How to clip your dog’s nails

isolated dog


  • Always make sure your dog is relaxed and comfortable before you cut their nails.
  • Only use special dog nail clippers, not scissors or human clippers.
  • Give your dog treats during and after clipping to make it a positive experience.
  • If you struggle to clip your dog’s nails at home, ask your vet for advice.

Step by step guide to clipping your dog’s nails

Step 1 – Wait until your dog is relaxed

  • If your dog is relaxed, clipping their nails will be easier for you and a more positive experience for them.

Step 2 – Preparation

  • Always use a pair of dog nail clippers. Never use scissors or human nail clippers - they aren’t designed for dog claws, so are likely to squash them and cause them to split.
  • Hold your dog’s paw in a position that is comfortable for them, but also easy for you to see their nails. You might need someone to help you if your dog is wiggly!

Step 3 – Look for the quick

  • The quick is the part inside the claw that contains blood vessels and nerves. It’s red or pink so it’s usually easy to see in light-coloured claws.
  • This part of the nail will bleed and be painful if it is cut.
  • You should cut a few millimetres away from the quick.

Step 4 – Continue with the other nails

  • Continue to clip the other nails, not forgetting the dew claws.
  • If a nail bleeds, don’t panic - you can dip it in cornflour to help it clot or hold some cotton wool on it until it stops bleeding.

Step 5 – Give your dog a treat

  • Treats will help your dog find nail clipping a positive experience.

If your dog gets stressed at any point, you should stop, give them a treat and try again another time. If you are struggling to clip your dog’s nails at home, speak to your vet for advice.


How do I cut dark nails?

Estimate where to cut based on looking at the quick in another similar (but light-coloured) nail. If all the nails are dark, ask your vet to show you where to cut.

How many nails does my dog have?

Most dogs have five nails on their front feet and four on their back feet. Some have five on all feet because they have dew claws on the back as well as the front. 

Published: August 2022

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.