Dog Nail Care: Step-by-step guide

Dog Nail Care: Step-by-step guide to caring for and trimming your dog’s nails

The grooming job most dog owners dislike is nail clipping. Many are afraid of hurting the dog and this is a legitimate concern because cutting into the quick can cause extensive bleeding. If trimming your dog nails is something you are really worried about then a professional groomer can do the job for you. But there really is no reason to be afraid, because dog nail care is a fairly straight-forward process when you know how.

dog nail care

dog nail care

Dog Nail Care: The Quick

The biggest fear of pet-owners when trimming nails is cutting into the quick. This is a blood vessel running through the nails of dogs and cats. In white colored nails, it is clearly visible. Cutting into the quick and cause a nail to bleed extensively, so always have a commercial coagulant at hand to stop bleeding should you accidentally cut the quick.

Dog Nail Care: Dew Claws

Dogs sometimes have a 5th nail called a dew claw. This is situated on the back of the leg close to the pad. These nails do not make contact with the ground so are not worn down by friction, and have to be cut. If left untrimmed dew claws grow into a full circle and can even become ingrown and require veterinary care.

Dew claws are normally found on the forelegs but can be on the back paws as well. It is fairly common for dogs to have dew claws on some feet, and not on others.

Dog Nail Care: What you’ll need

  • Guillotine-type nail clippers (for large and medium dogs)
  • Scissor-type nail clippers (for small dogs)
  • Blood-clotting agent (stops nail bleeding if you accidentally cut into the quick)
  • Emery board type nail file (for small and medium dogs)
  • Rasp-type file (for large dogs)
  • Nail polish or nail caps (optional)

Dog Nail Care: Nail Trimming Method

  1. To trim the front nails make sure the dog is sitting. Calm the dog and ensure that he cannot move while his nails are being trimmed. For back paws, it is preferable for the dog to be standing. Have someone assist with restraining the dog if necessary.
  2. Lift the paw and insert the nail into the clipper. Clip before the quick at a 45-degree angle. Repeat for all nails including dew claws.
  3. On dogs with white nails the quick is clearly visible, but if the dog has black nails it is advisable to make several small clips instead of cutting the nail in one go.
  4. After each cut examines the nail head on. You should see a dark spot in the center of the nail. This is quick you’ll want to avoid cutting.
  5. If you accidentally cut the quick you must stem the bleeding immediately using a commercial blood-clotting powder. Apply the powder and place moderate pressure on the nail. This normally stops the bleeding very quickly.
  6. If a dew claw is present and has grown into a circular loop, cut into the mid-section of the nail using a scissor-type cutter and being careful to avoid the quick. Then trim the nail back to just before the quick.
  7. Once the nail trimming is complete, file each nail to remove any rough edges.

And there you have it. A fairly simple process, but one that intimidates many dog owners. It needn’t, once you’re used to it, dog nail care is simple.