How to Trim Overgrown Dog Nails

By Hillary Marshall

Trimming overgrown dog nails requires special attention. If you are not careful, you might trim too much off at once, causing the nail to bleed. When you don't trim your dog's nails as needed, the nail and the quick, or vein inside the nail, keep growing. The goal when grooming overgrown dog nails is to trim the nail back little by little over the course of a few weeks, so the quick will eventually recede to a normal length.

Find the quick of your dog's nail before trimming it. Look carefully at the nail to identify the pink area in the center of the nail. That is the quick. You want to trim above this to avoid bleeding. If your dog has black nails and you can't see the quick, just trim off the tip.

Trim overgrown dog nails little by little. If you attempt to trim too much nail off at one time, it will be painful because overgrown nails are thicker and require more pressure to clip. Trim tiny bits off the tip of your dog's nail. When you see a dark, round, slightly moist disk in the middle of the nail, stop trimming because you have reached the quick.

File your dog's nails gently to smooth any jagged edges left from trimming. Be careful not to file too much or you may expose the quick of the nail. It could several nail trimmings to reach an acceptable length if the nails are overgrown. Don't be alarmed if they still seem long after the first clipping. You have to get the quick to recede before you can trim to the correct length.

Give your dog a treat after you trim each nail. It's best to get your dog accustomed to the trimming by creating positive associations through treats, praise and affection.

Wait about one week and trim and file your dog's overgrown nails again. Every time you trim your dog's nails, the quick will retreat farther toward the nail bed. Once your dog's nails are a normal length, make sure to trim them regularly.