How To Trim Dog Nails That Are Overgrown At Home Safely

How To Trim Dog Nails That Are Overgrown At Home Safely
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Dogs’ nails should be cut regularly as part of their grooming regimen to keep their paws healthy and avoid pain and injury. For most puppy parents, learning how to trim dog nails can be challenging if their dog is jittery or anxious. In this article from the Canvas Personalized, we will provide you with some simple tips and a step-by-step to cutting a dog’s overgrown nails.

The Importance Of Dog Nail Trimming

How To Trim Dog Nails
Why Is It Important To Trim Dog Nails? – Copyrighted by Small Door Veterinary

Overgrown dog nails can cause pain and cause issues with their spine and posture, such as sitting or standing strangely. Moreover, if you ignore long nails, your dog can find walking difficult or become disabled. In general, your dog’s mobility and daily life may be restricted by lengthy nails.

To be a responsible pet owner, beyond mastering the desirable dog care tips, daily nail cutting can help your dog avoid the mobility and arthritic problems in the future.

How To Know When To Trim Dog Nails

How To Cut A Dog'S Nails
How To Know When To Trim Dog Nails – Copyrighted by Tractive

You can start to check your dog’s nails while standing in front of you with the front legs beneath the shoulders. If nails are touching the ground, they are excessively long, so it’s time to trim. Moreover, you can hear your dog’s nails clicking or notice them walking on concrete or other hard surfaces. In the case of dogs with white nails, you can see if the nails are longer than the quick.

How Often To Trim Overgrown Dog Nails?

One monthly nail trim for your dog is a good rule of thumb. Although it should be done as frequently as necessary, the average dog who spends most of its time indoors or on grass may need dog nail trimming every two weeks, whereas dogs who run or frequently stroll on concrete may require nail trimming less regularly.

The interval between nail trimmings is influenced by how quickly your dog’s nails grow and wear down. Moreover, it would be best if you considered the factors below when learning how to trim dog nails:

  • Genetic influences
  • Breed-specific feeding schedule
  • The activity level of your dog

1. Learning How To Trim Dog Nails Process

Dog Nail Trimming Requirement And Tools

Before starting to learn how to cut a dog’s nails, you should have the following items on hand, just some practical items will do the trick:

  • Your dog’s favorite treats or clicker
  • Nail grinders or nail clippers
  • Styptic powder or cornstarch
  • Flashlight (for black nails)
  • Patience and calm nerves are key!

If it’s the first time you learn how to clip dog nails, make sure you choose the proper tool for dog nail trimming:

  • Guillotine-style clippers: the nail is inserted via a hole in guillotine-style clippers. Although more difficult to use, this tool retains its sharpness for a longer period of time.
How To Trim Dog Nails
Guillotine-style clippers
  • Scissor-style clippers: this one has divots at the ends of each blade, which is ideal for pups and small dogs.
How To Cut A Dog'S Nails
Scissor-style clippers
  • Pliers-style clippers: This kind of clipper is similar to scissors-style clippers but is stronger and better for thick, huge nails since it features a spring.
How To Clip Dog Nails
Pliers-style clippers
  • Nail grinders: This one is typically used to file your dog’s nails smoothly while also making it simpler to avoid hitting the quick.
How To Trim Dog Nails With Nail Grinders
How To Trim Dog Nails With Nail Grinders – Copyrighted by Rover

When everything is prepared, use additional cuddles or treats to soothe your dog and make it feel more secure as you start cutting its nails.

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails: A Step-by-step

Step 1: Getting Your Dog Comfortable

Most dogs don’t like having their nails trimmed in the first few weeks. Or even if this is your first time, you may find it challenging and complex to learn how to trim dog nails. So please don’t give up because it takes time for you and your dog to adjust. Remember that you need to use only secure, canine-friendly clippers or grinders.

How To Trim Dog Nails
How To Clip Dog Nails With Getting Your Dog Comfortable With Clipper – Copyrighted by Golden Retriever Life

It helps if you softly and enthusiastically grip and touch your puppy’s paws frequently from the start so they don’t feel any risks from your action. Let’s begin with these simple tips on how to clip dog nails:

  • Let your dog sniff the grinder or nail clipper. Then, treat it and compliment it.
  • Get your dog used to the sound and vibration of the nail grinder or clipper, gently rub each paw with the nail trimmer tools, then give it a treat.
  • Gently reapply the grinder or nail clipper to your puppy’s feet, then try removing just the slightest portion of one front paw nail’s tip. Give your dog lots of enthusiastic praise and a treat if you trim one nail successfully. Repeat every day until he doesn’t seem to mind.
  • Once your dog gets used to it, increase the number of nails you trim without upsetting or scaring your puppy. Even if you don’t need to cut nails, practice anyway. Your dog will become accustomed to the entire process, even if you only act like you are clipping.

