How To Cut Dog Nails At Home-Best Way To Trim Dog Nails


Trimming your dog’s nails can be stressful for some people. If you have ever trimmed your dog’s nails and cut too far down, your fear Dog Pawswill only increase when you see all the blood from your pal’s foot and the cry that they let out when that happens.

You need to know how to cut dog nails at home to avoid injury.  I am going to show you the best way to trim dog nails, what tools will work the best for you and explain why it is important to trim dog’s nails.

Why You Need To Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Your dog’s nails need care much like our nails need. If they aren’t cared for, they can become brittle and crack, split or tear which can lead to an infection that could require a vet’s attention. They also can start to curve down and grown into your dog’s paw pads. It can become quite painful for our dogs to walk or stand on hard surfaces when their nails get too long and makes them less stable when walking on hard surfaces in your home.

If you don’t regularly cut your dog’s nails the “quick” (this is the pink area that has blood vessels and is living) will also grow longer over time, making it so you can’t trim your dog’s nails to the length they should be. Eventually, over time, you will get the quick to recede with regular trimmings and keeping your dog’s nails shorter.

Your dog’s nails should not protrude over the pad and should not touch the ground when standing. If you hear them clicking on hard

Golden Retriever Puppy

Start trimming nails when your dog is young.

surfaces, it is time for a nail trim.

Physically active dogs on hard surfaces like concrete will require less maintenance on their nails because they will wear their nails down more, but dogs that aren’t as active, or mainly walk on grass will need attention more often with their nails. On average, you should figure that you need to trim your dog’s nails about every 1-2 months. Generally the front nails needing more attention than the back nails.

Different Types Of Dog Nail Clippers

You might be surprised to learn that not only are there different sizes and brands available, but there are different ways to go about getting the job done.

The first type is scissors. It works like a household scissors, but has extra force for cutting your dog’s nails. This is the most common and generally considered the easiest to use.

The next type is a Guillotine. With this method you stick your dog’s nail through the hole in the tool. When you squeeze the handles, the blade will lower and slice off the end of the nail.

The last type I am going to talk about is a dog nail grinder. This option could work well for someone who is afraid of using a scissor type nail cutter.

I will discuss each of these types in next section of this article and how to specifically use each type.

How To Cut Dog Nails At Home With Scissors Or Guillotine

  • Before you begin trimming your dog’s nails, make sure they are calm and not needing to let out some energy. This will help the process go quicker and more smoothly.
  • If your dog has long fur, trim back the fur with a kids scissors prior to trimming their nails. This will make it easier for you to see what you are doing and will help keep the blade sharper on the nail trimmers.
  • Let your dog see the nail trimmer and smell it. They are curious what is going on, so get it out of the way before you start working.
  • Grab your dog’s paw gently and apply slight pressure to the pads to extend the nails a bit and get a better angle on them.
  • Dog nails should be cut from underneath at a 45 degree angle. You are only to cut the white nail and to stay away from the quick or pink area.

Cross section of dog nail

  • Make a decisive, clean cut by firmly squeezing the nail trimmer handle. Don’t gently or softly squeeze the clipper. One firm squeeze and you will be through the nail. Do not pull off any jagged pieces of nail that are still attached if you do not get a clean cut. Rather, you should use a nail file to remove any nail hanging and also file jagged nails.
  • Do not have the blade cut across the side of the nail, but rather from back to front. Cutting your dog’s nails sideways can crush the nail.
  • If your dog has white toe nails, the cut surface will start to appear pink right before you reach the quick. If need to trim dog nails that are black, it is a bit harder, since you won’t be able to see the quick. You will need to look at the toe nail head-on. You will see a small dark circle or it turning black right before you reach the quick.
  • Don’t forget the Dew claw. This would be the claw similar to a thumb. Not all dogs have them, but left unattended they can eventually grow into your dog’s pad.

Using A Dog Nail Grinder To Cut Dog Nails

Using a nail grinder will take longer to get the job done than scissors or a guillotine. It is best used for dogs that hate regular clippers or if you are afraid to use a scissor or guillotine type nail cutter. Using a nail grinder is basically filing your dog’s nails down.

This will take longer than the cutters and many dogs don’t like the sound. If they get impatient and start squirming, you can cut the quick with this process also, but if you have a patient dog, it might be a safer method to use if you have a hard time with nail cutting.

  • Just like with the scissor or guillotine steps, you are going to want to trim your dog;s fur on his paws before using a nail grinder. Do not use the grinder if your dog has fur hanging over their nails.
  • Show your dog the nail grinder prior to starting, and turn it on to get them accustom to the sound.
  • Choose a nail grinder that has 2 speeds. The lower speed will be more quite, but will take longer. Experiment with the different speeds to figure out what works best for you and your dog.
  • Often Check as to how close you are getting to the quick to avoid injuring your dog.

Recommendations On Each Of The Three Cutters

Scissor – Pick a scissor that is stainless steel, rubber coated handles for easy grip and has a safety stop to help prevent injury. My recommendation is Safari 770045 Professional Nail Trimmer. This is available in 2 sizes and the smaller size costs less than $10.

Guillotine – My recommended guillotine is the Resco Original Dog & Cat Nail Clippers. It is available in 3 sizes, has easy blade replacement, lifetime warranty and is made in the U.S.A. Costing less than $15 from Amazon depending on the size you need.

Nail Grinder – My recommendation is the Dremel 7300-PT Pet Nail Grooming Tool. It has 2 speeds for easy control. Cordless, with battery charger included, 2 year warranty. This is one of the top rated nail grinders available. You should check the current price from Amazon.

What To Do If You Cut The Quick

Remember, it can be very painful if you cut your dog’s quick, and it can bleed quite badly. It is best to be prepared, especially if you are not experienced with cutting your dog’s nails. It is important to get pressure on it so you can get it to clot. Here are some other methods that will help.

  • Use Styptic Powder. Many professional groomers and vet’s use this product to help stop the bleeding. It will quickly stop the bleeding but it also works as an antiseptic. It contains Benzocaine, which is a minor anesthetic, to reduce the pain.
  • Corn Starch. This can either be used just as the powder or you can mix it with water to make a paste to apply to the cut quick.
  • Bar of Soap. It is best to use a fragrant free soap if possible. Hold the soap gently on your dog’s foot allowing it time to clot.

Additional Advice

If you are new to cutting your dog’s nails, I suggest going slow. Make sure you and your dog are comfortable with the process. All nails don’t have to be cut at the same time if either of you are getting stressed out.

Start with just trimming a bit off of their nails to help you feel comfortable and to avoid cutting into the quick.2 dog paws

If possible, start when your dog is just a puppy. Make sure they are comfortable with you handling their feet and that it is a pleasant experience for them.

Have treats on hand, and reward your dog for behaving during the trimming. Soon they will learn it is an awarding process.

There isn’t a right or wrong tool to choose for dog nail trimming. Choose the tool you are most comfortable using, and the tool that works best for your dog and his temperament. A small dog nail clipper might work best for most sizes, as you will have the most control over how short you cut your dog’s nails.

By following the steps I have outlined for you, you should now know how to trim dog’s nails, and have figured out which method is the best way to trim dog nails for you and your dog.

If you decide that you just can’t trim your dog’s nails, you can either take your dog to your vet’s office or to a groomer’s and be charged approximately $10 for a nail trim.

Please leave any questions, comments or suggestions below.


Some of the links within this post are affiliate links of which I may receive a small compensation from sales of certain items. It in no way changes the price that you pay for a product.









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *