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Dog Nails Care:”Pawdicures” How to Trim Nails

Dogs need their nails done and kept “paw”lished

Dog nails painted like human nails.

Keeping your dog’s nails is an important task that needs to be done frequently. Just think if you didn’t care for your own nails. Not keeping them healthy can lead to infection, not walking properly, and pain when dog nails get too long and start to curve into the dog’s paw pad. (I’ve seen this many times!)

Too Long Dog Nails

Dog nails that are WAY too long and interfering health.
This is painful not only to their feet, but their legs and joints because of the way they have to maneuver to have the least pain.

Too long of nails on dogs can also have them getting caught on things like carpets, rugs, fences, and areas that have cracks. It’s not fun the have your nail ripped off partially or completely. Check especially if your dog likes to run that their nails and nail beds are in contact. Dogs can run their nails down even if it’s painful for them.

Dogs That Become Scared of Getting Their Nails Done

Dog worried about getting his nails trimmed.
“Did you just say you were going to trim my nails??”

Trimming your dog’s nails shouldn’t be a bad experience. If they become fearful of having their nails trimmed, they won’t want anyone touching their nails or paws. This can lead to biting when touched, like chewing you up or the veterinary clinic people that need to trim your dog’s nails. (There a lot of dogs that HATE getting their nails done especially my own Chloe!)

Touching Dog Nails and Paws

The best action you can take is when you first get your dog, whether as a puppy or adopted, get them used to having their paws touched. You can do this with treats as when you touch their paws and they don’t react, you give them a treat. You can also use peanut butter in a toy for them to be distracted while you play with their paws without them reacting badly.

Treating your dog as you play with the paws and trimming their nails can help get them accustomed to having nail trims.
“Oh, I get yummies if I just let my human touch and play with my paws!”

After you have established a no reaction to having their paws played with, you can try to put little pressure on their toes and nails. This is just very little pressure (not pinching) like lightly squeezing a grape without it busting. This will get them used to having their paws and toes manipulated with your hands without anything happening yet.

Tools for trimming


Common dog nail clippers.

Most people use the guillotine type that look and work like using scissors. When using these types, make sure the blade is sharp. If they are dull, they pinch the nail and really hurts the dog’s paw. You wouldn’t want a doctor using a dull blade when cutting!!

Grinding Dremel

Trimming your dog's nails with a dremel is just as efficient as clippers.

There is also grinding tools that work exactly like a dremel. These kinds use a sandpaper texture on a wheel that spins really fast. Lots of dogs prefer humans using these as they DO NOT pinch like the guillotine type of nail trimmers. But, they can get hot with the friction against the nail. To use these, you should do short taps of contact. If you have a dog that has long hair on their paws, I would recommend trimming the fur first so the dremel will not get the hair caught in the wheel. There are dremels specifically for just dogs that have covers, but I would rather be safe than sorry! (Your dog didn’t ask for you to wax their paws!!!)


Dog having a worried look on it's face wonder if you're going to cut it's nails.

Ok, here is how you trim your dog’s nails. Most people are NOT comfortable doing this by themselves and are scared to hurt their dog. This is very common and the only way to get over this is to go slow and take only a very tiny bit off at a time. It does come with practice to know where and how to trim/cut your dog’s nails. Every dog is different in the way they like their nails to be trimmed.

Consider also how you position your dog. Make sure not to move their legs in a weird position where it could hurt the dog. Older dogs may like to lay down and be comfortable. (You wouldn’t want a person doing your nails harshly and leaving you in pain!)

The “Quick” in Dog Nails

Finding the “quick” is sometimes a hit and miss trial at first. (This is when treats and peanut butter come into play! Have them thinking and doing something else to keep them busy and not worry what you’re doing.) When cutting/dremeling back the nail, you will start to see a “black moon” (dark circle inside the nail). This is the outside of the “quick” and you are very close to making the nail bleed. When you see the moon, STOP! This is the farthest you can cut on the nail. DO NOT CUT ANY MORE ON THAT NAIL!!!

If the nail starts to bleed, you can use special quick stop powder/pen or if you don’t have that, you can use regular flour. (Just needs something to stop and soak the bleeding.)

How to locate the quick in a dog's nail.
Think if you cut your nails back too much. OUCH!!!!

Nails should be trimmed usually every two weeks to get the “quick” to recede back. If your dog walks on concrete, the concrete slowly files down the nail if your dog is active. Normally you only have to trim once a month if your dog is active.

There is a veterinary procedure some clinics can do to cut the dog’s nails past the quick, but this requires for the dog to be put under anesthesia and going home with antibiotics and pain medications. There can be complications if the nail gets infected or if the dog is active before the nails recover.

Frankie and Chloe’s opinion

Cutting pug nails can sound like a pig squealing!
I have to say, this is so true!!

Frankie always had big opinions on nail trimming. (Most pugs will screech like pigs when getting their nails done!! This is a fact from me!!) My parents and I would always take him to the vet office for nail trims. We could always hear him screaming his little head off!!

Chloe HATES guillotine type of nail clippers. We always use grinding tools. My husband and I have to tag team with me on peanut butter duty and him dremeling her nails. We notice that most dremels emit a high frequency noise that drove Chloe nuts when she heard it. We finally found a dremel that’s quiet and easy to use.

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