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Caring for your dog’s Nails

Just like humans, dogs have to have their nails maintained. Similar to humans, dogs’ nails can’t be cut too short. There are many differences between dog and human nails, and this article describes those differences and how to care for your dog’s nails.  

Human v Dog nails

Dog nails come in different colors naturally! That’s one of the fun things about dogs, though it can make clipping nails more challenging if they are black. The biggest difference in dogs nails is something called quick. While humans have quick, it stops in our fingers. Dogs’ quick extends into their nails. Quick is made up of blood vessels and nerves, meaning a quick cut can lead to blood and lots of yelping!

How to avoid the quick

The biggest nail grooming tip is to avoid the quick. The quick can be avoided pretty easily on dogs with white, translucent nails. Those nails have clear demarcations where the quick ends (the quick is usually a darker color than the nail). On dogs with black nails, we strongly advise being extremely cautious and only cut or trim the tip as it’s very difficult to see where the nail begins and quick ends. There are two major options in dog nail trimming that are worth considering: dremel or clipper.

Choosing between a dremel and nail clipper

A dremel is traditionally a tool that carpenters and other wood professionals use to carve, route, or cut and sand. It’s challenging to trace the history of dog nail dremeling, but it’s worth noting that dog nail dremels exist! Dremels for dogs are very safe to use; they are essentially an automatic file. The dremel creates dog nail dust, which can easily be swept. It takes a bit to get used to, but it’s very safe, efficient, and usually doesn’t end in your dog yelping. Dremels are also not incredibly expensive, and they can be found online and in most pet stores.


Clipping nails, on the other hand, is an art. There is a reason that professionals charge money to clip dogs’ nails. Clipping a dog’s nail is not a difficult task, but it does take some patience, training, and cooperation. First, decide on a clipper. Again, these are common items that you can find in any pet store or online. Does your dog dislike having her feet touched? How are you going to hold your pup down while you clip her nails? When you clip her nails, what happens if you clip the quick? These are all things to consider and prepare for when clipping your dog’s nails. It’s not a task for the faint of heart as yelping, bleeding, and nail trimmings are all part of the learning curve.

When to choose a pro

A lot of people leave nail trimming and clipping to professionals. This is not a terrible idea. It’s just not a cost-effective idea, and there’s no way to know how those professionals treat your pups while they clip. You know how your dog wants to be handled and managed, and it’s a nice touch to trim and clip your dog’s nails on your own. But, if you hit the quick every time, if you can’t stand the sharp nails that you keep creating, and if you hate to hear your dog yelp and watch her squirm, there’s a good chance the $5-10/month on nail clipping is the right answer.