• Dr. Wenny Wang Bauman

Dog Nail Clipping Guide

Most dogs wear down their nails through activity. If they are not worn down naturally, however, they can become extremely long and damage carpets and upholstery. Excessively long nails can splay the toes and interfere with traction by preventing the foot pads from making contact with the ground. Long nails should be trimmed.


Nails are also trimmed to prepare a dog for show. If trimming is done twice a month, the quick (the bundle of nerves and blood vessels inside the nail) will recede toward the base of the nail and the nail will remain permanently shorter.


Some nail clippers for dogs have two cutting edges, while others of the guillotine type have one. Either type is satisfactory. Nail clippers designed for humans do not work well because a dog’s nails are not flat the way a person’s are.


Begin by lifting the dog’s paw and extending the nail. Identify the quick (the pink part running down the center), which contains the nerves and blood vessels. If the nails are white, it’s easy to see the quick. Be sure to trim the nail in front of (but close to) the quick. When using a guillotine cutter, the blade should slice upward from the underside of the nail. If the nails are dark and the quick is invisible, a good rule is to cut the nails parallel to the toe pads, so that the nails just clear the floor.


To use a dremel tool, you need to put on a sanding drum and carefully pull any hair away from the nail you are working on. Then carefully hold the tool against the nail with a slight pressure, removing just a small amount if you cannot see the quick. Do not push the sanding drum against the foot, just hold it lightly against the surface of the nail. You need to be careful that the tool is not getting warm and heating your dog’s toe.


If you do inadvertently cut into the kwik, there is a great home remedy: Nail bleeding after a trim or being broken? Don’t have quick-stop powder? Apply cornstarch, soap shavings, tea bag, cotton gauze, and apply pressure while you elevate the limb. Do not use water or rub. (Note: If the bleeding does not stop, please visit your veterinarian or emergency vet service in your area immediately.)


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