Does it Hurt a Dog When You Cut The Quick? [How To Avoid]

CareDoes it Hurt a Dog When You Cut The Quick?

It can hurt a dog quite a bit when you cut the quick. The level of pain your dog experiences will depend on how deep into the quick you cut. The deeper you cut, the more nerves you damage. Use styptic powder to numb the pain and stop the bleeding.

Everyone knows that regularly grooming your pet is important. This includes cutting your dog’s nails. But do you know how to properly cut the nails so you don’t hit the quick? And if you do accidentally cut the quick, is that painful for your dog?

Cutting dog nails can be a scary experience, especially if it’s your first time! You’ve probably heard horror stories about people cutting into the quick and experiencing what appears to be a never ending flow of blood (even though it’s actually not that much).

In today’s guide, we will go over what your dog experiences when you cut the quick and then go over the best practices to avoid cutting too deep.

Is Cutting the Quick Painful for Dogs?

Many new pet owners don’t know how to properly cut a dog’s nail. In some cases, they don’t even know what the quick of the nail is.

In simple terms, the quick of the dog’s nail includes a nerve and a blood vessel, both of which are protected by your dog’s hard outer nail.

While nails that are too long can pose a problem to your dog (they risk splitting in half or fracturing which can be painful), so too can cutting your dog’s nails too short.

Cutting into your dog’s quick will result in severe pain for your doggie. It can be traumatic for both you and your pet.

While the quick can be seen in some cases, such as in dogs that have lighter nails, they can be hard to locate in dogs with black or dark nails.

It is imperative to try to avoid the quick and learn how to properly cut dog nails to keep your dog from experiencing pain.

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What Happens When You Accidentally Cut The Quick?

As mentioned above, cutting into the quick of a dog’s nail will result in severe pain. It can feel very scary for both you and your dog if this occurs.

Because cutting into the quick essentially exposes a nerve, the pain your dog experiences will be sharp. Additionally, since there is a blood vessel in the quick, you will notice a lot of bleeding from the nail(s) where the quick was cut.

After you cut the quick, your dog might react in a variety of ways.

Most likely, your dog will yelp or cry out in pain. Some dogs may become aggressive due to the pain and may growl or try to bite you to get you to stop.

They are trying to protect themselves from harm, so it is important to be careful if you have accidentally cut the nail too short.

If the nail is cut too short, see if it stops bleeding within a couple minutes. Try to touch the nail as little as possible. Each time you touch the nail, you cause more pain for your dog.

You will want to clean the area with an antiseptic or water since exposed quicks can become infected if they are not protected (hence the purpose of the nail).

If you have some, you can also apply a cauterizing powder or silver nitrate stick to the area that was cut too short, but regular flour or baking soda can also be used. Most of these powders also have a numbing effect, so it’s best to apply one as soon as possible.

Wrap your dog’s nail as soon as possible to keep it protected. If you are unable to do this or if bleeding doesn’t stop within five minutes, take your dog to the vet.

Either way, you may need to give your dog medication to help with the pain.

How to Avoid Cutting The Quick

Before cutting your dog’s nails for the first time, it is important to learn how to properly cut them. The first step is to try to make your dog comfortable. This will significantly ease the nail cutting process. It can be extra hard to cut a dog’s nail when the dog is very anxious or fidgety.

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To begin, you will want to choose which paw you will start with. Take the dog’s paw in your hand to keep your pup from yanking his foot away. You want to avoid squeezing his paw.

Next, you will want to use the clippers to take off only a small portion of your dog’s nail. Do not cut too high or near the curve of his nail.

You will want to repeat this for each toenail. Make sure to reward your dog with treats or a favorite toy.

If you do hit the quick, follow the steps above to stop the bleeding. If you are feeling uncertain about how short to cut a dog’s nail, you can also have the nails trimmed by a groomer or at the vet for a nominal fee. Most groomers can fit dogs in the same or next day for basic nail trimmings.

We usually tell new dog owners to learn from the groomers. Watch the strategy they use and where they clip. After a few visits to the groomers, you may have enough confidence to try clipping the nails yourself.

Part of a good home toenail cut involves having the proper grooming tools, which are discussed next.

Getting The Right Tools

Three main tools can be used to cut a dog’s nails.

The Guillotine

The first is a guillotine-style trimmer that goes all the way around the dog’s nail. You insert each nail into the hole. Then you squeeze the handle, and a blade cuts the nail up to the point where you inserted the nail.

If you know what you’re doing, this can be a swift and efficient way to cut nails. However, you also risk cutting straight into the dogs quick if you don’t have experience with nail clipping.


The second type of tool looks more basic, and it is a special kind of scissor. The scissors have curved blades that mimic the shape of a dog’s nail. By squeezing the handles, you will cut the nail. This tool may be harder for novice users as the toenail can be more prone to slip when cutting.

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With that said, with this tool, you can slowly clip away at the nails, cutting a small amount at a time. This will significantly reduce the chances of hitting the quick.

Nail Grinder

The third type of nail tool is a grinder. One popular brand is Dremel. These essentially work like nail files. They take a lot longer to file your dog’s nails, but you are less likely to cut into the quick when using these since it is a slower process.

If you’re a beginner, we suggest learning how to use the nail grinder. It does take a lot longer, but you likely won’t cut into the quick.

In addition to one of the above tools, you will want to keep powder on hand in case you accidentally cut into the quick.

The most popular kind is a styptic powder, which can help stop the bleeding if the quick is nicked during the trimming process.

Likewise, it can be helpful to keep clean, sterilized bandages with whatever tool you choose. After the trimming is finished, make sure to give your dog lots of love and extra treats!

Mistakes Happen – Learn From Them

When it comes to cutting dog nails, mistakes will happen. It’s very rare to find an experienced dog groomer who has never cut into the quick. Just be sure to learn from your mistake and try to not do it again. Make sure you properly clean the wound and apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Although cutting the quick does hurt the dog, they’ll forget about it in a few hours.

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Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.

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