How To Safely Trim Your Dog’s Toenails


Although Kenzo + Vík are pretty active we still need to trim their nails every couple of months. For the longest time this was the most stressful and anxiety-filled event for me, but after talking to my vet and having lots of practice we are basically pros at trimming our dogs’ nails.

Keeping your dog’s toenails clipped is best for their health – toenails that are too long can cause your doggy pain, as they put pressure on toe joints when they walk. But toenail trimming can be a source of anxiety for dogs and owners alike. Many dogs hate having their feet handled, so this can make toenail trimming a chore. However, there are a few steps to follow to make cutting your dog’s toe nails a lot easier.

This posts contain affiliate links for the nail clippers Caleb and I have used and/or seen used by our veterinarian and groomer.

How To Trim Your Dog’s Toenails

Get the Right Equipment

Always use scissors-style clippers, as guillotine-style ones can crush the nail. And never use human nail clippers, as the flat cutting surface will not effectively cut a dog’s nails. Depending on your dog’s size and breed, you may need smaller  clippers. The smaller the clippers, the better your control and accuracy on the nail over will be.

Be Calm

Make sure your dog is relaxed, that you provide lots of reassurance, and have some of their favorite treats close by. Kenzo + Vík’s favorite treats are these freeze dried chicken liver cubes. It is important that you stay relaxed as well, as dog’s are very good at sensing their owner’s moods. If you are stressed, your pup is bound to pick up on it, and nail trimming will turn into a huge ordeal.

Make sure you’re in a well-lit area, so you can see what you are doing. Remember, if you cut the nail too short (and cut into the quick), it can cause pain and bleeding for your dog. Try to handle your dog’s paws often even when you’re not trimming their nails, so they will get used to you doing so. Kenzo is very calm when we touch his paws, but we are still working with Vík on letting us freely handle his paws. He is only 8 months, so he still has plenty of puppy energy and thinks we are always playing.

RELATED: Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs 

Clip Away

Grasp your dog’s paws firmly but gently, without squeezing on the toes. Cut at a 45 degree angle, only clipping off little bits at a time. Make sure to only cut until you can see the white inside of the nail – this is especially true on dogs with dark nails, as it is hard to see the quick. If you happen to cut into the quick, it may bleed quite a bit. We always have some styptic powder or even cornstarch on hand to stop the bleeding just in case.

Final Advice

Keep an eye on your dog’s nails. For dogs who are active and spend a lot of time walking, running, and playing on hard surfaces, you may need to trim their nails less often than dogs who lead a more sedentary lifestyle. We rarely have to trim our dogs’ nails during the witer months because they are so active and we hike a lot, but during the winter we have to trim them more often. When in doubt, ask your vet or vet tech – they are often happy to show you the proper technique or you can pay them (or your groomer) to do it for you. But, learning to do it yourself will save you some money each month, along with force you to desensitize your dog from getting irritated when you fuss with his/her paws.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged anything extra. This just helps me buy my morning coffee and some more dog treats for Vík + Kenzo! Thank you for your support, I couldn’t run this blog without you!

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