tell him he’s a good dog as you examine his feet. Do this frequently, until he’s comfortable with having you handle his feet.

If he’s very fussy about his feet, you could even offer him treats as an incentive for cooperation.

Introduce puppy to the dog nail clipper

Just let him see it … sniff it, become familiar with it. Once he sees that it’s not going to “bite”, you can begin touching it to his feet as you brush him and inspect his feet. Praise him for cooperation.

Now you should be ready for the next step … trimming dog nails.

Have Ready the Following Items:

  • Dog Nail Clipper
  • Dog Nail File or Dog Nail Grinder
  • Styptic Powder
  • Dog Treats

Find a Comfortable Position for Dog Nail Trimming

You may prefer:

  • Sitting on the floor with your dog laying on his side next to you.
  • Having your dog stand, sit or lay down on a grooming table.

The important thing is that both you and the dog are comfortable and relaxed. Make sure it’s a location with good lighting, especially if you’re clipping black nails.

If you know your dog is particularly nervous about dog nail trimming, it’s a good idea to have another person available to help hold the dog steady while you trim.

Trimming Nails on Small Dogs

In this video clip by Carla Johnson you can see how to handle dog nail trimming on a small dog that is nervous about a pedicure.

With black nails it helps if you can see the underside of the nail easily (as in this demonstration), to locate the dark center of the nail – where the quick is.

SpokesPoodle LaceyPoodle Grooming Tip When it comes to dog nail trimming, some dogs are unco-operative until they know “what’s in it for me”. Try offering a treat after each paw is done if it doesn’t disrupt the process.

Trimming White Nails

This video by YouTube Channel “loveofeathers” demonstrates trimming dog nails that are white or light-colored (you’re able to see the quick through the nail).

It’s quite easy to see exactly where you need to trim – just beyond where the nail turns white and curves downward.

As you trim you can first see the white pulpy center and as you continue trimming you come to a pink center. It looks more gummy, like the inside of a jelly bean. Stop there. You have reached the quick. If you continue to cut shorter, it will bleed.

Trimming Black Nails

Next we have a video demonstration by YouTube’s DuAnn Chambers. It details trimming dog nails that are black. It works best for me to snip off a small slice at a time and look at the cross section.

If it still looks white on the inside I continue to cut a tiny bit at a time until it begins to look black in the center (and gummy like the inside of a jelly bean). Stop there. You’ve reached the quick.

Stop Dog Nails From Bleeding With Styptic Powder

If you do happen to cut into the quick, don’t panic. Even professional dog groomers experience it from time to time.

Just pack a little Styptic Powder into the end of the nail (either dip your dogs nail into the powder or apply with a moistened cotton tip applicator) and apply pressure for a moment until the bleeding stops.

Wash your hands after application.

Filing – Smoothing Edges of Dog Nails

Dog Nail Trimming - Nail GrinderFor a finishing touch, smooth the edges with a Dog Nail File or Dog Nail Grinder as demonstrated in the video for black nail trimming.

This will prevent snagging on furniture, carpeting or clothing.

Recommended Products

Just as a reminder … the quick continues to grow along with the nail. If you allow your dog’s nails to become overgrown, the quick will also have grown out too far. You will not be able to trim the nails all the way back to where they belong at once.

Trim back to where you can see the pink center (for white nails) or black center (for black nails) and then wait until the quick recedes. You’ll probably have to trim nails every week for a few weeks to get back on track.

That’s it! Armed with the proper tools and new information, you should now feel a LOT more confident about Dog Nail Trimming!

Dog Nail Anatomy

A dog can express more with his tail in minutes than an owner can express with his tongue in hours.Karen Davison