Most dogs wear down their nails
through activity. If they are not worn down naturally, however, they can become
extremely long and damage carpets and upholstery. Excessively long nails can
splay the toes and interfere with traction by preventing the foot pads from
making contact with the ground. Long nails should be trimmed.
Nails are also trimmed to prepare a dog for show. If trimming is done twice
a month, the quick (the bundle of nerves and blood vessels inside the nail)
will recede toward the base of the nail and the nail will remain permanently
Some dogs scent mark by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces, usually while raising a leg. Both female and male dogs can urine mark. Dogs who urine mark might do so in a number of situations, including while on walks, when in their own homes and yards, and during visits to other locations. A dog must be at least three months of age to urine mark.
Dogs with dewclaws must have these nails
looked at frequently. Dewclaws are remnants of fifth toes and are found high on
the inside of each foot. In many breeds the dewclaws are removed shortly after
birth. In other breeds, such as Briards and Great Pyrenees, the presence of
dewclaws is required by the breed standard. These nails do not contact the
ground and thus can grow around in a circle and pierce the skin. Dewclaws should be
trimmed regularly. This is particularly true for dogs with dewclaws on the rear
legs. If you have a puppy with dewclaws, it is important to get her used to
having them trimmed, even though trimming may not yet be necessary.
Some nail clippers for dogs have two cutting edges, while others of the
guillotine type have one. Either type is satisfactory. Nail clippers designed
for humans do not work well because a dog’s nails are not flat the way a
Begin by lifting the dog’s paw and extending the nail. Identify the quick
(the pink part running down the center), which contains the nerves and blood
vessels. If the nails are white, it’s easy to see the quick. Be sure to trim
the nail in front of (but close to) the quick. When using a guillotine cutter,
the blade should slice upward from the underside of the nail. If the nails are
dark and the quick is invisible, a good rule is to cut the nails parallel to
the toe pads, so that the nails just clear the floor.
If you accidentally cut into the quick, the dog will feel a brief moment of
pain and the nail will begin to bleed. Hold pressure over the end of the nail
with a cotton ball. The blood will clot in a few minutes. If bleeding persists,
pack with styptic powder or use a styptic pencil. In a pinch, cornstarch will
To use a Dremel tool, you need to put on a sanding drum and carefully pull
any hair away from the nail you are working on. Then carefully hold the tool
against the nail with a slight pressure, removing just a small amount if you
cannot see the quick. Do not push the sanding drum against the foot, just hold
it lightly against the surface of the nail. You need to be careful that the
tool is not getting warm and heating your dog’s toe.
Do not trim back into the quick. Rather, follow the guideline about trimming
nails parallel to the toe pads.
WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"