Today I have a guest blogger by way of an impromptu video. Dr. Leslie Woodcock DVM, is a long time friend of mine (for more than 20 years). She has been our Team Canada veterinarian at most of our international events (WAO, IFCS, FCI) for the past five years. Dr. Leslie is the former owner of Woodcock Veterinary Services, a clinic that specialized in rehabilitation for dogs post surgery or post-injury and helping dog owners with injury prevention. Leslie has also been there every step of the way during Encore’s recent health problems. Her assistance and support has been nothing short of amazing.
Last year Dr. Leslie was at our place evaluating dogs at a workshop when I asked her to give a little lecture on nail trimming for performance dogs. It was a fascinating presentation. In summary; short nails are a key to our dogs rebalancing around an agility course and are critical in our geriatric dog’s long-term health. This presentation is a part of a three-part series I am currently running in my newsletter. If you are not yet a member of my newsletter sign up with the form on the top right of this page and you will be!
Dr. Leslie suggests that our goal should be to cut our dog’s nails short enough that you can not hear them on your tile floor (when I can hear my guys I know it is time to cut nails!). In order to get the nails this short without hurting the dog (or making their nails bleed), your goal should be to get the “quick” (or soft bit that supplies blood to the nail) to recede.
Most people when cutting nails try to cut directly across the dog’s nail (as in the diagram below).
However, as Dr. Leslie recommends the best way to cut your dog’s nails without hurting them AND get that quick to recede is to cut the sides of the nails on angling back.
Cutting nails this way it becomes easier to get your dog’s nails shorter without hurting them as it isn’t YOU the takes off the bottom bit of the nail it is your dog’s normal everyday wear and tear. I don’t know if my diagrams are perfect but Dr. Leslie’s 14-minute lecture sure is, so make sure you listen to it!
Take a look at these before and after pictures of nearly 17-year-old Buzzy. On the left is Buzz before a nail trim, on the right is him after.
Now I never let my dog’s nails get long (as evident in the picture above of four of my dog’s standing at the top of the stairs (Buzz opted out of that picture)). So the differences in these two pictures will not be as dramatic as they could be if Buzz was more of a “typical” 17-year-old dog with claws so long they are starting to curl under the pads (poor dog). But if you look closely you can see the length or angle of Buzz’s paws appears to change slightly from the picture on the left (before his nail trim) to that on the right (after his nail trim). It could just be the way he is standing (both of these pictures I just “caught” Buzz standing) but to me, it appears he is also distributing his weight differently between these two pictures.
Dr. Leslie’s talk is a real eye-opener, be sure to leave her a comment and let her know your thoughts!
Today I am grateful to my friend Leslie Woodcock whose commitment to learning more about how to help dogs is surpassed only by her love of them.
Update: There are further videos on nail trimming that will help you if your dog is not a fan of nails being clipped.
- Help! My Dog Hates His Nails Cut … What Do I Do?
- Proactive Conditioning for Dog Nail Trimming Success
- This! One is About Conditioning the Dremel for Puppy Nails
And due to popular demand, we now have “Your Dog’s Pedicure Please Program” at our store for you to start immediately online. Your Dog’s Pedicure Please Program will create a positive emotional response for your dog to grooming in general and nail trimming in particular.
We’ve had many questions about what I use for a nail grinder for my dogs, and it’s a *Casfuy Dog Nail Grinder with LED Light that I got on Amazon. I also like to use a Dremel with a *Diamond Nail Rotary Tool Bit.
[*Amazon Links Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Susan only recommends products she uses herself, and all opinions expressed here are her own. The link above is an affiliate link that, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission if you decide to buy from it. Thank you!]
Hello, could I have the recipe or the brand of the coconut yogourt please?
My dog won’t let anyone touch her feet,tried tables to make her sleep, the vet put here under ,sedate her ,can’t do that all the time.she was one when we got her,just won’t let anyone touch her feet any idea’s
Hi Lynda, Susan has a podcast episode explaining the step-by-step and also sharing about Your Dog’s Pedicure Please Program. Here’s the link for you, so you can start improving this for you and your dog: http://shapedbydog.com/107
Does anyone know the name of the type of clippers used by Dr. Leslie?
I appreciate the video. It was very informative. How do I convince our retriever/hound 13yo to keep from pulling away from me not getting a chance to close the clipper around the nail quick enough to trim a nail. I talk softly to him and bribe him with treats but I’m frustrated. Right now he has trouble getting into our small SUV and the mobile groomer appts are booking 2 months out.
Thanks so much, very informative.
Does Dr. Leslie Woodcock DVM have a video of her actually cutting the nails in her technique??
Can you recommend anyone in Ireland who can give my boys a head-start on the nails? We started this and it went very well but I developed cataracts and now find it very difficult to do and wonder if you can recommend anyone.
I have a 15-year old who won’t let me do his nails as I take so long to focus, but he would let someone else do it.
Also have a 7-year old who needs some help. Thank you.
I found this after realizing my dog’s toes are starting to bend and he has been showing early symptoms of elbow arthritis. I tried to get it close to the quick (looking for the pink area), but he starts bleeding immediately. Is it better to just get a rest done by the vet? I dremmel his nails weekly, but weekly doesn’t seem to be cutting it because I never seem to be able to tell when I get to the quick. Black nailed boy :).
