When you should start cutting a puppy’s nails

There are so many things to remember when you get a new puppy. You need the right food, suitable toys, a proper bed, and a knowledgeable vet. There are also a lot of little details vital to the health and well-being of your puppy. But don’t worry, we can help you sort everything out.

One of those little details is when to cut your puppy’s nails. It may seem intimidating at first, but you can handle your puppy’s grooming right down to nail trimming if you choose to take it on. Here’s what you need to know about when to clip puppy nails and how to do it well.

Puppy on rug looking up
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Get the right tools

Everything begins with the right tools. Different tools are suitable for different trimming jobs. Trimmers with one blade are best for small nails while two cutting edges help with large dog nails without crushing or causing cracks.

Puppy toenails are often softer than those of adult dogs, so regular nail trimmers may be too unwieldy. Ask your veterinarian for advice on the types of trimmers that could work with your specific breed of dog.

Styptic powder will help stop bleeding immediately if you happen to cut too far into the nail. It’s a must-have when you’re learning to cut nails, especially if you’re trying to cut the nails of a wiggling puppy!

Finding the quick

The nail quick is where your dog’s nerve endings and flesh meet the nail portion. If your dog has light-colored nails, it’s easy to see where the quick begins as a darker portion of the nail. If your dog has dark nails, the rule of thumb is that the quick starts just below where the nail begins to curve.
It’s essential to find the quick because if you cut your dog’s nails too short, it can be painful. Your vet can also be an excellent resource for identifying where the quick is on your dog’s nails.

How to trim your puppy’s nails step by step

Person cutting a dog's back nails
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This is the way experts recommend you cut puppy nails:

• Hold your puppy’s paw firmly in your hand and place your thumb on top of the foot to help spread the nails out.
• Snip nails decisively in one stroke, taking care not to cut too deeply into the quick of the nail.
• Repeat with each nail.
• File the ends of each nail to prevent snags and to help round them to protect floors and fabrics.
Cutting nails is a relatively quick job if your dog is used to it. If your dog isn’t used to it, use treats and praise to help things go more smoothly.

How to train a puppy to stay calm

Puppies don’t naturally love having their nails clipped, so it will take time and patience to help teach your puppy to stay still during the process.

• When you first get your puppy, begin handling his paws as much as possible so he will get used to it.
• Take the time to show your puppy the trimmers and provide treats whenever the clippers are around your puppy.
• The first time you cut your puppy’s nails, have plenty of treats nearby to reassure him. This helps him associate clipping with only good things.
• It’s fine to start with just a nail or two, but your puppy needs to learn that all nails must be clipped and that you won’t stop. Increase your nail clipping to all nails at once over time.
• Focus on the positive. Getting angry with your puppy or punishing him for not cooperating immediately is going to make things difficult later on. Stick with the positives.

Some tips for the best results

When you cut puppy nails there are a few best practices. Use these tips for best results.

• Everything starts with you. Your calm mindset can ensure that your puppy feels calm, too. Go slow and try to avoid getting upset.
• Stick with the positive. You should ignore negative behaviors and give your puppy only praise to reinforce the good things.
• Start as soon as possible. The younger your dog is, the more likely he will accept nail trimming long term.
• Take your time. Your dog will need to learn good habits, and it’s essential that you take the time to reinforce those habits. This is the time for patience and consistency.

Do I need to trim my puppy’s nails?

Your puppy’s nails must be trimmed because they can cause injury if left too long. The nails naturally wear away for animals in the wild, but your puppy will need some help. The nails could alter the way your puppy walks and cause issues over time.
If you don’t feel comfortable with cutting your puppy’s nails, you may want to ask your veterinarian or groomer to do it. Regardless, you need to ensure that your puppy’s nails are trimmed properly.

Taking care of your puppy’s nails

Puppy running on green grass
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Whether you choose to trim your puppy’s nails yourself or have your veterinarian or groomer do it, your puppy will feel a lot better with regular nail maintenance. How often you trim will depend on the nail growth, but if your puppy’s nails are “clicking” on the floor regularly, it’s time for a trim.

Use these tips to help you handle this part of your puppy’s grooming. With time and patience, you could find yourself trimming your puppy’s nails easily and efficiently. Find the right tools and allow your puppy time to adjust. You’ll both be happier!

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