Dear Tabby,

We are trying to save money and one place that we’re cutting back is on dog grooming. We’ve been doing well with bathing our dogs ourselves, but cutting their nails is still daunting. Any tips on making this chore easier on both us and our dogs?

Trepidation About Nail Trimming in Timbergrove

Dear Trepidation About Nail Trimming,

The idea of cutting your dog’s nails yourself can feel a little scary--especially if you’ve never done it before. For a lot of dogs, their nails are dark in color, so it’s hard to see where the “quick” is on the nail. The “quick” is a heavily nerved, vascular structure in the dog’s nails that can be painful if cut. So, it’s wise to exercise caution when attempting to cut your dog’s nails yourself. But, the good news is that it can be a relatively easy task and it is made that much easier by teaching your dog to tolerate the chore.

Choose your clippers

Make sure you know how the clippers you’re planning to use work before you try them on your dog. There are several different types of clippers on the market, so choose the one that seems easiest for you and your dog to tolerate. The guillotine style clippers have a hole that the tip of the nail goes through and a blade that comes up to slice through the nail. Scissor-type clippers operate just like the scissors that you’re used to using on paper and sometimes require a bit more experience. Some people also swear by a Dremel-style grinding tool that files the nails, as opposed to cutting.

Start slow

If you’ve never tried to cut your dog’s nails before, the key is to start slowly. You’ll want to slowly introduce the nail clippers to your dog and get your dog used to having his feet handled. Many dogs don’t like their feet touched, so this might be a stumbling block for you. But, if you approach this task slowly, knowing that you probably won’t be able to get all of his toenails cut on the first try, you and your dog will handle the situation much better.

Have treats handy

You’ll also want to reward your dog with treats while you introduce him to the clippers and the sensation of having his feet handled. Pick up your dog’s foot and put the clippers near his foot (without actually using the clippers) then give your dog a treat. You might want to repeat this action a few times over the course of several days before you even attempt to clip his nails.

It’s also a good idea to choose a time when your dog is tired or worn out from exercise to try trimming his nails. He might feel more relaxed and maybe won’t care as much about what you’re doing to his feet.

When you’re ready to finally clip his nails, err on the side of leaving the nails longer, rather than shorter so that you don’t cause pain to your dog. It doesn’t hurt to have some clotting powder on hand to stop the bleeding, in case you accidentally hit his quick. Above all else, be patient with your pooch and understanding that this might not be easy or enjoyable for either of you. And, if all else fails, some services are worth it when dealing with the grooming of your dog. If trimming your dog’s nails proves to be too stressful for you and your dog, consider looking for more reasonably priced nail trimming or stick a few extra dollars aside in your budget each month to cover the cost. It might be worth the extra expense, if it means causing less stress to you both!

Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at

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