How to Cut Long Dog Nails

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Are you too afraid to “quick” your dog that you just let their nails grow long? Does your dog get angry during nail trimming sessions? We’ve got you covered!

Nail cutting, whether it’s in kids or dogs, is an event usually associated with too much anxiety and drama. However, don’t overlook the importance of nail trimming despite natural abrasion caused by surfaces. 

Find out why you should keep your dog’s toenails short and learn how to cut long dog nails. Look for our quick tips and tricks and what to do if you accidentally cut your dog’s quick.

cut long dog nails

What’s Inside Your Dog’s Toenails

The quick is a soft cuticle in the center of their nail which can be easily located as a pink color if your fur baby has light-colored nails. It contains blood vessels and nerves, so it will cause pain and bleeding if you accidentally cut through this part.

Meanwhile, on a black claw, the gap between the sensitive and insensitive part is the chalky and white part, as seen on the image on the right. 

Untrimmed claws usually have a notch below the tip of the quick. This usually indicates the safe part to cut them. 

Watch this video to see how to find the quick on black dog nails:

Why You Should Keep Your Dog’s Toenails Short

Short toenails in dogs are not only a sign of proper hygiene but also their overall well-being. First of all, long toenails result in painful feet. When they contact the hard ground, it pushes the nail back up into the nail bed, putting pressure on the toe joints or forcing the toe to twist to the side.

Another reason why you should keep them short is that the quick grows with the nail. In some cases, when the nails are too long, the quick may lengthen to the tip of the nail. This means you won’t be able to trim much of the nail without risking pain and bleeding. 

Lastly, all animals rely on information from nerves in their feet to navigate through the world. In the wild dogs would run on a variety of surfaces to hunt and this would naturally keep their nails short.

Their toenails only touched the ground when they were climbing up hills. This means that their posture would adjust accordingly and they lean forward over their forelimbs to climb the imaginary hill. 

This posture is also called “goat on a rock” because it brings their paws closer together under their body. Normal neutral posture is a nice show dog “stack,” with vertical legs like a table.

So, keeping your dog’s nails short will help with proper posture and prevent associated health conditions.

Cuting Long Dog Nails

How to Cut Long Dog Nails

First, you’ll need the right equipment. The only real tool you’ll need is nail clippers, but you can ready some treats to keep your furry fellow still while you trim their nails.

You should also keep some corn starch handy for if you accidentally clip too short.

It is important to use only the scissor type nail clippers as the guillotine-style clippers usually crush the toe. If your dog is a large one, you may use large clippers but small-sized ones are always more recommendable. 

Handle your dog’s paws often and introduce the clippers frequently without trimming first. This is the part when you’ll use lots of praises and treats.

Then, hold your dog’s paws firmly but gently. Cut the nail below the quick at a 45-degree angle, taking off small amounts at a time. Remember to keep clipper blades almost parallel to the nail.

Stop trimming the nail when you see the white inside with a small dot of black in the center. 

Watch this video for a visual guide! 

Accidentally Cutting the Quick

Don’t panic if you accidentally cut through the quick. You didn’t cut through the major artery so your dog won’t bleed to death unless they have an underlying bleeding disorder.

Sprinkle some corn starch so that the nail bed will clot. Be aware that paw discomfort may cause your dog to start chewing his or her foot, so it might be a good idea to get some socks for your dog’s paw while they are still recovering from this accidental cut.

Tips and Tricks When Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Here are other tips you may make use of to make trimming much easier!

  • Learn about positive reinforcement methods, like training your dog to see clippers as “neutral” objects through exposure and rewards. 
  • Never squeeze their toes because it will hurt them. Use your fingers to separate the toes while holding the paw gently.
  • Create a schedule to trim your dog’s nails and put it on the calendar so you won’t forget. For maintenance, cut every two weeks. To shorten, cut every week. 
  • Use scissors to remove excess toe hair instead of clippers so they won’t dull easily. 
  • If nail clippers don’t work, entrust them to a professional dog groomer who can take control of your anxious dog. 
  • If this doesn’t work, you can also try a nail file or a grinder. However, the sound of the grinder can also cause them to be nervous. 
  • Some vets are willing to sedate or anesthetize your dog to trim those nails, so try talking to your vet about it. 

Cutting long dog nails is often forgotten as a very important part of keeping your dog well-groomed. If you let them get too long, walking will become very painful for them. 

Keeping your furry fellow’s nails as short as possible only takes patience, about an hour or so each week and some simple tools. Your dog can finally be comfortable again when they are walking with good posture. 

Check your pooch’s nails now to see if they need some trimming or not!

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