How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails

Trimming Your Dog’s Toenails

People often come to us at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital simply to have us trim their dog’s toenails.  Often it’s because the pet just will not let them do it at home.  But often it’s because they do not know how to do it or they have made the nails bleed when they’ve tried before.

We are very happy to trim your pet’s nails, but if you want to do it at home yourself, here’s a quick run down on how to do it.

Begin by assembling the equipment you will need, namely nail clippers and styptic powder. It may also help to have a second person to help you out. The helper can hold your dog close to him, keeping the dog still, and can help steady the leg and foot being trimmed. Check the trimmer blade to be sure it is clean and sharp. Keep styptic powder close at hand.

Dogs With Clear (White) Nails

On a dog with clear nails, you can see a pink line running down the center of the nail. This is called the quick, and will bleed if cut into. On dogs with more opaque white nails, the quick just appears as a darker line. The cut should be made well in front of the quick to avoid bleeding. Cuts should be quick and clean. Resco guillotine clippers make this easy – simply squeeze the clipper handle firmly.

Dogs With Black (or Dark Brown) Nails
The trim is made the same way on black nails; the main difference is that the quick is not easily seen. Begin trimming conservatively. Look at the area you’ve just trimmed. It should appear white. As you trim further back, a small black dot will appear in the white area. This indicates that you are near the quick and should not trim further.
What To Do If You Trim Too Far

Sooner or later, you may “quick” your dog, which means that you have trimmed too far back and your dog’s nail begins to bleed. First of all, don’t panic. Getting upset and frantic will only further upset your dog. Grab a small amount of styptic powder and apply it directly to the bleeding spot. Pack it on there pretty good – this will stop the bleeding. It may take a minute for the bleeding to stop entirely. If you have quicked your dog, wait at least an hour before bathing him or doing any other activity that involves wetting the foot that was quicked. Washing away the styptic powder too soon or exposing the site to warm water may cause it to begin bleeding again.

The best way to prevent quicking is to trim conservatively, and trim often. Use the opportunity to check your dog’s feet and legs for burrs or thorns caught in the fur. Check the pads for cuts or abrasions. And of course, remember to give lots of praise and a treat when you’re finished!

If this sounds too scary for you to try, just call us at 903-839-7235 and we’ll be glad to schedule you an appointment to do it.