How to Cut Puppy Nails

Don’t forget about your puppy’s toenails. If they’re left untrimmed, they can make things uncomfortable for you and your family.

Trimming your puppy’s nails takes some care. Your veterinarian can give you a good idea of when and how to cut them. You may even just want to let your veterinarian or groomer do the job.

But, if you decide to do it yourself, here are some tips to get you started.

  • Puppies can get skittish around new objects and experiences. To lower your dog’s fear or excitability, introduce him to the process when you bring him home. That means massaging and playing with his feet, and showing him the trimmers.
  • Ask your veterinarian or groomer to show you the ropes and ask them to recommend a good pair of clippers to use.
  • There’s always a chance you might accidentally cut his nails a little too short. Be prepared by having some styptic powder on hand.

Trimming His Nails

  • Gently hold and squeeze your dog’s paw, which will help extend the nail.

If your dog has clear nails find the "quick" by looking for the pink line coming from the base of the nail. The quick is a vein in the nail that feeds the nail bed. Do not cut this!

  • On darker nails, it can be more difficult to detect where the quick begins. NOTE: If your dog has darker nails, make sure you get appropriate instructions before you start clipping.
  • Wait until your puppy is still before you make a cut.
  • Start conservatively. It’s better to cut a little twice than cut too much and hit the quick.
  • If you cut a nail and it bleeds, immediately apply some styptic powder and a small amount of pressure to the end of the nail.
  • Your puppy probably won’t be used to being held in a position like this, so make sure to give him some praise for holding still and being a trooper.

Keep Them Short Naturally

Regular exercise is a good way to help keep your puppy's nails shorter. When he’s ready, going for walks on sidewalks will keep them shorter as his paws brush against the concrete. Keep in mind, this won’t necessarily keep them 100% trimmed, but might allow you to go longer between cuts. 

Make sure to ask your veterinarian or groomer if you have any questions.

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