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Nail cutting for dogs, maintenance and how to get the over-long nails to recede back.

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Nail cutting is essential because nails that are too long and resting on the ground can affect the dog’s posture and their movement it can get uncomfortable or sore for the dog, they can cause deformed feet and injure the tendons over an extended period. As the long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts force on the foot and leg structure.

The goal should be to cut our dog’s nails short enough that you can not hear them on your tile floor. In order to get the nails this short without hurting your dog (or making their nails bleed), your goal should be to get the “quick” (vein) to recede.

Since nail trimming can be an anxiety-laden experience for many dogs, start handling your puppy’s feet and trimming their nails when they’re young, so they become accustomed to the process. Some dogs will sit in your lap or on a table while you clip their nails, while others may need some form of restraint.

Tip: You can make the process more fun for your dog by letting them lick peanut butter off a spoon while you handle the nails.

How do I recede my dog’s quicks?

Slowly, consistently, and over time. It took time for them to grow out, and it

will take time to recede them. It takes months, depending on starting length, to recede nails to our goal length. Be patient, and know that it is a marathon, not a sprint, to reach your goal. If you have a puppy, this is why nail maintenance is SO VERY IMPORTANT. You can avoid this hard work by properly maintaining

their nails so that the quick never becomes overgrown.

How do I trim?

If you are using clippers, they are helpful at taking off nail length, but you

will need to follow up with a Dremel or file to get close enough to the quick

to encourage recession. Do not focus on taking off nail at the bottom of the

nail, as that is where the nerves are located, and is your dog’s normal everyday wear and tear. Using the images below as a guide. By doing a traditional cut line (the 45 degree one), the portion of the nail missed is the portion that must be taken off in order to get the dog's quicks to recede. The alternate cut line (the 90 degree cut) works to recede the quick, because you are doing BOTH cuts. The 45 to take length off, and the

90 to take the extra nail hood casing part off to make the quick believe it needs to recede to protect itself. The final product should be close to the quick, leaving the intact blood supply at the tip feeling unprotected, because you took the hood (its protection) off. In 2-3 days, you should have new growth around the quick, repeat the process.

When holding your pets paw firmly, but gently, place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way. Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail.

Choosing your equipment will depend on you and your dog’s comfort level.

We have a list of recommended tools and they consist of different brands of

clippers, rotary tools and files. If your dog has an intense fear of clippers,

consider starting fresh with a file. If you’d like to recede your dog’s nails

further, consider conditioning your dog to a Dremel.

From Left


Grinders are also good for dogs with dark nails, where the quick is difficult to see. The use of a cordless Dremel rotary tool over a traditional nail clipper allows us to keep the nail as short as possible (even helping to work back the quick if their nails have become overgrown) without the risk of pain or bleeding. The other advantage is that the nail is left smooth and rounded; no more scratches from sharp, freshly-cut nails.

Many dogs show concern about the noise of a Dremel the first several uses. You can help desensitize your dog to the sound of the Dremel by: - turning on the tool and placing it near the food dish while your dog eats - turning on the tool and placing it near your dog while you play with their feet, toes and nails - turning on the tool and massaging your dog with the NON-ROTARY end (especially in more sensitive areas such as the neck, legs and underbelly)

To begin, keep nail trimming sessions short; you don't have to do all the nails the first try. It is best to end each session on a positive note, if you can successfully trim one or two nails and your dog still seems comfortable or even intrigued, stop, give a treat and come back to do a couple more nails later. To positively reinforce this style of nail trimming, be sure to give your dog treats only when they are NOT struggling and while the Dremel is still running.

Once your dog gets accustom to this type of nail trimming technique, you will find it can be a much more pleasant experience for both you and your dog!

Clipping Your Dog’s Nails:

There are several types of dog nail trimmers, including scissors, grinder tools specifically designed for dogs. You can use whatever type you are most comfortable with, or whatever works best for your dog. It’s a good idea to have some styptic powder or other clotting powder on hand to stop bleeding in case you cut a nail too short.

For dogs that are extremely fearful or aggressive with nail trims, you can

teach your dog to file their own nails on a homemade scratchboard.

You've got this !!

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