How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails and Paw Pads

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Are you tired of hearing nails clicky-clack on the hardwood floors? Are your dog’s paws starting to look like hairy hobbit feet? Or, would you rather your dog to walk easier, feel better, and get less dirt and fewer mats between their toes?

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of giving your dog an easy PAW-dicure at home, including tips, tools, techniques, and tricks to get the job done right.

How To Trim Your Dog'S Nails

What if your dog doesn’t like having their toes touched? First, whether you have a young puppy or an older dog, you’ll want to immediately start implementing these 7 Steps to Raising a Dog that Enjoys Being Groomed. Most importantly, begin introducing your dog to the sights, sounds, and sensations of nail trimmers and clippers at a young age. Start slowly and make every experience with grooming tools positive for your dog. If you’re wrestling with your dog to trim their nails, it won’t be a good experience for either of you.

Clipping Your Dog’s Nails

As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to clipping your dog’s nails, start early and trim often. Andis Grooming Educator and professional groomer, Anne Francis, says most dogs go into the groomer every 6-8 weeks and that’s too long between nail trims. Anne says she trims her own dogs’ nails about once a week.

That means pet parents will either need to head to a groomer for a nail trim appointment between regular visits or start trimming their dog’s nails at home. Luckily, with the right tools and techniques, it’s easy to do. 

If your dog is already comfortable having their feet handled, you’re ready to get started!

What you’ll need:

Nail Clippers
Nail Grinder
High-Value Treats

If you choose to do nail trims on an elevated surface, like a countertop or table, make sure to use a non-slip mat to help your dog feel secure. Remember, never leave a dog unattended on an elevated surface.

How To Trim Your Dog'S Nails

Every dog owner should already have styptic powder or another clotting agent in their pet first aid kits. While avoiding the “quick” (the blood vessel that runs through the nail core) is a goal during nail trims, accidents happen even with the most seasoned pro groomers. If this happens, a quick dab of styptic powder will immediately stop any bleeding. Plus, with regular and frequent nail trims, your dog’s quick will recede, allowing you to trim the nail shorter and shorter over time.

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Ready, Set, Trim:

The position you use for nail trims is just as unique and varied as every dog. Some dogs do best on a table, others prefer to be held, and some will simply flop over onto the floor and take a quick nap while you snip away. Just remember to keep your dog comfortable and never pull their legs or feet into an unnatural position.

With your Andis Nail Clippers, start by trimming very small cuts of the nail at a time to avoid cutting into the quick. Although some dogs have clear nails that make the quick easy to see, this is especially important for dogs with black nails. Continue cutting little-by-little until you first see the white nail pulp, and eventually a small black dot in the center of the nail. Stop cutting when the black dot—the beginning of the quick—is visible.

Follow-up your nail trim with a nail grinder to smooth rough edges and round out the nail. We recommend the Andis 6-Speed Cordless Nail Grinder for its ease and quiet operation. Additionally, the Cordless Nail Grinder is a great alternative for pets that hate having their nails clipped, it’s painless, fast, and safe—no more clipping too close to the quick! (Use coupon code DOGPOST10 at to save 10% on orders of $50+ plus Free Shipping on any order over $99!)

Remember to reinforce your dog’s good behavior with those high-value treats! Once all your dog’s nails are trimmed, it’s time to clean up their paw pads.

Getting a Handle on Hairy Paws:

If your dog is one of the lucky breeds that doesn’t sprout long hairs between his paw pads, congratulations—you’re already done with your PAW-dicure! Many of our beloved furkids, however, will require a little paw pad cleanup, too.

How To Trim Your Dog'S Nails

In addition to keeping your dog from slipping and sliding on slick surfaces, which can reduce confidence or result in injury, keeping paw pads trimmed reduces dirt and grime buildup, keeps paws clean, and prevents painful mats from forming. Best of all, with the right tools, it’s super easy.

What you’ll need:

Slicker Brush

First, choose a pair of clippers that are appropriate for your dog’s size and coat type. The Andis Tool Selector will help you to pick the perfect clippers for your unique dog. Or, use an amazing all-around clipper like the Andis Pulse Li5 Cordless Clipper that’s designed for all coat types and perfect for paw pad trims at home. (Use coupon code DOGPOST10 at to save 10% on orders of $50+ plus Free Shipping on any order over $99!)

Using your slicker brush, gently brush the bottom of your dog’s paw, lifting hair from between their paw pads so it’s easy to trim. Lightly glide your clippers over the pads, trimming long hair so that it’s even with the pads.

Then, with your clippers in their shortest setting, carefully spread your dog’s paw pads apart and clip away hair between each pad.

In the video below, Andis Grooming Global Educator and professional groomer, Anne Francis, demonstrates trimming both a dog’s nails and paw pads, plus gives great advice for beginners just starting an at-home PAW-dicure routine:

Be sure to visit Andis Grooming College for answers to commonly asked questions, how-to videos, and step-by-step guides to grooming your pets at home.

While you’re there, use coupon code DOGPOST10 for 10% OFF orders over $50 and FREE SHIPPING on any purchase over $99! (Offer valid through 12/31/2020, unlimited uses).

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