Step 2: Grab your dog’s paw

How To Trim Dog Nails
Grab your dog’s paw to trim

Instead of picking up the paw from the front and examining the nails directly, you can grip the dog’s paw by sitting beside it and reaching under the dog’s arm. After that, you can use clippers to trim with your free hand.

It’s easier to see the bottom of the foot if you sit behind the dog and flip its paw backward. This keeps your dog’s leg in a natural posture while giving you an excellent view of what you’re doing.

Step 3: Extract the Nail to Cut

How To Trim Dog Nails
How To Trim Dog Nails

Choose which toe to cut first, then expose the nail.

If your dog has furry feet, you’ll need to push or cut the hair out of the way to see what you’re doing. Be careful if you’re using a nail grinder because the major drawback of nail grinders is their propensity to grasp and yank fur.

Next, place your thumb on the skin above the nail on the top of the toe and your forefinger on the toe pad. To push the nail away from the foot, move your thumb forward and your forefinger back on the pad.

Step 4: Select the cutting area

How To Clip Dog Nails
How To Trim Dog Nails With The Cutting Area

The quick, which is the pink part inside the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are located, like the area underneath our own nails, should never be cut. Since the dog nails are blood-supplied, you must be careful when choosing where to clip. To do it perfectly, follow some tips below:

Simply put, you should avoid trimming the pink portion of your white nails. Remember that many dogs’ nails have a considerably thinner safe-cutting zone than the remaining ones.

Cutting the dog’s nail with a cut edge parallel to the ground would be best. Make a 45° angle cut as opposed to a straight cut.

In contrast, black nails should be cut off a little bit at a time. Once you’re getting close to the quick, you will see the inside of the nail look chalky and white. Then, stop when you see a black dot in the center of the white area.

How To Cut A Dog'S Nails
Cutting dog black nails

*Pro tips:

  • Avoid cutting into the quick by at least a few millimeters to prevent pain and bleeding.
  • Finding the proper range is simpler for dogs with clear or light-colored nails, but it might be more difficult for those with dark-colored nails. So using a flashlight will help you see the area with the blood supply better.
  • Overgrown nails are more likely to occur on the front paws.
  • Always make your cuts parallel to the ground.

Step 5: Check the Dewclaws!

How To Cut A Dog'S Nails
Check the Dewclaws!

On the inside of their front legs, most dogs have dewclaws. The claws are loose and extend farther than the rest of your dog’s toes.

Check all four feet because some dog breeds, such as American Pitbulls, English Bulldogs,  and Golden Retrievers, have double dewclaws on their rear legs.

Step 6: Praise your dog

Always give your dog a treat, playtime, or another reward after trimming its nails. It can make your dog understand that nail trimming is good behavior.

2. Alternative Choice For How To Cut A Dog’s Nails

How To Grind Dog Nails That Are Overgrown

Grinding your dog’s nails is an option how to trim dog nails, or you may use it as a finishing touch after trimming them with the best dog nail grinders. Use light to medium pressure and find a pink dot (on white nails) or a black dot (on dark nails) in the center of the nail tip. Consider using hard pressure if your dog has long and robust nails. Here are some suggestions for grinding a dog’s nail:

  • Find and choose the best dog nail grinders to file down your dog’s nails.
  • Grind a small portion of your dog’s nail at a time, gradually. The dog’s toe should be gently but firmly supported.
  • Smooth down sharp edges by grinding over the nail’s base and then slowly inward from the nail’s tip.
  • Hold the grinder higher, closer to the top, for better control.
  • Make sure your dogs are at ease, and keep an eye on any sensitivities.
  • Keep your dog’s long hair away from the grinding tool to avoid getting entangled.

Filing Your Dog’s Nails to Smooth

How To Trim Dog Nails
Filing Your Dog’s Nails to Smooth – Copyrighted by Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

A nail file can be used; however, it might not be as efficient as a clipper. Filing a dog’s nails eliminates any sharp ends or pieces still present after dog nail trimming, although it takes time, and your dog might not enjoy the experience. Here are some simple steps to file your dog’s nails.

