How To Trim Your Dog's Nails


Cutting your dog's nails can seem a little daunting when you've never tried it before but with the correct tools, and some of your dogs favourite treats, you can master the skill to give your pooch a pup pedicure safely. We would advise only cutting your dogs nails at home if they are comfortable with their paws being handled. Please read all the safety tips about how to prevent the nail from bleeding. Lets get started so you can become a nail clipping pro! 

Below is an diagram of a dogs nail. From it we can see the outer shell and the inner quick. The quick is the blood vessel in your dogs nails. If nails are cut too short this can be painful. It is best to always take your time to prevent any accident or injury. 

Light Coloured Nails

When you trim your dog’s nails, the first thing to do is check to see where the quick inside the nail ends. If your dog has light-coloured nails, you can see the soft, pink tissue in the centre called the quick.

As shown in the image, the quick includes a blood vessel and nerve and is easier to see on light dog nails. You can see this by holding your dog’s paw up to the light. The quick is visible through the nail and looks like a nail-within-a-nail. You must avoid cutting into the quick as it will bleed and causes your dog pain.

Dark Coloured Nails

Dogs with dark nails are different and the first thing you’ll notice is that you will not see the blood and nerve that makes up the quick through the nail. It is important to take your time when doing dark coloured nails as it is harder to notice the quick.

To view the quick of the nail, gently lift your dog’s paw and look at the centre of the unclipped nail head-on.  If the nail has a small dark circle at the centre, it indicates the beginning of the quick of the nail. Do not clip any nail that has a circle in the centre as you’ll be clipping into the quick.

If you do not see the centre-circle, snip off the smallest edge of the nail at 45 degrees. Check again to see if there is an exposed centre-circle. Once you see the dark circle in the middle of the nail, you have clipped far enough. You must not cut into the quick as it will cause your dog pain and bleed.

Top Tips

For small dogs it is best to place them on a table or ironing board and get someone to help you hold them. For large dogs it is best to do this on the floor.

  1. At Underdog, we find it easiest to put your non-dominant hand around the dog and lift the paw. Hold the nail clippers in your dominant hand. 
  2. Pick your dog’s paw up and look at the underneath of the nail to see the quick.
  3. Place the clipper at the very edge of the nail if you do not see a quick.
  4. Hold the trimmer at a 45-degree angle.
  5. Clip only the tip of the nail at a time. Stop. Review before continuing and check to see if you can view the quick.
  6. Hold his paw and nail up to the light and look into the centre of the nail. Check for the quick, which looks like a dark inner circle at the centre of the nail.

What to do if the nail bleeds

    If you cut a nail too short and it begins to bleed, apply Trimmex powder with pressure to the tip of the nail to stop the bleeding, or apply a damp cotton pad. If the nail has bled, keep your dog calm and quiet so that the nail isn’t further damaged with walking or running.


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