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A Guide to Nail Trimming in Dogs

Nail trimming in dogs is one of the tasks that many pet owners fear. Most fur parents leave this to the pet groomer in fear of potential injury to their furry best friend. However, it is important to know that this should be done regularly, especially for dogs who are active outdoors. Just like with humans, dog’s nails sometimes get too long or overgrown and this can cause pain, discomfort or worse – cause an infection to your fur babies.

When a dog’s nails get too long, it can make walking or running painful. This may cause toes to splay and cause an uncomfortable pressure on the foot and leg of your dog. Over time, overgrown dog nails can lead to tendon injuries and even deformed feet. Fortunately, fur parents can help keep them short and clean by clipping their nails at home or getting it done by a professional pet groomer or veterinarian.


When does my dog’s nails need to be trimmed?

Whether to trim it or not depends on a lot of factors. Generally, your dog’s toe pads should be level with the ground when they stand upright, but their claws should not. The need to cut a dog’s nails will vary depending on the following:

Dog’s weight: Smaller and lighter dogs may not weigh enough for their nails to wear down naturally through exercise.

Dog type or breed: Certain dog breeds have more prominent dew paws and need to be trimmed more regularly than those breeds that have nails that contact the ground.

Amount of exercise/ duration of exercise they do: If a dog is constantly running around, their nails are likely to wear down naturally, reducing the need for a trim.


Type of ground they usually walk on – hard (pavement) or soft (grass)

Aside from these factors, your dog may also exhibit behavior– including biting their nails– to indicate that their nails may need a trim. Another indicator is if they make a tapping sound on hard surfaces when they move or if the nails are extended beyond their paws longer than necessary.

Bear in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean that dog’s nails are too long when you hear them against the floor. Consult your vet about this to know how regular your dog’s nails should be trimmed.


How to clip my dog’s nails at home?

Being able to trim your dog’s nails at home saves you a trip to the vet or your pet groomer. It can be simple as long as you are confident to do it and your dog is comfortable having their feet touched. The key to trimming your dog’s nails is to trim it gradually. However, if you have not yet done this before, you should start preparing (and your fur baby) days, or even weeks before.

Prepare your dog.

  • The first step is to teach your furry best friend not to be worried about having their paws handled. This can be done gradually, until your dog can be comfortable enough to be touched.
  • As much as possible, do not let your fear get ahead of you. If both you and your dog gets scared during this process, it can only harm your fur baby. Just like any desensitization training, this can take time. Be patient and take things one step at a time.
  • Bring out your clippers and let your dogs be familiar with it. Allow them to sniff your tool/s. Imitate clipping sound to help them be accustomed to the clipper noise.
  • Reward them with a treat along the way.



Pick a comfortable spot.

  • It will be easier to start clipping your dog’s nails when they are in a comfortable position and location.
  • Position them on a surface where they can feel safe and secured. You may use a carpet, a towel, or a bath mat.


Clip your dog’s nails gently and gradually.

  • Hold the claw firmly. Slightly squeeze the toe that you want to clip to straighten it.
  • Clip the top of the nail to help your dog be accustomed to the clipping sensation. Reward them after the first clip.
  • Be careful not to clip beyond the curve of the nail. If you accidentally clip the quick while trimming at home, your dog’s nails will probably bleed and they will probably react by barking at you or squirming in pain. In this situation, keep a cotton or gauze within reach to stop the bleeding. If bleeding continues for more than 20 minutes, seek help from your nearest veterinary clinic and have this addressed properly.
  • Cut at a slight angle across the tip of the nail. When you see a little black dot, stop trimming and proceed with the next nail.
  • Take your time and repeat this regularly. Trim efficiently, but take breaks when necessary.
  • After successfully trimming your dog’s nails at home, reward them with lots of treats and cuddles to continuously build a positive association with trimming


Keeping your dog’s nails at a healthy length contributes to the overall health and well-being of your fur babies. Nail trimming can be scary for pet owners but it is one of the preventive approaches to pet care. By keeping healthy nails and paws and staying ahead of problems, it reduces the likelihood that your pet will suffer from injuries or infections, and the likelihood of having them being brought in to the vet. 

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