Clipping Your Dog’s Nails

Clipping dog's nails image 1Nail clipping is important for several reasons.  If the dog’s nails are left too long it can cause discomfort while walking and can actually cause damage to the dog’s paw and leg which can lead to all sorts of problems.   The most obvious reason for clipping the nails is to keep them blunt so that your dog will be less likely to scratch people or furniture and plus to prevent them doing damage to themselves.

You may find that clipping his/her nails is not required as the dog does enough walking and running on hard surfaces that the nails wear down naturally themselves, in which case you just need to keep an eye on the dewclaws if he/she has any.  Some dogs just never grow long nails and therefore clipping is not required.

Some dogs will run from you when they see the dreaded nail clippers come out while others are not fussed at all about having their nails clipped.  If your dog is in the latter category then your job will be a breeze, however for those dogs who do not like having their nails done then you will have more difficulty, it may take longer and you may need some assistance.  Training your puppy from the beginning to put up with having the nails done will make this job so much easier for later on.  However, training will be a much longer process if you have acquired a rescue dog that hasn’t been used to this.  If the job is all too hard then it’s best to get a professional groomer or veterinary person to do the job. But for those of you who are willing to give it a go then here’s the deal.

Firstly, you need to decide what type of clipper or trimmer you would like to use and purchase.  Refer to our page on Dog Nail Clippers which lists the different types of equipment that are available for clipping the nails.  Once you have your equipment ready then you are ready to start.

Hold the dog’s leg and paw as steady as possible in one hand.  If your dog has clear nails and you can see the pink vein running through the middle then just trim to below that pink bit.  The general rule of thumb is that the nails should line up with the underpad pretty much.  If you look at where you have just cut you will see whether the middle is live vein or not.  Some dogs have black nails which are difficult to judge where the vein finishes.  With these dogs you can tell by looking from the underneath of the nail and you will see the excess nail protrudes from the thicker bit.  In this case I would be a little more careful and by trimming your dog’s nail a little at a time until you will start to see the live bit in the centre of the nail where you have just cut.


The dewclaws are the nails to look out for – they can be the forgotten ones.  The dewclaw is the one further up the side of the leg.  Some dogs have them on the front legs only, while some dogs have dewclaws on the back legs also.  Then again, your dog may have had all dewclaws removed as a young pup so you won’t need to worry.  But you must be aware whether your dog has them and check whether they need clipping on a regular basis along with the main nails.  If the dewclaws are left to grow they can grow into the side pad and cause infection plus soreness.

For clipping the dewclaws you will need to hold the dog’s paw so that you can ease the nail outwards a little with your finger to get a better angle.  Clipping these nails is as per the other nails.  Clipping your dog’s nails is not that difficult – training him/her to get used to it is the key.

 If by chance you do happen to cut too short and the nail starts to bleed styptic powder will stop the bleeding.  If you don’t have any styptic powder then cornflour should do the same trick so try that instead.

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