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4 Supplies You Need When Trimming Your Dog’s Nails At Home

Trimming your dog’s nails is an essential grooming routine for all dog owners.

Overgrown dog nails aren’t just loud but they can also play an important role in your dog’s health and comfort.

In fact, not trimming your dog’s nails can lead to injuries and pain for your best friend. 

While the idea of trimming your dog’s nails at home may seem scary if you’ve never done it before, don’t worry, with a little bit of practice, a few nail trimming tips, the right nail trimming supplies and a whole lotta TLC, you can do this! 

dog nail trim at home

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Supplies Needed To Trim Your Dog’s Nails At Home

If you’re trimming your dog’s nails at home you’ll need more than just nail cutters. 

I always think it’s better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough. 

Besides a good pair of nail trimmers you should also have on hand:

  • Styptic powder like Kwik Stop
  • A clean towel, gauze or paper towel
  • Treats (good dogs get good treats)
  • An extra person (if possible)

No one wants to clip their dog’s quick but unfortunately, it happens quite a bit which is why it’s always good to have your styptic powder close by. 

A clean towel is good to have to hold pressure on the nail if it does happen to bleed. 

Good dogs get good treats!

Treats are the perfect way to positively reward your dog when you’re trimming its nails. 

What Type Of Nail Trimmer To Use For Your Dog

Not all nail trimmers are created equal and not all dog nails are the same.

Purchasing the proper style and size nail trimmers for your dog will help set you both up for success.

scissor-style dog nail clippers

scissor-style clippers are good for small dogs and puppies

For small dogs or tiny puppies, it’s a good idea to buy scissor-style clippers.

For medium and large dogs with thicker nails, you’ll need large nail clippers.

Types Of Dog Nail Clippers

  • Guillotine clippers. These dog nail trimmers have a hole that you poke the nail through. They stay sharp longer but are harder to use and not my personal favorite.
  • Scissor-style clippers. These look like small scissors with divots toward the end of each blade. These are best for small dogs and puppies.
  • Plier-style clippers. Look similar to scissor-style clippers, but they have a spring and they are stronger and better for large, thick nails. (Millers Forge are the best IMO)
  • Nail grinders. These are like a Dremel and they file your dog’s nails smooth while and also making it harder to cut the quick.
nail trimmers for big dogs

plier-style clippers are good for large dogs with thick nails

When to Trim Your Dog’s Nails At Home

It’s important to keep track of your dog’s nail growth by checking them at least once a month.

For longer nails, you might need to trim them every 2 weeks so that the quicks recede over time.

A good rule of thumb is to trim your dog’s nails once they start touching the ground.

Some dogs that walk on hard surfaces like concrete might wear their nails down naturally but they’ll still need a nail trim from time to time. 

Senior dogs, puppies and dogs that aren’t walking on hard surfaces usually need their nails trimmed more often.

Long nails can be uncomfortable for dogs to walk on and can actually affect their joints over time

They can also cause your dog to have less traction when they walk causing them to slip and fall more frequently.

Long nails are also the perfect place for mud and snowballs to stick and if left not cared for, long nails can grow into your dog’s paw pads causing pain and infection.

If you hear your dog’s nails clicking on the ground as they move through the house, it’s probably time for a nail trim!

Where to Trim

The most common question dog owners have about trimming their dog’s nails is where to trim them?

The reason being is that every dog owner wants to avoid the quick in a dog’s nail. 

A quick is a vein in a dog’s nail and when it’s cut, it bleeds a lot. 

If your dog has clear or white nails, the answer is obvious. 

trimming dog nails at home

Cut the nail right before (not at) the quick and always make sure that you’re in a position where you can see the quick.

However, many of us, myself included, have dogs that have black nails.

If your dog has black nails you’ll want to trim a little at a time. 

You can check out our easy-to-follow guide How To Safely Trim Black Dog Nails

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails At Home

So now we’re here.

We know what we need, how to use it and where to cut the nail but now the big question is how do we put it all together and give our dog the best nail trimming experience?

Hopefully, we’ve all been getting our dogs used to having their paws touched since they were a puppy because that’s the best way to set them up for success. 

But if this is your first time trimming your dog’s nails from home and you’re both a little nervous it’s best to start off slow.

Start off touching your dog’s paw and rewarding them with a treat. 

Do this for a few days-don’t rush it. 

Next, introduce the nail trimmers to them. 

Let them sniff the trimmers and reward. 

Once that is going well, touch the nail trimmers to your dog’s paw but don’t trim. 


The next day trim one of your dog’s nails and reward. 


It’s a slow process at first but well worth it if the end goal is you being able to give your dog a positive experience!

Oh No! My Dog’s Nail Is Bleeding!

If you end up cutting into your dog’s quick and now it’s bleeding, stay calm.

You have styptic powder right next to you so just grab a pinch and gently hold it on the bleeding nail.

If you don’t have Kwik Stop on hand, there are a few home remedies you can use to stop your dog’s bleeding nail.

Grab some flour, baking soda or cornstarch.

Grab a pinch and hold it on the nail for at least 1-2 minutes.

If your dog’s nail will not stop bleeding after 20-30 minutes, contact your veterinarian. 

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Siemme Edmonds

Saturday 24th of February 2024

This has been a most informative and helpful article- the best one in explaning how to cut and WHY. Thank you so much for sharing! (My dog thanks you, too!)

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