Thank you very much for a detailed explanation of the proper way to cut and trim dog’s nails. I have a 150 lbs Female name Daisy, a South African Boerboel. I have found a way that works for both of us to get the job done where she can’t run from me, and make sure I have lots of treats on hand, for when she lets me get one nail done, she is rewarded with a treat and of course, “Good GirL”. Sometimes, I can only get a couple paws done a day. With your detailed explanation, I look forward to trying this on her to get her nails shorter. My challenge is trying to get the back paws done, while she is standing. The front paws I can do, no problem. Thank you again so very much for this video, I have learned a lot. Sylvia B.
Is there a special way to get a dog that licks constantly to not lick the trimmers when doing the nails? I cannot get a whole paw done as she is constantly in the way and has an extremely strong body/head to control or avoid in order to achieve anything.
My 11 year old GSD hates his feet being touched and he has black nails. This makes it so difficult to know where the quick actually is. I took him to be groomed just before lockdown and then I realised that the groomers hadn’t trimmed his front nails at all. I have no way of getting him back there as the groomers is closed for the duration. I do have a dremil-type battery operated file, but he hates the noise. As a 73 year old widow with no other humans in the house, I find it so difficult to hang onto my 36 kilo boy when he wants to move away. It is such a struggle. Any hints would be appreciated. Thank you. Carol
I was wondering if there is a link for these clippers. I can only find bulky to hold clippers with bad vision of the nail?🤞🏼 Fantastic video
Have a look at Doggyman small clippers, I even do huge dogs nails with them!
Hello Susan, The only problem (which, to me) is cutting my little guy’s black nails. I used to cut nails on my other dogs fine because I could see the quick. With black nails, it is terribly hard. I don’t want the nails to bleed or scare him. Can you help me?
I currently take him to a groomer, but she is not cutting as close as I would.
What I do with my black nailed boy is look at the bottom of the nail, you can kinda see where the quick is at that way because it’ll be the raised area under the nail. Cut close to that but not at it.
Then, I use a pair of the scissor clippers to “shave” off little thin layers at a time. Once I can see the soft or pale point in the middle of the nail, I know I’m short enough because I’m right at the quick. Then a quick touch up with a dremel to smooth rough edges and he’s good.
Hi Nancy, do you use a dremmel? I go conservative with the clippers and find I can go much shorter using the dremmel and they dont seem to mind it as much.
Hi, I have a couple of Cavaliers that come in that have paw pads that sit sideways, when they first started coming their nails were really long. I have been working them back but is it possible to get those dogs rehabbed to a point where their pads will start to stand up more or is it just bad breeding?
Your video was referenced from the Nail Maintenance for Dogs Facebook Page. I very much appreciate that they included a link to this page, as your description of how dogs rely on their pads and thus need nails to be an appropriate link was new to me. Two years ago I rescued a lovely Catahoula Leopard Cur with a WONDERFUL personality and lots of great past experiences and training. However … he is very wary of people handling his feet. I have never seen any vet, technician, or groomer shape the nails the way you and the folks at the aforementioned Facebook page, and wish I had found your resources sooner.
Thank you for posting!!!!!!
I love this video! I have a Doberman who has long thick black nails! His nails at very brittle, and although I have been giving him fish oil it hasn’t helped with his nails. I don’t want them cracking and hurting him. The sides of his nails break sometime, and the quick is black, and appears dried out but I don’t want to hurt him. I don’t know enough of the nail anatomy I guess. Any input you could offer ? I know this is an old post, but hoping it’s still checked. Thank you
Erin, there is a supplement named Biotin. I always have it to my horse as it promotes hoof/nail growth and promotes a healthy nail. It’s relatively cheap and works wonders 🙂
Great info . I never knew .
Great video on nail clipping. Everyone with a dog should see this video.
Just beginning the process of trimming nails. Thanks for such an informative video!!
I have a bad hand, so I have a groomer or the vet techs trim my dogs’ nails – it doesn’t matter how many times I ask them to trim shorter, their perception of short enough is different than mine. Frustrating. Very interesting and informative video – gives me some information I can use next time!
I have an old dog, almost 14 and only 4.8 lbs. He is having great difficulty walking. It appears his left shoulder is injured. He’s undergoing laser treatment but not improving.
I wonder if he needs a new nail trimming done?
Should include kitties as well.
If you don’t get them used to the feeling of having their little toes grabbed, it can be a battle of push and pull when they get older.
Always wondered why their nails grow thicker when you trim them.
Everyday when I go to work, I try to educate dog owners and other veterinarians about the importance of trimming dog nails. If I had five cents for everytime I have heard “My dog won’t let me trim his/her nails” or “I tried to trim my dog’s nails but I nicked the quick and it bled”, I would be very wealthy! Long nails affect the dog’s posture and movement. Long nails can get caught and torn. Why do 99% of veterinarians ignore long tie nails?? Thank you for posting this extremely important topic! May I share all the articles you have on nail care/trimming dog nails?
Thank you for this information. I learned some new things about my dogs feet and the role the feet play in telling the dog about their location. I’m going to work on trimming their nails the way you instructed.
My question is: I have my dog’s nails short enough that when she is standing her nails are not touching the ground. However, when she walks I can still her her nails clicking. Does this mean that the nails still need to be shorter?
This is a question that I would like to know the answer to as well.
I’ve followed this way of trimming nails for a few years now. Fabulous on my agility dogs and same for my grooming clients especially the older ones.