  • Grab your dog’s paw with a soft grip and gently stretch the toes apart with a heavy-duty nail file.
  • Hold the file in your dominant hand and round off any sharp edges for a smooth finish.

3. Advanced Method How To Clip Dog Nails

How To Stop A Dog’s Nail From Bleeding?

Even professional groomers occasionally cut the quick because not all dogs will remain still for nail trimmings, so don’t be hard on yourself if it is the first time you learn how to trim dog nails. Remember that cutting the nail in little segments instead of large chunks is the best technique to prevent cutting into the quick.

If your dog may experience distress from a bleeding toenail, prepare some styptic powder containing benzocaine, which can also lessen discomfort. Next, the steps below will show how to stop the bleeding:

  • Use a clean towel or dressing, and apply pressure to the nail.
  • Squeeze some powder onto the tip of your finger. To make the styptic powder adhere, apply pressure for a brief period.
  • If the bleeding doesn’t dramatically lessen or stop in an hour, take your dog to the vet.
  • Remove blood from your dog’s fur using hydrogen peroxide and a cotton ball.

*Pro tip

If you don’t have styptic powder, you can also stop a dog’s nail from bleeding by using flour or cornstarch in the same manner.

It is always conceivable for something to go wrong when learning how to cut a dog’s nails, even when you exercise extreme caution. The golden rule is not to freak out but instead, work to control the flow of blood and keep dirt from touching the incision to prevent infections.

How To Keep Dog Nails Short Without Clipping

As we mentioned, beyond using the clippers, you can learn how to clip dog nails with a nail file. However, it might be less efficient because it takes longer, and your puppy might not enjoy the experience.

How To Cut A Dog'S Nails
How To Keep Dog Nails Short Without Clipping

The good news is that you can naturally shorten your dog’s nails in several ways without putting her under so much strain. You can take your dog for a walk while trimming its nails. To gain more from such walks, make sure you first somewhat trim the dog’s nails.

It’s essential to be aware that those harsh surfaces are bad for your dog’s bones and joints, so give it some time on the soft ground.

You and your dog can benefit from this method by improving the bond and having fun. Additionally, you can acquire the necessary exercise at the same time.

How To Trim Overgrown Dog Nails

If your dog has overgrown nails that begin to cut into the pad, you should take it to the vet since it’s dangerous for you to do at home. So consistent nail trimming is crucial if you don’t want your dog to need an antibiotic course after the surgery.

How To Trim the Black Dog Nail

Black-nailed dogs can make it more difficult for you to learn how to trim dog nails. Moreover, it can be challenging to determine where the quick starts because of the natural pigmentation of the dog’s nails. In that case, you can avoid cutting the quick by trimming little pieces until you see a gray or pink oval forming inside the exposed portion of the nail. If your dog feels uncomfortable, you can meet your vet for a black nail trim.

If you decide to do it at home, you must carefully check the portion of the nail left after cutting the tip off since we can’t see inside the nail like white ones. If the spot around it is largely black with only a little white, you must stop because you’ve cut too far into the pulp.

4. Top Tips Dog Nail Trimming At Home

Top Tips How To Clip Dog Nails At Home
Top Tips on How To Trim Overgrown Dog Nails

Now that you know how to trim dog nails, you might want to think about some other tips for keeping your dog cheerful while cutting its nails:

  • Always give your dog treats or any kind of reward so it will feel comfortable and enjoy this experience.
  • If you’ve never cut dog nails, try to handle their paws frequently and simply rub the clippers into your dog’s paws without using them. When cutting nails, your dog will gradually get used to these tools and be at ease.
  • Try not to be anxious or terrified because if you are, your dog will sense it and try to ignore you when you try to cut its nails.
  • After a bath, when the dog has had a chance to rest in the warm water, it is the ideal time to trim their nails.
  • Don’t cut all of the nails at once. Be slow and gentle with your dog.
  • Remember to trim the dew claws like the dog’s regular nails. You need to learn and understand all essential info about what dog dew claws are and whether they should be removed.

>>>Further reading:

To maintain the cleanliness of your dog’s paws, learning how to trim dog nails is a crucial chore that should be done regularly. As a pet parent, you will quickly acquire the necessary skills to cut your dog’s nails following our easy and stress-free process from the Canvas Personalized.

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