Clipping Your Dog’s Nails at Home

Written on April 24, 2015 by Lauren Parece Hospital: Bulger Veterinary Hospital

Clipping your dog’s nails can be a quick, easy, and stress-free process for you and your pet if you keep some of the following tips and guides in mind. The following is an instructional video on how to perform a nail trim on your dog at home.

  • Some dogs are as lovely, laid back and docile as Lucy in our video, but for those that aren’t, patience, treats and a little skill can make this routine activity easier. For some owners, nail trims are simply too difficult, in these cases, seek help from your veterinarian or groomer.

    Always have your supplies ready to go. Choose a good nail clipper that you are comfortable using. There are several different types, our hospital tends to use the scissor type clippers you will see in the video.


    Above: The quick is seen here as the pink area. The cut line is on the white of the nail, below the quick.

    Above: The quick is seen here as the pink area. The cut line is on the white of the nail, below the quick.

    The nail is shaped like a curved cone. Inside that cone contains the nerve and blood vessels ( called the “quick”). It is important to cut below the quick. Cutting the quick will cause some bleeding. With white nails, you will see the quick as the pink area close to the nailbed. If your dog has black nails, shine a flashlight behind the nail and the quick will become visible.


    Gather all your supplies before starting the nail trim. You will need:

    • Nail Clippers
    • An agent that will stop bleeding if an accident occurs
      • In a pinch you can use flour or corn starch
    • A treat! (or many treats)


    It will be much easier if you can find an assistant to hold your dog (watch how our Technician gently holds the dog in our video). There are a few techniques your assistant will want to follow:

    • Hug the dog close to your body
    • Keep one hand gently pressing their head toward your body
    • Slightly extend the leg you will be working on from behind the elbow (or knee depending on the leg)
      • This gives you control over leg movements
    • Be aware at all times, of your dog’s body language. If he or she is starting to become too stressed or agitated, release him or her, give a treat, and take a break. Safety first.


    Once you are all set up and your helper is safely holding your dog, you can start to clip one nail at a time below the quick. If at any time it becomes stressful for your dog or yourself, take a break and praise your pup for getting that far, and then you can pick up where you left off a bit later.

    Always remember your veterinarian or groomer is there to help. Feel free to contact us with questions or to make a nail trim appointment.


    24 Hour Emergency & Specialty

    Boston West Veterinary Emergency and Specialty

    Natick, MA 01760


    Capital District Veterinary Referral Hospital

    Latham, NY 12110


    Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital

    Woburn, MA 01801


    Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital

    Portsmouth, NH 03801



    Lebanon, NH 03766


    General Practice, Emergency & Specialty

    Bulger Veterinary Hospital

    North Andover, MA 01845
    ER: 978.725.5544 GP: 978.682.9905