How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails At Home

  • Difficulty


If you want a happy, healthy dog, knowing how to trim your dog’s nails is vital. But giving your pet a pedicure can be intimidating at the best of times. Luckily, help is at hand. This beginner’s guide to well-trimmed pet’s nails covers all the basics, from how to prepare Dremel’s electric pet nail grinder to paw handling and what angle to work at. You’ll learn how short you can go without hurting your pooch, giving you some much-needed confidence while grinding. Go on, have a go and discover that perfecting your pet’s nails doesn’t have to be stressful.

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Let's go - step by step

Video instructions


Prepare the Electric Pet Nail Grinder

The Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Tool.

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Is this your first time using Dremel’s Pet Nail Grooming Kit? Just take it out of its box, insert batteries and you’re ready to go. If you’ve used it before, you may want to clean it first or replace the sanding disc. This is how to prepare the tool for use:

  • Remove the nail guard.
  • Pull the mandrel down and remove the old sanding disc.
  • Pull the mandrel down again while attaching the new sanding disc.
  • Open the grey section of the nail guard, clasp it shut around the mandrel and screw it into place.
  • Slot the transparent part of the nail guard into place and turn until it clicks.

Find a Comfortable Position to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

"Before you start trimming your dog's nails, get in a comfortable position and make sure that you can firmly grip the paw and have it in full view.  "

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Before you start trimming your dog's nails, find a comfy spot for both you and the dog. Position your dog in a way that ensures you can reach all its paws easily, without having to twist its legs. Try the sofa, for instance. Place a towel on your lap and have your dog put its front paws on the towel. This way you can firmly grip the paw and have it in full view as well. Some owners find it easier not to sit opposite their pet, but to face in the same direction instead. By experimenting a little, you’ll discover soon enough which position works best for you and your pooch.


Introduce Your Pet to the Electric Nail Grinder

Familiarise your pet with the electric nail grinder.

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Before you start your pet pedicure, introduce the dog to the electric pet nail grinder and the task at hand. Start by gently touching its paws. If your pet is okay with that, follow it up by giving the paws a little rub. Let the dog sniff and touch the tool for a minute, while you pet it and offer reassurances. Then turn the tool on a few times without trimming any of your dog’s nails yet. This will familiarise him or her with the humming sounds and the vibrations the tool makes. That’s one brave dog, ready to be groomed.


Determine How Short You Want the Nail to Be

When trimming your dog’s nails, make sure to never cut into the pink, live part of the nail called the quick.

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Next up, examine your dog’s nails carefully. Locate the pink, live part called the quick, where the nerves and blood vessels run. Cutting into this part causes your dog to yelp in pain and the nail to bleed, so you’d better stay well clear. If your dog has black nails, the quick can be hard to see. Instead, find the spot on the underside of the nail where it separates out into a triangular shape with two outer ‘walls’. Cut the nail up to this point and you should be safe. Aim for a fairly straight result, removing the pointed tip so the nails no longer touch the floor when the dog stands.


Turn on the Tool and Start Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

When trimming your dog’s nails with the Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Kit, hold the tool at a 45-degree angle.

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Hold a paw firmly with your non-dominant hand. Press gently on the toe to separate it and make the nail stand out. Switch the tool on; the low setting is best for maintaining short nails, while the high setting (if your dog will allow it) works wonders on long nails. Hold the tool at a 45-degree angle, rest the paw pad on the guard and touch the nail to the sanding disc. The angle means you’ll follow the nail’s natural shape, while the guard keeps your dog’s fur out of the way and protects your pet in case it won’t stay still. Don’t press the nail down too hard; let the tool do the work for you.


Have Little Breaks During Pet Nail Grooming

Have little breaks when trimming your pet’s nails.

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Want your dog to stay comfortable during the pet nail grooming session? Have little breaks in between. As grinding creates friction and friction creates heat, a break will prevent the sanding disc from heating up too much and causing a burning sensation in the nail. A break now and then also gives you a moment to reassure and praise your dog. Offer him or her a well-deserved cuddle or a tasty treat. Use the break to study the nail closely. How much more needs grinding away? Are you staying well clear of the pink quick? Once you’ve determined how much more needs trimming, off you go again.


File the Dewclaws’ Nails Too

It’s best to remove the nail guard of your Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Tool when trimming dewclaws’ nails.

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All dogs have dewclaws, or thumbs, on their front legs. Some dogs have them on their hind legs too; sometimes they even have double dewclaws. These extra toes are found a little higher up on the leg and their nails also need trimming. In fact, the dewclaws’ nails can grow quicker than your pet’s other nails, so keeping a close eye on them from week to week is vital. It’s best to remove the nail guard when trimming dewclaws’ nails, as they can be a little harder to reach. Trimming the nails is straightforward: just file away the pointed tip.


Check the Length of Your Pet’s Nails after Trimming

Check the length of your pet’s nails after trimming: they’ve been sufficiently trimmed when they no longer touch the ground.

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Once you’ve given all nails on all paws a good filing, it’s time to check your handiwork. Are your dog’s nails still too long, or is it time to bring the pet nail grooming session to an end? Have your pooch stand on all four legs on a flat, hard surface and inspect the individual nails. They have been sufficiently trimmed when they no longer touch the ground.


Praise Your Pet’s Good Behaviour

Reward your pet after the nail grooming session.

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For most dogs, nail trimming is a stressful event, so getting to the end of a successful pet pedicure is a real accomplishment. Well done! Show your dog that you’re proud by offering lots of praise and cuddles. It’s a good time for a dog treat too. By ending the pet nail grooming session on a high note, your dog may even start the next one with a little less trepidation.