The Wokingham Paper

PETS & VETS: My dog’s nails need clipping, what should I do?

Nail clipping without the pain Picture: St Vincents

Many dogs do not like having their feet touched or nails clipped and as vets we often get asked to clip dogs nails or for advice.

First of all start young. Get puppies used to you handling their feet and the sound of nail clippers. Do this in a relaxed calm environment with rewards. Start off with only a few nails at a time.

While your puppy is getting used to nail clipping please only take off the very tips. This will help to avoid the quick which will be painful if you catch it.

We also want to avoid this in older dogs.

If their nails are clear you can see the quick as a pink section in the nail.

However many dogs have black nails. In this case usually lining up the clippers with the bottom of their pads and clipping at this level keeps you away from the quick. 

Unfortunately, some dogs will have long quicks. Especially if their nails have become very long. If you do catch the quick the first thing to do is not to panic. Keep calm and reassure your dog.

Quicks can seem to bleed a lot if they are caught but it is usually only a minor injury.

You can apply pressure to the end of the nail with a cold flannel or cloth to help the blood clot. This can take 2-4 minutes.

Make sure your dog does not disturb the clot for up to half an hour afterwards. 

If you are clipping your dog’s nails at home you can get powders, pens and sticks which are clotting agents and will stop the bleeding faster when applied, with pressure, to the nail, although they can sting slightly.

It is advisable to have one of these in your dog first aid kit.

If you have tried either of the above and your dog’s nail is still bleeding please phone your vet.

St Vincents Wokingham

Some dogs will not let their owners or even vets clip their nails as they can get very distressed by the process.

Increased pavement walking or using nail files can sometimes help reduce how often their nails need to be clipped. However, when they need to be done we can try giving them anti-anxiety or calming tablets before seeing us. This helps to take the edge off and relax them for the process.

Unfortunately for some dogs they may need to come in and have a full sedation for nail clipping.

If you would like to chat about any of these options please phone your vets.

Claire Turner is a Veterinary Surgeon at St. Vincents Veterinary Surgery, a family-owned practice providing personal care for all your pets in and around Wokingham

St Vincents

Claire Turner is a veterinary surgeon at St Vincents Veterinary Surgery in Wokingham, an independent practice offering personal care for all your pets. The team are available to discuss any questions about your pet’s health, and you can also arrange a tour of the practice and meet the team by calling us on 0118 979 3200. For more information visit or find us on Facebook.

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