Regular grooming is essential for maintaining your dog’s overall health and well-being, and trimming its nails is crucial. Properly trimmed nails help keep your dog comfortable and prevent injuries resulting from overgrown nails. 

Nail trimming can be daunting for many pet owners, as the fear of cutting into the sensitive “quick” of the nail may lead to pain and bleeding. Nevertheless, mastering this skill with patience, careful attention, and practice will ensure your canine companion’s comfort and safety.

To help you in this process, this article will provide dog owners, like you, with valuable insights and a step-by-step guide on to safely and effectively cut a dog’s nails.

Why Nail Trimming Is Important

Nail trimming is crucial to maintaining a dog’s health and well-being. Regular nail trims can prevent various issues, such as discomfort and infections. If a dog’s nails appear long or brittle, or there is a constant clicking sound when they walk, it is a clear sign that trim is necessary.

When dogs spend ample time outdoors, running on hard surfaces like concrete and blacktop, their nails gradually wear down, reducing the need for formal nail-grooming sessions. 

However, regular nail trimming becomes even more important for canines that spend most of their time indoors or on softer surfaces.

There are several reasons why nail trimming is crucial:

  • Comfort and Mobility: Long nails can cause discomfort for dogs, potentially negatively impacting their posture and movement. Overgrown nails can force a dog to walk awkwardly, leading to pain and potential joint issues.
  • Preventing Injuries: Overgrown nails are more susceptible to splitting, breaking, or tearing, resulting in painful injuries and infections. Moreover, long nails can curl and grow into the paw pad, causing severe pain and possibly requiring surgical intervention.
  • Protecting Your Home: Long nails can cause damage to your floors, carpets, and furniture, as well as scratch human skin if the dog jumps or plays with people.

Handling the dog’s feet and introducing nail trimming at a young age is essential. This will help your dog feel more accustomed to the process and reduce anxiety during nail trims. 

Using appropriate tools and techniques can also prevent accidentally cutting the quick, which contains blood vessels and nerves, making the process less stressful for you and your dog.

Tools for Cutting Dog Nails

1. Guillotine Clippers

Guillotine Clippers

Guillotine clippers are a type of dog nail trimmer with a small hole for the dog’s nail to be placed through. As you squeeze the handles, a sharp blade slides across the hole, cutting through the nail. 

This type of clipper is suitable for small to medium-sized dogs with thinner nails. One advantage of guillotine clippers is that they are less intimidating for dogs. They don’t make loud noises or create vibrations. However, they might be less effective for dogs with thick or tough talons.

2. Scissor Clippers

Scissor Clippers

Scissor clippers are favored by most veterinary professionals due to their efficiency in handling thick and tough nails. These clippers work like scissors, with two sharp blades that cut through the nail when the handles are squeezed together. 

Scissor clippers come in different sizes, so choosing one that’s manufactured for small, medium, or large dog breeds is essential. The key to using scissor clippers effectively is to make clean, decisive cuts to avoid crushing or splintering the nail.

3. Grinding Tools

Grinding Tools

Grinding tools, like Dremel or nail grinders specifically designed for dogs, offer an alternative to traditional clippers. These tools use a rotating grinding bit to gradually wear down the dog’s nails. 

Grinding tools are often battery-operated or connected to a wire. They can be an excellent choice for dogs with thick nails or those nervous about cutting.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cutting Dog Nails

1. Prepare the Clippers

Before starting, it’s essential to have the right nail-trimming tool. Choose a pair of nail clippers designed specifically for dogs. There are two main types: scissor-style and guillotine-style. 

Scissor-style clippers are better for larger dogs with thicker nails. In contrast, guillotine-style clippers are generally suitable for smaller dogs. You can also use a Dremel, depending on what you’re most comfortable to use for your dog.

2. Make Your Dog Feel Comfortable

Find a quiet and comfortable space for you and your dog. This helps reduce distractions, allowing your pup to feel more relaxed. 

Holding them in your lap or placing them on a stable surface may work best for small dogs. For larger dogs, ask someone to hold or sit with your dog.

3. Introduce the Clippers to Your Dog

It’s essential to let your dog become familiar with the nail clippers to ensure a positive experience. Show your canine the tool, let it sniff the clipper, and give it treats for positive reinforcement.

