specialty veterinarian careers winter haven fl

Dog Nail Quick: What It Looks Like and How to Avoid Cutting It

Many dogs hate getting their nails cut, and this can make the process tricky for dog owners. Knowing how to properly cut your dog’s nails and how to avoid the quick will make you more confident when cutting your dog’s nails, which will also make the process safer. What exactly is the quick?

The quick is a soft cuticle within a dog’s nail. This area is very sensitive and contains blood vessels. As a result, it is very important that you avoid hitting this quick to prevent your dog from experiencing pain, discomfort, and bleeding.

In this article, we will be explaining everything that dog owners need to know about a dog’s nail quick. We will also be describing how to properly cut a dog’s nails along with answering some other commonly asked questions on this topic. Let’s get into it!

dog nail quick winter haven fl

What is a Dog Nail Quick?

The nail quick is essentially the dog’s cuticle. This cuticle contains nerve endings and blood vessels that feed the nail bed, and is located roughly at the curve of the nail. The quick can vary in length depending on the dog and how often its nails are trimmed.

What Does the Nail Quick Look Like?

The quick will appear like a small pink center of a dog’s nail. This will be shorter than the nail itself, and it will be located between the nail bed and the curve of the dog’s nail. You can easily see the quick on dogs with white nails, but it is very difficult to see on dogs with black nails.

How to Safely Cut Your Dog’s Nails Without Hitting the Quick

how to cut dog nails and avoid the quick

Cutting your dog’s nails can be a stressful process for both the dog and the owner, especially if it is your first time doing it. Luckily, there are ways to cut a dog’s nails safely. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to cut your dog’s nails safely without hitting the quick.

Step 1: Introduce Your Dog to the Nail Clippers

Before trimming your dog’s nails, it’s a good idea to introduce them to the nail clippers. You can do this by gently touching your dog’s feet with the clippers and giving them a treat. It is also a good idea to get your dog used to the sound, sight, and feeling of the clippers before actually cutting their nails.

Step 2: Pick up Your Dog’s Paw

Once your dog is ready for their nail trimming you can begin. Start by picking up your dog’s paw and holding it firmly, but not roughly. Gently place your thumb under the toe with the nail that you are going to cut. This will extend the toe a bit making the nail easier for you to see. It will hold the toe steady as well.

Step 3: Gently Trim the Nail

Next, gently trim the nail. Avoid cutting it too far and hitting the quick. Remember, the quick is where the nail curves, so you will want to cut before this point. When in doubt, cut less of the nail. You can always trim a bit more, but you can never reverse a nail that has been cut too far.

Step 4: Reward Your Dog for Good Behavior

It is always a good idea to reward your dog with treats for good behavior. This is especially true if you have an anxious dog or a puppy that is new to the process.

Step 5: Repeat

Repeat this process for each nail until the nail trim is done! Don’t forget the dewclaws if your dog still has them intact.

What Should You do if You Cut a Dog’s Nail Quick?

If you hit your dog’s nail quick, don’t panic! They will likely start to bleed, so it is a good idea to have a clotting powder made for dogs to help stop the bleeding. If there seems to be any further damage to your dog’s nail or foot, then it is best to call your vet right away for further advice.

What Could Happen if a Dog’s Quick is Exposed?

An exposed nail quick will likely bleed and be painful to your dog. It is also at risk of developing an infection if left untreated. As a result, it is always best to get your dog seen by a vet as quickly as possible if they have an exposed nail quick.

Does the Nail Quick Get Longer if You Don’t Cut Your Dog’s Nails?

Yes, the nail quick on dogs will get longer if their nails are not trimmed on a regular basis. This can make the act of trimming their nails safely much more difficult.

Can You Get Your Dog’s Quick to Recede?

how to recede dog nail quick

Even if your dog’s nails have grown out and are not trimmed regularly, you can still get the nail quick to recede.

To train your dog’s quick to recede, all you need to do is trim their nails about once a week. You will most likely not be able to cut much of the nails if their quick is very long, so be very careful about how much of the nails you trim.

How Often Should You Cut Your Dog’s Nails?

Some claim that dogs need to have their nails trimmed at least once a week. Meanwhile, others explain that they cut their dog’s nails as soon as they notice that they are about to touch the floor. Depending on your and your dog’s needs, either of these guidelines is absolutely fine to follow. No matter what though, once you hear your dog’s nails clicking against the floor, it is time to get those nail clippers out.


Although trimming your dog’s nails can be a difficult process, following the steps in this article should make it easier for both you and your pup. Remember to keep the nail quick in mind to avoid cutting it when trimming your dog’s nails. If you have any further questions regarding nail trimming and your pup, reach out to your veterinarian.

For dog parents in Winter Haven, FL, Veterinary Healthcare Associates offers 24/7 veterinary, specialty, and emergency care. Give us a call today at (863) 324-3340 or visit us online!

Are you interested in a career with Veterinary Healthcare Associates? We are looking for members to join our tribe. Visit our career page today!

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About Veterinary Healthcare Associates

Veterinary Healthcare Associates in Winter Haven, FL, was established over 30 years ago as Maxwell Animal Clinic by Dr. John Maxwell. Maxwell Animal Clinic was a one-doctor general practice offering preventive care, dentistry, and standard surgical services to the community. As the years passed, Maxwell Animal Clinic evolved into a thriving 10-doctor general, specialty referral, and emergency veterinary practice.