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One of the most difficult things to do in the upkeep of your pet’s health is trimming their toenails.

Big dogs seem especially harder to keep controlled during this process.  Even if you start out doing this easily when they are puppies, they are still reluctant to hand over that paw to your care on their behalf.

Be sure to take a look at this great step by step guide from the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine here:’s-claws#39;s-claws

Things to remember:

Use the right tools for the job – familiarize yourself with the tools for nail trimming and determine which ones you want to use for your process with your dog.  The AKC has an overview of some of the clipping tools here:


Be careful not to trim too much.  The quick (the blood supply for the toenail) grows along with the nail, so if your dog’s toenails are long and have not been maintained, you will have to catch up to an ideal toenail length over a period of time by trimming a small amount each time you are able to trim.  The quick will recede naturally as the toenails are shortened – so you can safely trim a small amount of nail once a week until at the proper length – and then you can maintain every two weeks from there.  You will be able to see the quick if your dog has light colored nails, however, this will not be visible in dogs with dark colored nails.   Keep a wet Qtip and some styptic powder handy when you are doing your nail trimming just in case you hit the quick – it will help to stop the bleeding more quickly.

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A few tips that you can try to help you with the nail trimming process:

The treat method – Give your dog a special treat a few minutes in advance of the clipping process.  (Make sure that is not the only time you treat them as you don’t want treats to be solely associated with nail trimming.)  While your dog is distracted by the treat, try to trim a little bit off of each toenail.


Slow conditioning – Clip a small amount off of one nail successfully and then immediately take your dog out for a fun walk.  Do this each day right before a walk until you have clipped all toenails, then start over and try for two nails followed by a walk, etc.  The hope is that your dog will come to see the nail clipping process associated with a positive reward and will be less likely to continue to struggle with it over time.


Quick Re-conditioning – Take a look at this video to learn how reconditioning works and see if it helps you in your process. Find a second person to help you with distracting the dog with treats while you go through the conditioning steps for trimming the toenails.

If all else fails, give our team a call at Longview Animal Hospital and we can schedule an appointment for your pet for a nail trim!  We’re here to help you.