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DOG / grooming

How to Cut Your Dog's Nails

Learn how to give a safe pedicure for paws

Overview

Why is clipping my dog’s nails important?

Long claws can cause trouble for your pet. They can scrape against sidewalks, break against floors, spread your pup’s feet too widely or even grow into your dog’s footpads.

What tools do I need?

There are two kinds of nail clippers for dogs. For puppies and small-breed adult dogs, choose the “scissor” type. For large-breed adult dogs, choose the “guillotine” type. (Yeah, that’s really what it’s called.)

Okay, how do I do this?

First spend a few days touching your dog’s feet. Once dogs get used to the feeling of having their paws handled, you can attempt a trim.

Hold your dog’s foot and gently push your thumb down at the base of each nail — this pushes the nail further out. Trim the nail at a 45-degree angle, away from your dog, so that the cut is flush with the floor when they walk.

Err on the side of leaving the nail too long. You don’t want to cut the quick — a blood vessel inside the nail.

If your pup’s nail bleeds, keep a first-aid kit with a coagulant (blood clotter) handy.

Dogs also may have a “dewclaw” — basically, a thumb — growing further up their leg. Trim that one just like the others.

If you’re more comfortable with a pro handling this task, fair enough. Your vet can trim your dog’s nails or the academy-trained groomers at the PetSmart Grooming Salon can take care of it.

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