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How To Safely Trim Your Dog’s Black Nails

Trimming your dog’s nails from home is easy when you know what to look for and how to safely go about it.

Trimming your dog’s nails can be a delicate task especially if your dog has black nails instead of white nails.

With white dog nails you can easily the pink quick but with black nails, you’re left guessing where the quick might be.

The trick with black nails is that you need to first find where the nail’s quick is. 

how to safely trim your dog's black nails

Inside of a dog’s nail, there is a grey dot.

When a dog has white or clear nails, the quick is easy to find because it’s red.

When a dog has black nails you can’t see the quick so you’re left guessing where that dangerous quick is.

The quick in a black nail is grey, if you’re close to it, you will be able to see it if you’re paying attention. 

When you see it, you want to stop trimming. 

Still a little nervous?

Here are a few tips for trimming your dog’s black nails.

Introducing the Dog to Nail Trimmers

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Before you begin trimming make sure that your dog is comfortable with you handling their paws.

It’s always a good idea to start this when they are young.

Gently grab their paw and massage it a little and put it back down.

Repeat this step a few times.

If your dog shows any signs of being comfortable you can try to offer them treats for good behavior or you can even use some homemade peanut butter or spray cheese and set a few squirts in front of them or on a wall or cabinet.

There’s even a product called a Lick Lick Pad that you can stick to a wall and spread peanut butter on it.

If your dog still seems super uncomfortable or agitated I would suggest stopping right there and just let a vet tech or veterinarian trim the nails.

The struggle isn’t worth you getting bit or your dog getting hurt.

Start Trimming The Nails Slow

If your dog seems good, start trimming their nails one at a time.

Just take off small amounts or even slivers.

Don’t lob off half their nail.

Keep shaving away until you see the beginning of a grey oval.

When a dark oval is starting to appear this is where most people should stop.

A few more slivers and you will be at the quick.

One more trim here and the dot will be a lighter grey, almost whitish in some nails.

identifying the quick in black dog nails


This is what it will look like if you keep going.

The Grey Dot Is Where You Should Stop Trimming Your Dog’s Black Nail

This is the farthest that you should trim.

If you can’t contain yourself and must keep going you’re going to hit the quick like this and the blood will begin to flow.

This was 1/4 off a sliver after the above picture. (this was not done intentionally and my dog didn’t even flinch when it happened because it was such a small amount BUT if you go further it’s going to hurt)


How To Safely Trim Your Dog's Black Nails

A Few Tips On Trimming Black Nails On a Dog:

If your dog has white and black nails you can use the white nails as a guide to where the quick may be on the black nails but keep in mind that all nails are different and the quick may be longer or shorter on other nails.

Cut your dog’s nails from underneath and not from the top.

If you don’t see a grey dot for whatever reason and you’re getting nervous either apply pressure to your dog’s nail and see if they react or just stop cutting.

You can use an emery board or Dremel to finish the job off.

Make sure your nail clippers are sharpened. Blunt clippers will crush the nail and make trimming much more difficult.

If you hit the quick and the nail is bleeding, don’t panic, you can easily stop the bleeding. Read this article here to stop a dog’s bleeding nail.

If your dog has nails that are overgrown, just go slow and take a little off at a time. 

You don’t even have to do it all in one day, you can back tomorrow. 


Other posts you may find interesting:

5 Easy Ways To Stop A Dog’s Bleeding Nail

Homemade Paw Wax

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