Trimming your dog's toenails can be a chore, even a battle, but it's something that needs to be done every few months. If your dog runs around on a lot of hard surfaces or digs frequently, that cuts down the need to cut them frequently. However, if they spend most of their time on carpet or other soft surfaces, then they will need to be trimmed every few weeks.

Depending on the dog and their experience with nail trimming in the past, they can be quite impossible when it comes to nail trimming. Some dogs lick their feet as a way to relax themselves, so when you start handling them, they can get very defensive, even a bit nippy. If your dog has a tendency to bite, you may want to invest in a muzzle for this. Though if the dog has known your for a long time, they're less likely to bite very hard.

If you are new to dog nail trimming, you may want to talk to your veterinarian for a little guidance on nail trimming.

If you cut the nail wrong and cut the nerve, not only is it extremely painful for the dog but it bleeds like a stuck pig. It's likely your dog will remember that moment forever and put up even more of a fuss when you try to do it again.

If you neglect to trim the dog's nails, the nerve inside will grow longer with the nail. When you do decide to trim them, you'll hit the nerve and the nail will still be too long. The diagram below shows the process of having to trim an overly long nail.


dogs nails

As you can see, it's a painful and bloody process to get the nail back down to an acceptable size, so see this as a reminder to trim your dog's toenails frequently.

For doing the trimming you can use a variety of clippers or grinders, they all get the job done. I recommend the guillotine type or a nail grinder. Those work the best. I've found that the scissor type clippers tend to dull quickly and that can make it painful for the dog if it bends the nail instead of clips it.

To trim your dog's nails:

  1. Hold the foot firmly, make sure that your dog won't wriggle around while you are trying to make the cut.

  2. Trim off the end of one of the nails. Usually you can see where the new nail growth is, but if the nail feels spongy while you are cutting it, stop. That is the nerve.

  3. If the nerve is cut, apply a little light pressure to stop the bleeding. I've found that usually dogs will take care of it on their own though, as long as you don't mind getting a little blood on the flor as they run away.

  4. You can clip the nails one foot at a time if the dog is fussy. Take a break in between and do an activity the dog loves then try again.

  5. Make sure to clip the dewclaws (the ones on the side of the foot) if your dog has them. They don't usually touch the floor so they can get very long, very quickly.

And with that, you are done! I hope your dog behaved! If they got through it all right, give them some positive reinforcement and a treat to encourage good behavior when you do it again.