How to Cut Dog’s Nails Without Clippers

how to cut dog's nails without clippers
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Most pet parents have had the unfortunate experience of their dogs jumping up to them happily and excitedly—only for them to end up wounded and scratched.

When a dog’s nails get too long, it becomes easy for this to happen.

Many dog owners want to know how to cut dog's nails without clippers because of the risks that come with using one. Plus, long nails can be a danger to the dogs themselves.

Is it possible to avoid cutting the nails and still manage their length?

Today, you will learn more about why some pet parents avoid clippers and find out how you can control your dogs’ nails without using one.

You have options as a dog owner; it’s time to explore them!

Why Some Pet Owners Avoid Clippers

Before we get into the details about how to cut dog's nails without clippers, let’s talk about why you might want to do this.

Why is it that some pet owners avoid clippers altogether?

Some find that they are hard to use, and others just don’t have any at home. These, however, are not the only pros and cons in action.

Pros and Cons of Nail Clippers

As with any pet grooming tool, there will be advantages and disadvantages to using at-home clippers.


There are two different kinds of dog nail clippers, and they are good for different types of nails.

Guillotine nail clippers are great for smaller breeds and dogs with thinner nails, while scissor-style clippers are great for thick nails.

Both kinds are handheld, and they make very quick work of trimming the excess nail.

These clippers are usually very cheap, as well, so you can actually have both if you want.

Finally, nail clippers don’t require electricity, so you can use them anywhere.

If you want to consider using dog nail clippers, you will want to be sure that you have the best option available to reduce risk.


Of course, many people find that using nail clippers is not for them. After all, it can be very stressful to use.

There is a lot of talk about how to use nail clippers safely, and that means you have to learn quite a bit before you start.

For some pet owners, that is just too stressful.

Additionally, it is relatively easy to damage the quick of your dog’s nail if you are not careful.

The quick is where the nerves and blood vessels end off in your dog’s nail, and cutting this will be very painful for your pet.

You could even cause permanent damage if you cut too deep into the quick. For that reason, you have to be excessively careful not to cut it.

Most pet parents can learn how to avoid the quick by going very slowly and getting in a lot of practice.

Still, is that risk worth it?

In the end, it is up to you to decide if you want to deal with the risk of using a nail clipper that could be dangerous for your pet.

How to Cut Dog's Nails Without Clippers

Using nail clippers can be very stressful. Thankfully, it’s not the only way to handle a dog’s long nails.

Here’s how to cut a dog’s nails without clippers.

How to Clip Dog Nails Without Clippers: Try Using a Nail Grinder

The number one alternative to using a nail clipper is to use a dog nail grinder instead.

Nail grinders are essentially rotating sandpaper that trims down the nails.

Just as a grinder can be used to cut away at other materials, dog nail grinders are specifically designed to safely remove the nail.

Pros of Using a Nail Grinder

First of all, nail grinders are great for stressed-out owners and their stressed dogs.

Not only do you have more margin for error since you go more slowly, but your dog may be less afraid of the grinder than the clippers.

Another great thing about using a nail grinder is that you can make soft, rounded edges with it.

When you clip using a nail clipper, the edges are often rough and jagged; they can get caught on or scratch things.

Nail grinders can create a smooth, rounded edge that will not do that.

Finally, nail grinders are an excellent option for very thick nails that can be hard to cut with clippers.

Rather than relying on brute force, you can simply grind away with the dog nail grinder.

how to cut dog's nails without clippers

Cons of Using a Nail Grinder

Though it is harder to do, it is still possible to run into problems with the quick when using a nail grinder.

Still, it is much easier to control how far you go into the nail when using a nail grinder, so the quick isn’t as big of a concern.

Dogs that are afraid of loud noises might not enjoy the grinder, as most are somewhat loud.

Finally, you might need to use the grinder outside so that the nail dust and odor doesn’t need to be cleaned up from your house.

“Self” Grinding

Another way that you can grind your pet’s nails is to get them to file it themselves.

You can buy filing pads, and then teach your dog how to walk on these pads.

By walking on the rough ground, their nails will be naturally filed down.

Others find that they can accomplish this by walking their dog on concrete and other rough surfaces regularly.

Generally, however, this method is better for upkeep, and trimming will still need to occur.


1. Why should dog nails be kept shorter rather than longer?

After learning how to trim dog nails without clippers, we can't help but ask why exactly do dogs need their nails to be trimmed?

A dog’s nails might not have been trimmed when they were a wild breed, but that doesn’t apply to dogs that spend lots of time inside.

Dogs that play outside a lot may naturally wear down their nails, but indoor dogs will have longer nails than they should.

When a dog has long nails, this can put extra pressure on their joints. It can even cause them pain!

Though the extra pressure won’t cause an immediate health problem, it will cause some long-term issues if left unchecked.

In fact, the joints could even realign themselves to better handle the nail length, which would cause a permanent change in your dog’s body.

Trimming your dog’s nails regularly is about more than just how the nails look. Instead, trimming their nails ensures that they will be as healthy, happy, and safe as possible.

2. When can a puppy’s nails be trimmed?

Now that you know how to clip dog nails without clippers, you might be wondering when you should start trimming them after bringing your puppy home.

Generally speaking, you should start as soon as possible.

While puppies won’t have a huge amount of nail growth, you want to get them used to the nail trimming process early on.

Additionally, you want to ensure that their nails don’t prevent their body from growing properly.

If their nails get too long and the pressure put on their feet changes because of that, you could accidentally cause some health problems.

Start trimming your puppies nails within their first month at home, and monitor the nails closely from there.

3. Can you cut dog nails with human nail clippers?

If you are trying to figure out how to trim dog nails without clippers because you don’t have any dog clippers, you may consider using human nail clippers.

This will only work for tiny puppies or very small breeds that have thin, tiny nails.

Also, doing this is not recommended, especially when it can be avoided.

Human nail clippers might not produce the proper leverage for dog nails, and this could lead to nail cracking or other problems.

Your best option is to stick to using dog-specific products.

4. What do I do if my dog is scared?

While you can get your pet used to nail clippers or grinders over time by showing them that they don’t have to be painful, this can be difficult.

If your pet is terrified of getting their nails clipped, your best option is likely to visit a professional groomer.

They can safely cut your dog’s nails and ensure that no one gets hurt in the process. Groomers have experience with frightened dogs, so they will be able to handle this.

Keep Your Pet’s Paws in Line

No matter how you decide to manage your dog’s nail length, keep in mind that it is important to do so.

Letting a dog’s nail length go unchecked can cause damage to your dog, you, and your property if you aren’t careful.

It might seem like an easy thing to ignore, but nail length is actually very important to monitor.

Don’t let the fear of using clippers prevent you from doing everything that you can to ensure your pet is well taken care of.

Consider options besides clippers.

If you still cannot clip or trim your dog’s nails, bring in a professional that can help you out. Your dog’s health is more important than your fears about hurting them.

A professional can make balancing your fears with your dog’s needs easier.

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