Trimming Your Dogs Nails | Do it Yourself or Seek Help?

An often overlooked aspect of pet ownership is trimming your dog’s nails on a regular basis. Even if you take your dog for frequent walks on hard surfaces, some animals are particularly light on their feet and do not receive the benefit of ground-down nails from these excursions. A good way to know whether it is time for pedicure for your pet is if you can hear its nails clicking on a hardwood surface. Options for this task are discussed here.

Should You Trim Your Dog’s Nails Yourself?

If your dog is not shy about having his or her paws handled, it might be a wise decision to save money by performing the nail trimming yourself. This option is mostly preferable if your pet has white or light colored nails, as the blood-filled quick is easier to find. However, if your dog is especially finicky about its paws or you do not feel comfortable with the possibility of nicking the quick (it happens to everyone at some point), it may be best to leave the job up to professionals.

If you want to give home nail trimming a try, the first step is to choose the proper type of nail clippers. For small dogs, a guillotine-style set works great; while for larger pets a scissor-style is better. Alternatively, if you are not comfortable clipping your dog’s nails, you can purchase a nail grinder instead which simply files your pets nails down, like a motorized emory board. Next, identify the quick. This will look like a red or pink band. For dark-nailed dogs, the quick will become visible as you trim, with the appearance of a gray oval in the center of the nail trimming.

When clipping your dog’s nails, do so at a 45o angle, as opposed to straight across. Only trim small portions at a time, and stop when you are within half a centimeter of the quick, or the gray oval appears. If you do happen to nick the quick, apply styptic powder immediately to stop the bleeding.

Other Options

If trimming your dog’s nails at home is not the right option for you, there are three additional choices: a veterinarian, a groomer, or the pet store.


Many veterinarians will trim your pet’s nails during its annual exam for a low cost; however, scheduling your pet for just a nail trimming during a busy day might not make you and your dog very popular. If your dog is aggressive or difficult to handle, though, scheduling a nail trim with your veterinarian may be your only option.


Many groomers offer nail-only treatment, along with additional options such as nail painting and moisturizing. The drawback is that this is often more expensive than the veterinarian’s office, and it can be a hassle to schedule an appointment if your pet needs a trimming between grooming appointments.

Pet Store

Another alternative is the pet store. This option is convenient and the cost is typically comparable to that of a groomer. Most pet stores that offer grooming also allow drop-ins, and have large windows that allow you to observe your pet’s behavior during the appointment.