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Guide to Trimming a Dog's Nails

Posted by Kaila Scott on

If you can hear your dog coming towards you with the tap-tap-tap of their nails, it is likely that the dog is in need of a nail trim. When you are cuddling with your dog and you start to notice the scratches come more consistently, this is another sign! Trimming your dog’s nails is an essential part of caring for them.


It is crucial that all pet owners know the importance of dog hygiene. Long toenails not only look bad, but they can also impact your pet’s health and happiness. Long nails can also cause some serious damage when your dog physically interacts with someone.


Ignoring your pups’ nails for too long can lead to a lifetime of pain for them. In this article, we are going to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions about trimming dog nails.


When Are a Dog’s Nails Too Long?

It can be hard to know when their nails are too long. Much of the time, you can tell by identifying if part of the nail is noticeably skinnier than the rest. If there is a long and skinny curve coming off the nail, it is time to bring the clippers out.


You’re very much in luck if your dog has translucent nails. This is because of how easy it is to tell when they are too long. You will be able to see the pink tissue in the center, also known as the quick. Anything that grows past the quick can be trimmed off. If your dog has black nails, just try to rely on the slender curve of their nails.


What Happens if My Dog’s Nails Get Too Long?

Long nails can have many negative impacts on your canine companion’s health, happiness, and wellbeing. 


Some of the short-term effects of long nails are:

  • Nails can get caught in things such as carpets, blankets, and your dog’s collar
  • Nails will start to twist resulting in pain when your dog walks
  • Long nails can grow into the paw pad causing potential infection and pain
  • Long nails can cause your dog to slip and slide on hardwood floors due to a lack of traction

On the other hand, you need to consider the long-term effects that unkempt nails can cause:


  • The unusual stance when your dog walks with long nails can cause joint problems
  • The quick can grow out and make it impossible to cut the nails short enough
  • Chronic nails can cause arthritis in your furry friends’ feet

Does Walking Your Dog Trim Their Nails?

If you’re wondering “Does walking your dog trim their nails?” The answer to this isn’t easily determined. Walking your dog obviously has many different benefits. However, it should not easily just be assumed that walking your dog will keep their nails trimmed.


There are other factors you must consider. The most important is where you actually walk your dog. When you walk your dog on harder surfaces, their nails will likely receive some trimming in the process. Softer surfaces, however, will likely not be a good replacement for a traditional nail trim.

Can I Walk My Dog After Cutting the Quick?

Many people are often left wondering “Can I walk my dog after cutting the quick?” The answer is yes! Many dogs will not show any signs of pain after you cut their nails too short. As long as your dog is not in any pain and is not limping, you should be fine.


If your issue is experiencing issues walking, it would be best to let them rest. Your dog likely won’t want to go for a long walk after you have cut their nail too short. 

How Do I Know What Angle to Cut Dog Nails?

Knowing what angle to cut dog nails is essential to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your pet. We suggest cutting your dog’s nails at a 45-degree angle. Make sure you stay below the quick as to not hurt your dog. For dogs with dark nails, the quick can be hard to see. You are better off taking small snips off the nail. That way, you can ensure that you don’t cause your dog any harm.


How to Cut Dog Nails: A Step-by-Step Guide

Check out this step-by-step guide to learn how to trim your dog’s nails. 


What You Will Need to Cut Your Dog’s Nails

Here are a few things that you will need to cut your dog’s nails:

  • Calm nerves and lots of patience
  • Dog Nail clippers 
  • An extra pair of hands
  • Styptic powder, flour, or cornstarch incase you cut the quick
  • Plenty of delicious treats to reward your dog afterward

Gather Your Supplies

Use the small checklist above to make sure that you have everything you need to get started. It is better to be prepared so that the process is as seamless as possible. 

Pick Up Your Dog’s Foot

While it can be tempting to pick up your canine companions’ paw from the front and watch the nails directly from the front, this can cause errors. It is also uncomfortable for both of you. Instead, sit on the side of your pup and firmly reach for their paw with one hand. 


Then, with your free hand, you can trim your dog’s nails with the clippers. 

Isolate the Nail to Trim

Next, you must decide on which nail to cut first. Expose the nail and separate it from the rest. This way you can ensure that you don’t injure any other toes. It is at this point you should identify what angle to cut dog nails.

Decide Where You Need to Cut

When trimming your dog’s nails, the goal is to get them as short as possible without causing pain or drawing blood. Here are some important tips that will help you avoid cutting the quick:

If your dog has white or translucent  nails, simply avoid cutting the pink part.

On many nails, the part you are able to cut is far skinnier than the rest of the nail.

When cutting black nails, only cut small amounts at a time. As you are approaching the quick, you will notice that the nail becomes almost chalky in texture and white. Stop when you see a black dot in the white area as this is quick.

Don’t Forget the Dewclaws

Most dogs will have rather large dewclaws on the inside of their front legs. They are easy to identify as they are far further up the leg than your dog’s other toes and they are only loosely attached. With some dog breeds, such as Saint Bernard’s, you will notice that these dogs will have double dewclaws on their back legs.


Make sure that you check all four of your dog’s legs. 

Nail Grinding

Nail grinding can be used to further trim and shape your canine companions’ nails. However, it is not as common as using clippers. Grinders are great for adding a finishing touch after the nails have been cut with other tools.


Most people use them to simply smooth the nails so there are no sharp bits. 

Reward Your Dog!

Once you are finished with the nail trimming process, make sure to treat your dog to a delicious treat for their good behavior! Nothing says, “good job, buddy!” quite like a delicious treat from Bully Bunches. Rewarding your dog after a nail trim will help your dog associate the experience as something positive and perhaps allow for an easier time next time around!


In Conclusion

Besides the vanity of healthy nails, regular nail maintenance is crucial to your dog’s health. By following the steps in this guide, you are sure to master the technique of nail trimming! Make sure to praise your dog and provide treats for their patience. .Our dogs love to be treated to a delicious 6 Inch Monster Braided Bully Stick! Beware, the Bully Bunches treats are so good, your dog will expect them after every nail trim! Check out more useful dog guides in our Bully Bunches blog.


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