Posted by Pet Honesty on

How to Trim Dog Nails That Are Overgrown

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Trimming your dog’s nails is a key part of their grooming routine. Neglecting to do so could result in discomfort, injury, and in rare cases, permanent damage. 

When it comes to dog nail maintenance, there are a few things that are important to know. The nail is made up of a hard outer shell and a pink quick. The quick runs through the core of the nail and supplies blood. If the quick is cut, it can cause bleeding and discomfort, so the goal is to prevent the quick from becoming too long in the first place. Regular nail cutting can help with this.

If you notice that your pup’s nails are overdue for a trim, it’s vital to understand how to safely cut them down. Before cutting your own dog’s nails, it’s wise to consult your vet or groomer so you take into account any health risks your dog may have.

How to Trim Dog Nails That Are Overgrown: 5 Tips for Success

Trim overgrown dog nails.


  • Prepare your pup: The more you familiarize your dog with the feeling of getting their nails trimmed, the less likely they are to resist. If you have a puppy, experts recommend starting the nail clipping process early so they become comfortable with the experience. If you have an older dog, you can start priming them a few days or weeks in advance by playing with their paws and gently touching their nails so they are familiarized with the feeling. You can even build up to lightly touching the grinder or clippers to their nails and give them a treat or praise when they comply. Ultimately, it’s best to avoid springing a nail trim on your pooch all of a sudden when they’ve never experienced it before. This can make the process extremely anxiety-inducing for you both.

  • Use grinders: Groomers recommend using a nail grinder rather than cutters or scissors, because you’re less likely to cut into the quick. Grinders sand down the nail rather than cut it, preventing overcutting and likely leading to a less painful, or even painless, experience.
  • Create a distraction: If your pooch gets anxiety when he knows it’s time for a nail trim, some dog owners swear by giving their dog peanut butter on a spoon while they cut their nails. This can create a diversion and distract your pup during the process. You can also give your dog a calming chew prior to trimming their nails to help them feel more relaxed. Pet Honesty’s Hemp Calming Chews contain natural ingredients like chamomile, ginger root, passion flower, and hemp oil to help relieve stress and anxiety. For dogs with extreme cases of anxiety, we recommend our Premium Hemp Calming Chews, providing maximum strength for calming support.
  • Trim slowly at a 45-degree angle: Touching the grinder or clipper to the paw lightly and starting at the very tip of the nail, trim along the slant of the nail growth at a 45-degree angle. Trim only 1 to 2 millimeters at a time. This can help you trim the nail shorter without hitting the quick and causing discomfort. Once you start to see a tan-colored oval, that means you’re nearing the quick and can stop trimming.

  • Create a nail cutting routine: Just like every dog has an ideal grooming cadence, every dog should have a nail trimming routine. Ask your groomer how often you should trim your dog’s nails. Oftentimes, groomers will recommend trimming their nails every 3 to 4 weeks.

If you’re not comfortable trimming your dog’s overgrown nails by yourself, a professional groomer will be able to do so safely, and may even be able to teach you how to do it moving forward. No matter how you choose to maintain your dog’s nails, it’s important to avoid letting them get overgrown in the first place and help your pup live a hygienic and happy life.