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How to clip dog nails: All the DOs and DON’Ts

How to clip dog nails: All the DOs and DON’Ts

Clipping your dog’s nails is something that every dog owner needs to do, but the majority just dread it. It is an essential part of grooming, but we all feel so intimidated by it (at least I was!). So the question is, how to clip dog nails without any fear and more importantly without your dog screaming in your ear.

Truth be told, learning how to clip dog nails is actually a very simple procedure. That is if you know how to do it the right way! There are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that helped me a lot, and I want to share them with you.

How to clip dog nails

Clipping your dog’s nails is a stressful experience for you, but what do you think about how your dog feels at that moment?! You coming at him or her with a strange object is scary! Clipping nails is a very anxiety-laden experience for many dogs. This is why it’s best to start young, so your dog can get used to it.

Extra tip: You can bribe your dog with a little bit of peanut butter! Just let them lick some off of a spoon while you clip their nails.

A guide on how to clip your dog's nails the right way
How you should clip your dog’s nails the right way

The right tool

Before you start cutting your dog’s nails you first need the right tool. Experts advice is that you should always use “scissor” type clippers.

This is because the so-called Guillotine style clippers actually crush the toe, which is painful. But there are some other tips you might want to consider too:

  • Never put the whole nail in a clipper.
  • Use small size clippers for better control. Only giant breed dogs will need large ones.
  • Keep your tools sharp: either replace or sharpen your clippers regularly.
  • “Pedi-paws” type grinder: Smooth out your trim afterward with a rotating emery board.
  • File only the insensitive nail around the top.

How you should clip your dog’s nails

By now we’ve all understood that you can’t just take any clippers and start cutting your dog’s nails. It’s not that easy. What you should do is first trim your dog’s nails outside or in a well-lit room. Also, remember to cut just a little bit, so you don’t hurt your dog. It’s better you cut just a little bit over the course of 10 days, than cutting off too much and having your dog bleed.

  • Keep clipper blades almost parallel to the nail! You should absolutely never cut across the finger!
  • Please don’t squeeze your dog’s little toes – that hurts actually!
  • Hold your dog’s paw very gently and use your fingers to separate the toes.
  • If your dog has hair around its toes please use scissors to remove excess toe hair. Be careful while doing this, you don’t want to hurt your dog. You need to cut the hair because it could dull your clippers real quick!
  • If you cut too much of your dog’s nail and they start bleeding. Stay calm. It’s okay. Stop the blood flow with styptic powder you can apply with a cotton swab. Also, make sure you prevent any dirt from getting in contact with the wound so it doesn’t get infected. Your dog might be scared now, so maybe give them a nice treat.

How to trim extremely long nails

Learning how to clip dog nails and clipping them is hard enough, but what if your dog has extremely long nails. You can watch this video to learn how to do exactly that. If you’re still confused, consider talking to your vet.


It might seem to you that you will never learn how to cut your dog’s nails, but be patient. Yummy treats and peanut butter will be your best friend in order to keep your dog calm and happy while you’re cutting their nails. Remember to never cut too much, it’s better you cut just a little bit every few days than cutting off too much and having your dog hurt and bleeding. If you have any other concerns never hesitate to contact your veterinarian and ask for help. He or she might have just the advice you’re looking for.