Trimming Your Dog’s Toenails & What To Do If They Are Cut Too Short

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It is a good practice to get into the habit of trimming your pet’s toenails at least once a month when they are still puppies because their nails grow so fast and are sharp and pointed which is easier for their nails to become caught in carpeting. This could cause a toenail to be ripped right off right down to the cuticle. Give your dog’s toenails manicure regularly to keep the toenails trimmed down to prevent any accidents from happening plus this will teach your puppy at a young age to tolerate nail trimmings in the future.

Dogs cannot retract their toenails like cats can do so it is a good practice to keep your dog’s toenails trimmed before their toenails have a chance to start curling under. When the toenails on a dog do begin curling under, this makes trimming the toenails a much harder task. The toenails can become embedded into the paw and will cause much pain for your pet when the toenails are trimmed off.

 The nail of an animal is composed of a hard toenail which is on the outer surface of the claw itself and then there is a spongy material part to the interior of the toenail and this material is called the quick. The quick supports the blood vessels and nerves of each entire part of each claw. Your dog can feel this pain and the toenail will bleed if you cut the toenail too short and cut into the pink area. This is similar in the way when we cut our own fingernails too close to the nail bed. It hurts a lot.

You can find the right pair of nail clippers from your local Animal Clinic or at PetSmart. Ask which nail clipper is right for your pet which depends on the size of your dog.

To trim dogs or cat’s toenails, place the clippers right at the point where the nails start to curve. You do not want to go past the pink part. On cats, the pink part of the nail is easily seen as well as  on some dogs with white nails. Cats normally do not need a toenail trim unless the cat is scratching up the furniture or the entire family.

 If you do get a toenail to short, and the nail starts to bleed, here is what you can do:

 Make a paste of flour/water (1tsp flour and enough water to make a paste and stir until it becomes thickened and then take a Q-tip and dip it in the paste and dab on the nail & wait a few seconds to see if the bleeding has stopped or you can take a bar of ivory soap and place some on the tip of the nail, but a lot of times using a bar of soap can sting. You can also use baking soda or cornstarch and all you do is dip the toenail that is bleeding into a dab of cornstarch or baking soda. Do not wipe the excess blood off of the toenail before you dab it into the cornstarch or baking soda. The toenail will have a bloody glob of what ever you dab the toenail but just leave it there and don’t brush it off. Hold the dog in your lap for a few minutes to see if the bleeding has stopped; if the toenail is still bleeding repeat the process. You can also buy a box styptic pencils to keep on hand at your home just in case you do ever trim your dog’s toenails too short and they bleed. Using styptic pencil is the fastest & easiest way to stop a dog’s toenail from bleeding.

But if you do not have a supply of styptic pencils at home, another very quick and easy way to stop a dog’s toenail from bleeding if the quick is cut and to prevent a mess in your house and on your carpeting from bloody toenails, is too rinse the entire paw off under warm running water and then take a couple of paper towels and dry the paw off some. Then take a soft wash cloth and dip it in warm water and rinse it out and then take the wash cloth and take the paw of the toenail that is bleeding and wrap the warm cloth around the entire paw and sit down with your dog in your lap and hold gentle pressure on the paw and toenail for at least 20 minutes. This will stop the toenail from bleeding. I use this method if I trim a little too close on my dog’s toenails and it works every time.

Whenever you do trim your pet’s toenails, remember to trim their dewclaws as well. The dewclaw is attached to the leg only by loose skin and dewclaws are found on the inside of the front legs and occasionally can be found on the hind legs as well. Unlike front dewclaws, rear dewclaws tend to have little bone or muscle structure to them so when the animal is standing, it does not make contact with the ground.. The dewclaw can usually be bent away from the leg so that you can fit a guillotine type trimmer over the tip of the dewclaw. Many pet owners will have their puppies dewclaws removed not long after they are born which is far less painful for the puppy than to wait until the puppy is a month or two older. Dewclaws on puppies & dogs serve no real purpose they are just there.

If you do cut the toenail to short, don’t panic. Your cat or dog will be fine and the toenail will eventually stop bleeding on its own even though the amount of blood that goes along with trimming a toenail too close is a lot, the bleeding does subside.


I worked as a veterinary technician for 10 years & learned a lot of valuable information.


 I am not a licensed vet but I did learn many useful tips and information during my years working for one. The above information is intended for educational purposes only and shall not take the place of seeking professional medical advice from a licensed veterinarian.


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