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Published: Jan 16, 2024 4 min read

Nail trimming is an essential part of every dog’s overall care routine. As a dog owner, it’s equally important to know the do’s and don'ts of dog nail trimming and care, especially if you’re going to be doing it at home. Read on to learn some basic tips on how to trim dog nails.

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When to trim a dog’s nails

As a rule of thumb, you should make sure your dog’s nails are kept at a length that doesn’t reach the floor. If you can hear their nails tapping on the floor, it’s definitely time to trim them.

It usually takes about three to four weeks for dog nails to grow to where they need to be trimmed. However, you don’t have to wait that long if your dog has rapid nail growth or if you want to keep them at a certain length.

Tools and supplies needed to trim dog nails

If you prefer to cut your dog’s nails yourself, rather than take them to the vet or to a professional groomer, there’s a few things you will need. Depending on the method you prefer (nail clipping or grinding), some of the tools and supplies you’ll need may include:

  • Scissor or guillotine style clippers
  • Nail grinder
  • Nail file
  • Styptic powder or cornstarch (to stop any potential bleeding)
  • Treats (for positive reinforcement)
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How to trim different types of dog nails at home

Your approach to nail trimming should depend on the type of dog nail you’re dealing with.

With nails that are light in color, or those through which you can see the nail quick (a dog’s soft cuticle containing nerves and blood vessels), trimming is much simpler. You can grab each of your dog’s toes and trim from the tip of the nail (using dog nail clippers, grinders or files) until you’re a few millimeters away from the quick.

With dark nails, on the other hand, will not be able to see the quick and will therefore need to be more careful as you trim them. In order to avoid trimming past the nail quick and causing bleeding, you should trim the nail little by little until you’ve made sure they’re not close to floor-length.

Dewclaws (the nails that grow on your dog’s side toes) can be trimmed by pulling the toe away from the paw and following the same length guidelines. Though seemingly fragile, these addages are quite flexible because they’re attached by loose skin.

Getting their nails trimmed can be a very stressful time for dogs. Dog training in the form of acclimating them to nail trimmers and other tools could help make the nail care process go more smoothly for both you and your dog.

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How to trim dog nails FAQs

How often should you trim a dog’s nails?

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The frequency at which dog owners should trim their dog’s nails will depend on the rate at which they grow. The general rule is that they should not be long enough to touch the floor. We recommend taking close up looks every now and then to make sure the nails are always a few millimeters away from the floor.

What happens if you don’t regularly trim your dog’s nails?

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Failing to practice regular nail trimming could result in a nail length that’s harmful to your dog’s feet.

When nails get too long, part of the nail could become lodged in and cause damage to a dog’s paw pads. If your dog’s nails puncture their paw pads, this could open the door to infections if the wound is not treated promptly and properly.

Additionally, the end of the nail could start to curve and grow like that, which could not only be painful to the dog but also make it very challenging to trim them later on.

Summary of Money’s guide on how to trim dog nails

  • Regularly trimming nails should be a part of every basic dog grooming routine.
  • You can have your dog’s nails trimmed professionally or you could do it yourself with the proper tools and techniques.
  • Not all dog nails are the same; dark or black nails require a different, more careful trimming approach than lighter ones.
  • Accidents could happen in the process of learning how to cut dog nails, which is why owners should keep products to stop bleeding on hand.
  • Long nails could be harmful for your dog’s paws and cause them pain.