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How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails Safely

How to Trim Your Dog's Nails Safely

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is an important part of a regular grooming routine. When your dog’s nails are overgrown, they can crack or break causing pain or leading to infection.  Overgrown nails in dogs can also cause difficulties in walking or distributing their weight unevenly among his legs which can contribute to the development of arthritis. This can be a common issue especially for indoor dogs living in Singapore. Dogs who are walked regularly generally do not require nail trimming as often as indoor dogs as their nails are constantly being filed down while they are walking on rougher surfaces outdoor such as concrete sidewalks.

We hope that the following tips will be useful to new or existing dog owners who are not confident in trimming their dog’s nails.

What you’ll need:

  1. Your dog’s favourite treats
  2. Dog nail clipper
  3. Styptic powder, cornstarch or flour

Tip 1: Getting your pooches comfortable

comfortable dog How to Trim Your Dog's Nails Safely
Image Source: Chris Lester | Flickr

This step is very crucial as you do not want to nurture a fidgitive dog when it comes to nail clipping.

The best way to get your dog comfortable with the nail clipper is when they are still puppies. Sit down with your pup a few times a day and allow them to smell the nail clipper and tap the clipper to your pup’s nails gently. Talk to your pup in an assuring and gentle voice to let them know there that the nail clipper is not a threat. Keep yourself calm so that he will receive your calm energy.

Always remember, if you’re feeling nervous, they are able to sense it.

Tip 2: Reward

reward dog How to Trim Your Dog's Nails Safely
Image Source: Scott Barron | Flickr

Have your dog’s favourite treats ready at all times. Reward your dog during the nail trimming session and at the end of it. This helps to associate nail clipping with positive reinforcement such as treats and praises. Yes, don’t forget to praise them for allowing you to trim their nails!

Tip 3: Have styptic powder, cornstarch or flour on standby

styptic powder How to Trim Your Dog's Nails Safely
Image Source: Melissa Wiese | Flickr


Have styptic powder readily available. Should styptic powder be unavailable, you can substitute it with cornstarch or flour. This is very useful in stopping the nail from bleeding if you cut too close to the quick. Just take a pinch of the styptic powder or cornstarch and press it against the quick. Hold it there for a few seconds and the bleeding should stop. Do not feel bad if it happens. Even the most experience groomers make such mistakes.

Tip 4: Cutting the dog’s nail

When cutting your dog nail, be sure to hold their foot firmly but gently. Have your nail clipper angled at 45 degree and clip off the nail slightly away from the quick as shown in the diagram below. If you’re afraid, you can start by clipping the nails a little at a time.

nail chart

Lastly, you may like to use a nail filer to file own any sharp edges so your dog doesn’t scratch you.

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Noren Ng

Crazy dog person at Nekojam, obsessed with shetland sheepdogs and her dog; Kooky. She looks forward to jogging and long walks with Kooky every weekend because she also love cakes and ice cream.

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