Person trimming dogs nails

Dog Nail Trimming


No matter your dog’s size, breed or life stage, all pups share some basic grooming needs, starting with dog nail care. Read on to learn about the importance of this grooming step and the dog nail trimming options that are available at your neighborhood Petco Pet Care Center.

A Vet checking out a happy dog.

Why do dogs need nail trims?

Dog nail trimming is an essential part of helping to keep your pup happy and healthy. Long nails that hit the ground can reduce traction, cause the feet to splay out and put undue pressure on the toes. Plus, long nails can get caught in carpet and on bed linens and split or break, causing pain. Playing, running and even walking can become uncomfortable if you don’t trim dog nails appropriately.

The benefits of nail trimming for dogs also go beyond comfort. The pressure that long nails put on the toes can lead to tendon injuries and deformed feet or legs over time. It can even contribute to arthritis. Nails that are too long can also lead to infections caused by your dog chewing at their paws or bacteria entering through broken nails.

You might be thinking, “Why do I even need a dog nail trimming service near me? Dogs in the wild don’t need nail trims.” However, dogs in the wild run long distances over harsh terrain, naturally wearing down their nails. If your pup goes for a few short walks a day and otherwise sleeps on your couch, they’ll probably need regular nail trims.

Black dog getting nails trimmed

How often do dogs need nail trims?

How often you need to trim dog nails depends on your pup’s activity level and lifestyle. Active dogs may only need a trim every three to four weeks to help with maintenance and prevent cracking. Dogs who live a plusher lifestyle—with little walking or hiking on hard surfaces like concrete or rock—will likely need a nail trim every two weeks.

Keep your dog’s age in mind, too. As our pups become seniors, their skin can thin, and sharp nails can injure them when they scratch themselves. Weekly touch-ups may be needed for a senior dog.

Still, before you open your phone or computer and search for “dog nail trimming near me,” you need to know how to tell if your pup’s nails are too long. It’s fairly easy—if your pup’s nails touch or click on the floor when they walk, they’re too long. And if they are curling over their paws, are red at the base or your dog looks like they are limping, their nails are probably much too long and will need more extensive attention.

How do I trim my dog’s nails?

Dog nail trimming is something some pets need time to get used to. You can help by handling their paws and trimming their nails frequently when they’re puppies. Older dogs may take longer to adjust. If you’re going to try trimming dog nails at home, here’s what you need to know. For even more information, take a look at Your Guide to At-Home Dog Nail Trimming.

First, gather your supplies so that you have them ready. You will need:

  • Nail Trimmer You can choose from traditional trimmers, which work like scissors—or use a nail grinder that works like a spinning nail file. Guillotine-style trimmers, in which the nail is inserted through a loop above the cutting blade, are another option but are best reserved for smaller dogs with thinner nails. They're usually not strong enough to clip thicker nails. Clippers are faster but carry a higher risk of hitting the quick, the part of the nail bed that brings blood to the nail.
  • Styptic powder This quick-stop powder can be applied to your dog’s nail if you do hit the quick and cause minor bleeding.
  • Collar and leash Help keep your pet secure with at least a collar and leash and consider asking another person to help you.
  • Towel For easier cleanup, sit on a large towel or an old blanket when you trim your dog’s nails.
  • Treats No dog nail trim kit is complete without treats to help keep your pup calm and reward them for being good.

Once you have your supplies ready, take your dog for a nice long walk or hike or have a play session to tire them out. A tired pup tends to also be a more cooperative pup. Now you’re ready to give dog nail trimming a try.

Starting with one of their back feet, hold their paw in your non-trimming hand in a way that’s comfortable for both you and your pup. Place the trimmer over the nail and angle it about 30 degrees out from the paw, then quickly and firmly make your first cut. Cutting too tentatively can cause cracking.

Now, lift your dog’s paw and look at the nail head-on. If you see a small dark circle, that’s the quick of the nail, and you don’t need to cut any more. If you don’t see a ring, you can move the trimmer slightly back on the nail and cut again. It can be difficult to spot the quick—especially for beginners and with dogs who have dark nails.

Take baby steps and always reward your pup as you go. If your dog is new to nail trims or just isn’t comfortable with them yet, trim just one nail a day, working your way up to one paw, then both back paws and finally all four paws. This might take a few months, but be patient—it’s important for dog nail trims to be positive for everyone involved.

If you or your dog is still feeling nervous, or your pup needs special care for severely overgrown nails or anxiety, it could be time to ask yourself, “Where can I find dog nail trimming near me?” Or you can opt for mobile dog grooming and have your groomer come right to your door.

dog nails being clipped

Nail trimming and buffing at Petco

Groomers have tools at their disposal that the typical pet parent doesn’t, so don’t worry if you feel anxious about trimming dog nails yourself. The stylists at your local Petco Grooming Salon have sharp, high-quality nail clippers, knowledge about how to use grinders and where to cut the nail and may even have slings that can help keep your dog secure during the nail trim.

When you schedule an appointment at a Petco Grooming Salon, you’ll have three nail services to choose from.

Nail trim only Uses trimmers to cut the nails.

Nail buffing only Uses a grinder to shorten the nails. Note that this is not an option for severely overgrown nails.

Nail trim and buffing Nail trimmers are used to shorten the nails, while the edges are softened with a grinder.

What type of nail trim does my dog need?

If you’re trying to decide between buffing and a nail trim, take a look at your dog’s nails. If they’re very long, you’ll probably need to start with trimmers, as this is usually the fastest way to take off length.

If your dog’s nails are severely overgrown, you may need to make several trips to the groomer. That’s because the quick grows with the nail but will also recede when they are trimmed. Regular dog nail trimming gradually pushes the quick back.

If your pup has shorter nails, you can likely use a nail grinder (or buffer) to soften the sharp edges. And if you find the nails are still rough after a trim, you can always follow up with a buff to soften the edges.

How much does it cost to get a dog’s nail trimmed?

The first query pet parents type into the search engine may be “dog nail trimming services near me,” but that’s often quickly followed by pricing. While prices may vary by service and location, here’s a general guide to Petco Grooming Salon pricing:

  • Nail buffing only—$12
  • Nail trim only—$12
  • Nail trim and buffing—$20
  • Mini Make-Rover Package—$22 ($40 value) includes nail trim and buffing, ear cleaning, paw balm and scented spritz
  • Mini Make-Rover Plus Package—$25 ($50 value) includes nail trim and buffing, ear cleaning, paw balm and scented spritz, plus teeth-brushing or breath refresh

Most full-service bathing and grooming packages include a nail trim or nail buff, but prices will vary depending on your pet’s size and hair length. You’ll also be able to add on packages like Soothe and Repair, Calm and Refresh, Shed Release Plus, Flea Cleanse and Essentials Plus.

Dog nail trimming doesn’t have to be a big deal for pet parents. With patience and the right tools, you can get it right. Or take your pup to dog nail trimming services near you and leave it to the certified stylists. Either way, your pet comes out a winner.