Trimming Dog’s Nails (Part 2 – How-to)

You’ve determined it is time to cut your dog’s nails….now what!?  First, you will need to gather the following items:

  • Nail trimmer designed for dogs (i.e. not scissors or human nail clippers)
  • Cotton balls or paper towels
  • Styptic powder or gel (in a pinch you can use cornstarch)

Note: The cotton balls and styptic gel or powder are only needed if you nick the quick (vein) and the nail bleeds.

If your dog has white nails then you can see the quick – it will be the pinkish colored part of the nail.  You want to trim the nail to just before the quick.  If your dog has black nails then you will not be able to see the quick by looking at the nail.  As a starting point you can trim the hook of the nail or the part that appears open from the underside.  Look at the trimmed nail and you should see a darker black circle.  Trim a little bit more and look at the nail again, if you see a little white dot in the center of the black circle you are close to the quick and you should stop.

Typically it is easier to trim the dogs nails if the footpad if facing toward you.  Please be gentle with your dog and do not bend or pull the legs and feet in directions that they should not be going!  Determine the point that you will trim the nail to, make sure that you have the foot steady and when you cut the nail do it in a quick motion.

If you do nick the quick and the nail starts to bleed you should apply the styptic powder or gel and hold it for anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds to stop the bleeding.  If you cannot get the bleeding to stop, take your dog to the veterinarian.