How to Trim Dog Nails That are Overgrown?

For trimming the nails of your dog, first, you need to have a nail clipper made for dogs, some treats and a blood clotting powder (for emergency).

You can start trimming the nails on your own but the important point to keep in mind is that do not trim beyond “Quick” where blood vessels are located. It is okay to trim your dog’s nails once every month.

Most dogs do not like having their nails trimmed. And even dog owners tend to avoid cutting them either because they are afraid of “quicking” the puppy or that their pet will fuss and create bad feelings during the process.

But, nail cutting is a procedure that will always be surrounded by drama in which all dog owners should be ready for it.

However, trimming is a crucial part of a trip to the groomer. If your dog’s nails are long, it can be extremely painful for your legs and furniture.

If your dog is active and runs all day, cutting his nails may not be necessary. The physical activity wears them down naturally. But long toenails are common among sub-urban dogs who don’t walk as much within a day.

Now there is a range of tools you can use to trim your dog’s nails. But many individuals prefer using clippers. Here is a step by step guide to help you keep your puppy’s toenails short and groomed.

First, Why is Trimming Your Pet’s Nails Essential?

You may be wondering, what’s the big deal about trimming my dog’s toenails. Well, here are three important reasons to why you need to do that.

1. Comfort

Animals, specifically dogs, walk and balance on their toes. The spongy little paw pads help them to move around on different surfaces, absorb shocks and protects them from harm.

However, if the nails are too long such that they extend over their pads, then the dog will put pressure on their weight on nails and joints, which is to mean, they will be standing on their nails instead of their pads.

2. Health

Animals greatly rely on information from their feet to move around accurately. In simple terms, the puppy’s brains are programmed to associate toenail contact with being on a hill, and so he will change his body posture accordingly.

So whenever his nails get into contact with the ground, not necessarily the hill, a dog will assume a “goat of a rock” posture where he leans forward over his forelimbs as supported by his toes.

Research says this posture could eventually affect the muscles and the joints, especially the hind limb, thus making it difficult for your dog to jump in cars or climb stairs or even getting up from lying down. Hence we should cut the toenails when the hind end has become painful.

3. Urban and Rural Dogs

Pet dogs live in an urban environment. And so they don’t get to walk so much, especially on a hard surface. Their nails, therefore, need to be trimmed regularly. But for those working dogs who spend their days outdoors, their toenails wears away naturally.

Why is Trimming Your Pet’s Nails Essential
A woman is cutting nails on a dog paw close-up.

How to Clip Dog Nails

1. Things you will need

  1. Dog nail clippers – there are a variety of clippers in the market, including guillotine-style nail clipper which is the easiest to use, pliers-style that are best for large puppies and scissor-type nail clippers.
  2. Treats – you’ll need to reward your dog after clipping each nail to make the experience positive. The cupcakes are something which I recommend and my dogs love them so much. I have put up the recipe for the dog cupcakes for you on my website which very easy to follow and includes in-depth information.
  3. Clotting powder – in case there’s bleeding, it will help stop it fast.

2. Tips for Using Dog Nail Clippers

It can be quite a challenge for someone who has never used dog nail clippers before. But, a good start will be to test the clippers to ensure that the blades are sharp enough. And also, use a firm grip on the fingers regardless of which type it is.

Experts again advise that before clipping anything, you first get your puppy to get used to the nail clipper. And don’t forget to praise the dog.

3. The Nail Trimming Process

  1. Start with the front paws and hold one of his paws firmly but gently in your hands. Then identify where you want to make the cut.
  2. Clip off the end of the nail while avoiding the quick as much as possible. Try to cut perpendicularly to the nail. If you can’t see the quick, it’s better that you cut too little to avoid injuring your pet.
  3. To do the back paws, lay him on his side and hold them firmly.
  4. Once you are done clipping, give your puppy lots of treats and cuddles.

Learn More With the Help of Video

How Long Should I Trim the Dog’s Nails?

Puppies are of different breeds. So, their correct length varies according to the breed. However, if you hear your dog’s nails tapping or clipping on a hard surface, it’s most likely because they are too long and you may want to trim them. But you can still see a vet if you are not sure.

There is the pinkish area of the dog’s claws called “quick” which has nerves and blood vessels.

How Often Should I Clip Dog Nails?

That depends on how active your pet is and the type of surfaces they walk on every day. But something else that will influence how regular you should trim their toenails is if they have declawed. In such a case, the nails on the front feet will need to be regularly trimmed than those on the rear.

However, most people clip the nails of their dogs once a month. But try to check on the nails every day not only when you want to cut them. That will help your furry friend to get used to their nails being handled.

More Nail Clipping Tips to Make Your Work Easier

  1. After trimming, give your pet a big hug or a treat for allowing you to groom their nails. It’s essential that you show and maintain positive reinforcement.
  2. Before you start clipping, ensure that you know how to use the clippers first.
  3. Ensure that you have sufficient light or you may end up hurting your pet.
  4. Be gentle and remember to separate the toes with the fingers using your other hand.
  5. If your puppy is too hairy, start by trimming the hairs around the toes with a pair of scissors.
  6. Cut the nail from underneath, not from the top going downwards like the way human nails are trimmed.
  7. Pay attention to the shape of the nail. The underside of the toenail should form a rectangular shape.
  8. Above all, go slowly. Remember there is no going back once you’ve cut more nail.

What if I Cut the Quick?

What most people fear when clipping their dog’s nails is that they might cut too deep. First, we advise that you avoid this as much as you can. Always start by cutting the minimum off, and if you need to trim more, you can proceed from there.

That said, accidents can still happen. And here is what you need to have in case you cut the quick.

1. Styptic powder

It helps stop bleeding from clipping nails too short, minor cuts or scratches. The powder also acts as an antiseptic to help prevent infections. And as it contains an anesthetic called Benzocaine, this powder helps to relieve pain.

Use a cotton ball to apply the styptic powder on your dog’s paw pad and toenail to stop bleeding and alleviate pain.

2. Styptic pencil

This pencil is important as it helps to apply the exact amount of powder to the nails, cut, or where there is a scratch. However, be warned that they contain silver nitrate that can cause a stinging sensation.

So for those puppies that are already nervous about having their nails clipped, these pencils might not be the best for them.

3. Bar soap

Should you not have styptic powder readily available, you can use bar soap but ensure that it doesn’t have any fragrance. Hold the soap against the toenail for some minutes to allow the blood to clot.

clipping dogs nails

Conclusion on How to Clip Dog Nails

All said and done, we know that you want the best for your pet and would go extra lengths just to make sure that he is happy and healthy. It’s unfortunate, however, that not so many dog owners understand the importance of nail grooming and maintenance.

But we hope that this article has helped you know some things about this often overlooked nail clipping topic.

It’s therefore, up to you to implement this task to your dog’s routine. We advise that you stay alert. Know and understand your puppy’s behavior as that will help you to immediately figure out if something is off.

Pay close attention to the nails to ensure that they are clean, neat and well maintained.



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