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How to Trim Your Dog's Nails

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Trimming Your Dog's Nails
How to Trim Dog Nails - Cutting Dog Nail

Four styles of dog nail trimmers

Photo © Cody Mannino

Before you actually begin cutting the nails, you should get everything set up. Find a place where you and your dog are comfortable. Some people prefer to sit on the floor with their dogs. Others like to have their dogs on the couch or bed. You may find it easier to place your dog on a table. Some people even do nail trims with their dogs on their laps. Once you find the best location, be sure your equipment is within reach.

Positioning Dogs for Nail Trims

It is generally easiest to trim a dog's nails while he is lying down. The front nails may be done when he is sitting if the dog is compliant. You can stand beside your dog or in front of him, depending on the level of restraint needed. You may find it easier to stand or sit beside your dog and wrap an arm around him to keep him still. Many people find that nail trims work best when you have another person to help hold your dog still.

Cutting the Dog's Nails

Once you are in a good position, you can begin cutting the nails. Grasp your dog's paw firmly, but without squeezing. Hold the trimmers with your dominant hand and grasp the paw with your other hand. For optimum control, place your thumb on the bottom of the foot pad and your fingers on the top of the foot near the nail bed. Line up your trimmers by placing the edge of the blade upon the nail at the imaginary "cut line." Squeeze the trimmers in one swift, deliberate motion. Avoid cutting if the dog is moving (which may be easier said than done).

Trimming Dark Nails

When trimming black or dark-colored nails, only cut back a small amount (about 2 mm) at a time. The tapered narrow tip of the nail (if present) will usually not contain any quick. The widest part of the nail should be cut with caution. Look at the cross section of the nail between each cut. The center will turn a fleshy white to gray color when you are getting close to the quick. Stop when you see the white/gray fleshy center. If you are in doubt, stop sooner. You may opt to trim dark nails more frequently, only taking a small amount each time. This will also help longer nail quicks shrink back.

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