4. Determine the Ideal Length of the Nail

Inspect each nail to determine how much to trim. Ideally, the nail should be trimmed just before the quick, which is a pink area within the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves. In dogs with dark nails, shine a light to see the quick.

5. Start Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Hold your dog’s paw firmly but gently, and place the clipper at a 45-degree angle to the nail. Position it to trim the tip without touching the quick. For guillotine-style clippers, insert the nail into the hole and squeeze the handles to cut the nail.

6. Slowly Shorten Your Dog’s Nails

Trim just small bits of the nail at a time, being cautious not to cut the sensitive part of your dog’s nails. Frequently check your progress to ensure you’re not taking off too much.

7. Have In-between Breaks and Offer Your Dog Treats

Take short breaks between trimming each nail, and offer treats to your dog to reinforce positive behavior. This helps make the process more enjoyable for both of you.

8. Don’t Forget the Dewclaws

If your dog has dewclaws, the small, extra claws on the inner side of their paws, ensure you also trim them to prevent discomfort or overgrowth.

9. Inspect Your Dog’s Nails After Trimming

Once all nails have been trimmed, examine each one closely to ensure the cuts are clean and even. If you notice any sharp edges or uneven cuts, use a nail file or a Dremel to smooth them out.

10. End the Session By Giving Your Dog Treats and Praises

After trimming, reward your dog with treats and praise for its cooperation. This positive feedback helps make future nail-trimming sessions go more smoothly.

Care for Overcut Nails

In some cases, you might cut the nail too short, causing it to bleed. If this happens, you can use styptic powder to help stop the bleeding. The powder has anti-hemorrhagic agents that work by contracting small blood vessels and promoting clotting.

Below guides you on how to apply styptic powder on your dog’s bleeding nail:

  1. Apply the styptic powder to the bleeding nail immediately.
  2. Hold the powder against the nail for a few seconds to allow it to take effect.
  3. Monitor your dog’s nails closely for a few minutes to ensure the bleeding has stopped.

It’s important to remain calm during this process, as your dog might become frightened or stressed if they sense your anxiety. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after using styptic powder, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian for further guidance.

Maintaining a Regular Nail Trimming Schedule

A consistent nail trimming schedule is essential for your dog’s health and comfort. Long nails can lead to several issues, such as pain, discomfort, and difficulty walking. 

A good practice is to trim your dog’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks, depending on its breed, lifestyle, and growth rate of its nails. If nail trimming is something you cannot handle, consider letting professionals do it for you. 

Likeable Pets offer practical mobile grooming services in Singapore, allowing you and your dog to stay at home and skip the traffic just to go to your local pet salon. 

Our grooming packages include all essential steps to ensure your dog stays top-notch in maintenance, especially in nail care. 

Message us via WhatsApp for more details.

Customer Testimonials

Likeable Pets is known throughout Singapore thanks to its awesome grooming services offered to countless devoted pet owners. These customers are all continuously satisfied with the outcome of their pet companions after being groomed by Likeable Pets’ skilled groomers. 

See what people say about Likeable Pets through their Facebook page reviews.

Apart from ensuring that your dog’s nails are kept clean, healthy, and short, Likeable Pets also covers the coat maintenance of various adorable pets in the country. 

Take a look at a few amazing transformations below!

Likeable pets customer review

The image above shows a cute Shih Tzu whose coat is groomed in preparation for the summer. The cut gives it a cleaner look compared to its previously shaggy appearance. 

maltipoo dog grooming

Meanwhile, here is a striking cream Poodle. Its coat is trimmed a bit shorter, which helps in exhibiting its compact physique. The face is much neater, showcasing its alluring features, such as its dark, round eyes.


This Poodle showcases a shocking transformation. It sported a wooly coat that’s heavily prone to matting. This was changed to a more manageable coat condition, with bell bottoms and the standard Poodle cut to make it look more appealing. 

Final Words 

Sometimes, seeking professional help from Likeable Pets is the best approach to trimming your dog’s nails. This is ideal if you think you’re not capable of doing the job properly yet. Our professional groomers can also care for your dog’s coat, ears, teeth, and anal glands while at it!