How to trim your dog’s dark nails safely and efficiently

by | Dog Care |

Trimming your canine companion’s nails can be nerve-wracking for both you and your pooch… but it doesn’t need to be.  We have some tips to help you get prepared, and to keep the experience positive. Here are tips to trim your dog’s dark nails, and make it a safe and positive experience.

Nail it 

Start with the basics. Dogs’ dark nails are more challenging to trim than the lightly coloured ones. By checking the underside of the nail, you should be able to see the lighter fleshy part – the quick. This contains the inner nerve and blood vesselsYou want to trim above that point to avoid causing your dog any pain or discomfort. 

Put on the brakes 

If your pup is terrified or very nervous, you might want to postpone the nail clipping session. Take some time to counter condition or desensitize the dog. Watch this helpful video by  Dr. Sophia Yin 

Be prepared 

Assemble what you will need for nail clipping. Sharp nail trimmers are essential. The style of clipper – guillotine or scissor – doesn’t matter as long as they are sharp. Replace guillotine style blades frequently. Sharp trimmers prevent painful nail crushing. Also have on hand a Styptic pencil or cornstarch, in case you trim a nail too far and nick the quick. 

An adequate supply of dog treats will help distract and encourage a pleasant experience. 

No Slip sliding 

A rubber bath mat or a yoga mat for your furry friend to stand on is helpful. It will be more comfortable to stand/sit on and will prevent slipping and sliding. 

trim your dog's dark nails, nail groove
Nail groove.
Grab a friend  

Enlist the help of a family member or friend who is comfortable with your pooch. Nail trimming is easier as a two-person task. One person can provide low stress restraint as needed and offer bits of treats, while the other does the nail clipping. 

Take Paws 

No matter how well you know the dog, keep your face well back from the dog during nail trimming. Gently, but firmly hold the paw. Give your pup time to get comfortable. Gently reposition as often as necessary. 

Keep it small 

Small clips are better than taking a big pieces off of a nail.  Keep the clips small. Check the nail after every clip until you can see a small shiny dot. That is the quick of the nail. You want to stop when you reach that point. Getting too close will cause your dog pain and bleeding. 

Keep Pawsitive  

Take short breaks during the trimming for both you and your pup, to prevent frustration.  

Lots of encouragement, praise and some treats will keep the nail trimming experience positive.