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How to Cut Dog Nails at Home

Paw being held in a human hand while another hand uses nail clippers to trim its nail.

If your dog’s nails are not naturally short, trimming them at home is not a difficult task. However, it can be frustrating and difficult if you’re not sure of what you’re doing.

There are many tools you can use to trim your dog’s nails, including clippers, files, and nippers. It is best to use clippers or nippers that are designed for pets, as human clippers are likely to be too large and difficult to use.

If you are using clippers, it is best to use a pair that easily opens and closes with the press of a lever. These will make it easier to control the pressure applied while clipping.

While trimming your dog’s nails, you may want to put them in a cozy or basket, so they stay still while you work. You can also wrap their feet in a small towel, so they don’t move around so much.

To find out how to do this task yourself and save, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can do this task safely and not hurt your dog.

Dog’s need their nails cut, but do you know how? Check out our post “How to Cut Dog Nails” to learn more.

DIY Dog Nail Trimming

There are some basics you need to start with before you can do this task yourself. Trimming a dog’s nails is not just grabbing the scissors and cutting away. There are some things you need to know about first before you tackle this chore.

First, watch out for the quick- Cutting into this will hurt your dog and cause him or her to bleed.

Second, learn a restraint method- Not all dogs will allow you to cut their nails.

Third, pick the right tool to use- The tool will make or break your DIY effort

Fourth, have some treats ready- When your dog allows you to do this task, make sure to reward them for their obedience and good behavior.

Fifth, be gentle- Don’t force this chore on your dog. Sometimes you have to take your dog to a groomer as they will fight too hard and make life miserable for you.

What Can I Use at Home to Cut My Dog’s Nails?

Black and red scissor type nail clippers

The trick to doing this chore right is picking the best tool for your dog. You do not need large nail clippers if you have a small dog. Pick the tool that fits the size of your dog and still is sharp enough to handle cutting their nails.

There are two types of nail clippers, and both use scissor action. For small dogs, the ones that actually look like scissors are the pair to use. Then for larger dogs, the bigger clippers are the right tool.

Or if you prefer, for either size of the dog, you can go to a dog nail grinder. This may be best when you are inexperienced as it is easy to cut the quick with the clippers.

Nail grinders let you take a little off at a time and you can easily stop before you get to that boundary. It just takes time to get your dog used to the noise of the grinder.

Can I Trim My Dog’s Nails Myself?

Close up of a person trimming a dog's nails with nail clippers

In most cases yes, you can. If you have a small dog, say from Beagle on down to Yorkshire Terrier trimming your dog’s nails yourself should not be that difficult. Small dogs are easier to control, and their nails are not that thick so cutting them is easier.

Sometimes large dogs are just big babies and they do not mind having their nails cut. But whether your dog is big or small you have to watch out for the fighters. These dogs will fight to their last breath to keep you from trimming their nails.

They are hard to control, and you would need to learn some restraint techniques to make sure those nails are trimmed. If you want to do this task yourself, make sure to start doing it when they are young. Puppies are easier to control, and they adapt a lot faster than adult dogs do.

Have a dog who doesn’t want their nails clipped? Check out our post “How to Cut an Uncooperative Dog’s Nails” to learn more.

How Can I Cut My Dog’s Nails Without Clippers?

Person using a rotary tool to trim a dog's nails

There are different options you can use instead of clippers. Here are a few choices to consider:

Human Nail Clippers

These work best when your dog is still a puppy. Their nails are not as thick or as strong as adult dog nails. You would have to stop using them when your puppy gets older.

Nail File Pads

This is a specially designed pad you put on the floor. Then your dog walks across it and files its own nails. It is not sure how effective these pads are.

Human Nail File

Easy to use, makes no noise and it will trim those nails. However, this is a time-consuming tool and may not be best for all situations.

Nail Grinder

Probably the best of the alternatives. They are quick to use and only need gentle pressure. However, it may take some time to get your dog used to hearing the noise and feeling the grinder at work.

Some Final Words

Red colored dog paw with black nails on a white surface

DIY your dog’s nails are okay, and it can be a great bonding time between the two of you. That is if you do it right. It will take practice to do this task. Just do not be afraid when your dog resists. That is normal for many dogs.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.