How To Cut Your Dog's Nails Like a Professional Groomer, Tips!

Posted by Christy Caplan
Trimming Dog's Nails
Instagram @bri_davis @lila_the_doggo

Trimming nails at home is not as bad as you think! I get it, this is my least favorite activity on the weekends! Yet I'm hoping these tips on what nail trimmers to buy, tips on how to trim and videos of my dog Shermie help folks. Always make sure your dog has taken a long walk before you attempt nail trimming and ear cleaning or any type of grooming! A tired dog makes for a smoother session.

Unhealthy nails cause a lot of problems and always a trip to the vet. The American Kennel Club has a great article about nail trimming and the article makes an important point.

"Long nails can turn a sound paw into a splayed foot and reduce traction, and they can cause deformed feet and injure the tendons over an extended period. As the long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts force on the foot and leg structure."

Long nails are uncomfortable for your dog and I've seen some terrible cases where a dog can barely walk. Let's get down to it.

Best dog nail trimmer

There are a few different styles and honestly, it's all about what your dog doesn't "react" to and what is easiest for you to handle. I really like a certain brand and this is the same type of trimmers we used at the vet clinic I worked at. You'll see them in the videos too below. I'm only going to highlight here the clippers I use as I'm very loyal to this brand and they come in different sizes.

Millers Forge Quality Nail Clipper

Nail Trimmers
Amazon

These are for dogs over 40 pounds and there is a medium for dogs closer to 30 pounds which include both of my dogs and they work great! They're available for $8.49 on Amazon. 

Some people use a Dremel but my dog's hate it. Others swear by it.

How to trim a dog's nails

A dog's nail consists of the living pink quick and the hard outer material called the shell. The quick supplies blood to the nail and runs through the core of it. Nerves in the quick cause bleeding and discomfort when cut. (Look for a "dot" in the middle of the nail and that will typically be the quick, ask a tech to show you and get a demo if this makes you nervous). 

Use corn starch to stop the bleeding if you make a nail leak by cutting the quick by accident. 

Step 1: After watching the video, try taking off the tip of the nail but holding it firmly and cutting the nail at a 45-degree angle below the quick.

Step 2: Be decisive with a quick firm squeeze. Remember that you're only taking off the tip of the nail. Never put the whole nail in the mouth of the clippers.

Step 3: Darker nails are harder and you need to look as you trim. You will not be able to see the pink quick part when you trim darker nails so my advice is literally to take off the tip until you're comfortable trimming a bit more.

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I had questions from clients on how to trim black nails without cutting too short. First I’d like to say that if you do cut too far, don’t panic! You can stop a nail from bleeding by using Corn Starch, flour or a styptic pencil/powder. Apply pressure if needed. Start by taking a tiny amount off the nail and keep an eye open for WHITE with a Black dot in the center. That is the nail quick. Don’t cut any further once you see that tiny bullseye. After, you can finish up by filing the nails with a emery board or a Dremel tool with a sand paper attachment. This will remove the sharp edges that can scratch your skin. If your pet doesn’t let you file or trim with clippers, ask a professional. (Groomer or vet) For Dogs Sake Grooming Salon 🐾(409)679-8861 #doggrooming #humanitybeforevanity #trimthosenails #howtotrimdognails

A post shared by Desterann Sonnier (@fordogssakegroomingsalon) on

It's OK if you need to muzzle your dog. All my dogs are muzzled if they act uncomfortable and having a muzzle on hand for grooming is what happens in a clinic. Keep it safe.

How to fit a muzzle

As you can see this is pretty easy but Sherm is also a laid back dog! If this is something you need your vet or tech to show you in person they'd be happy to do this anytime.

Here are some of the crucial tips to remember:

  • Exercise your dogs BEFORE you do any grooming - remember, a tired dog is a good dog.
  • Tools for nail trimming: there are many trimmers to choose from but these are the ones I like to use. Lately, I'm simply removing tips as we trim nails every week so it's less stressful and part of their routine. Plus it takes less time this way. Some folks use a Dremel and love it. Personally, our dogs are super noise sensitive so we stick to these.
  • How to fit a muzzle: Watch the video but it's really easy and it's OK if you need a muzzle - safer for everyone involved.

Staff note: Always go to the vet if you're having an issue! Don't let this become an activity that involves a lot of drama!

Also, dark nails are harder to trim so if you're nervous go to a groomer or better yet a vet clinic. Have them show you how to trim the nail and take the tips off. I promise it gets easier with practice. Different dog breeds have different colored nails and some even have lighter and darker nails on the same paw!

Dog's feet is an important part of dog health so knowing how to trim dog nails is an important technique for pet parents. Overgrown nails are painful for dogs and when their toenails are curving into the paw pad it's horrible.

Dog grooming is hard! Styptic powder (or corn starch) is great for stopping any bleeding and don't feel bad if you accidentally get the quick as it happens to everyone. That's why I really reinforced the tip as you have less of a chance of trimming too much nail if you just focus on one quick clip of the tip.

Spend time holding your dog's paws and giving lots of treats so this whole process is low drama. The more you treat them when you're messing with their paws the easier trimming will be for you both. Caring for your dog's toenails is just as important as any other aspect of your dog's health.

Have you tried trimming your dog's nails before? Please leave us a comment below.  

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How To Cut Your Dog's Nails Like a Professional Groomer, Tips!