How To Cut A Puppy’s Nails

Having their nails cut can make a puppy (and a lot of adult dogs) very anxious, especially if they sense their owner is feeling anxious. Many dog owners are worried they will cut the nail down too far, resulting in bleeding. It is best to cut your dogs nails regularly from being very young so it’s something they are always used to. Following these tips can help both you and and your puppy/dog and results in less accidents:

• Place the puppy’s paw in your hand and hold each toe with you index finger and you thumb.

• Do not squeeze the toe but hold it firmly.

• If the puppy tries to pull his paw away (older puppies) from you, or struggles to get free, give him the ‘No, stay’ command.

• Hold the nail clipper with the other hand. This position gives you more precision and prevents you clipping too short.

• While holding the puppy’s toe (slightly spread all toes by placing your thumb on top of the foot and finger underneath), snip the nails one at a time with short, decisive strokes. Clip right where the nail starts to curve.

• The ‘quick’ usually hasn’t grown past the curve. If it has the nail will bleed when cut. The quick (the vein that runs halfway through the nail) is quite easy to spot in nails that are white or transparent. You do not want to cut into the pink part of the nail as this is full of nerve endings and blood.

• It the puppy’s nails are not clear (they may be brown, grey or black in colour) the quick may be more difficult to spot. You will need to be extra careful and may have to clip on the tips of the nails more often if this is the case.

• If you do happen to nick the quick, don’t panic! It looks worse than it is. The puppy will squeal because it will hurt but it is not an emergency. Use styptic powder or styptic pencil which will stop the bleeding quickly. Give the puppy lots of cuddles and reassurance. You might want to leave the rest of the nails until the next day as they will be extra jumpy for a little while and you don’t want to risk hurting him twice.

• Talk to the puppy gently as you work on his feet so he feels comfortable. When it is done, give him lots of praise, a treat and a short 1-to-1 play time.

• Most puppies and dogs don’t like having the paws touched so it’s important to get them comfortable to this. If you make a habit if holding his paws gently, one at a time, when you are playing or having cuddles with him then he will be used to having his paws handled and won’t find it such a strange experience.

• Getting the puppies used to their feet being touched and nails being clipped from an early age will get them used to being groomed.

• Get someone to help you until you are confident enough to do it alone. Keeping those little paws still is easier with an extra pair of hands.

• Don’t forget to check for dew claws and clip those too.

• You can file any rough areas (of the cut surface) with a dog nail file/emery board to make the nail smoother. You will need to get the puppy used to how it feels gradually (just like the actual cutting of the nails). Some people only use electrical nail grinders to shorten their dog’s nails but that will require getting your dogs used to the sound and the feel of the vibrations of the grinder too. These grinders are to powerful for puppies delicate nails though.

• Most importantly, don’t rush! Take your time and let both your puppy and you get used to the process.