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How to Cut a Pitbull’s Nails: 7 Vet Approved Tips & Tricks

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Merle Pitbull puppy nail clipping, cutting nails, nail trim

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Your Pitbull needs regular nail trims for more than just cosmetic reasons. Long nails that hit the ground put pressure on the nail bed, foot, and leg structure, causing pain, improper posture, and odd walking habits. They can also cause injuries if they get torn off or caught on carpeting or upholstery fiber.

You can tell your Pitbull needs a nail trim if you hear clicking sounds when it walks on hard or tiled surfaces. Overly long nails can also make it seem like your dog is tip-toeing with its paws slightly elevated above the nails. Trimming those daggers is necessary to keep your pet walking and running more comfortably.

If your Pitbull despises nail trims and sees nail clippers as dangerous torture devices, this post is for you. Dive in for seven expert tips to make your at-home nail trimming sessions more comfortable and successful.

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The 7 Steps to Cutting a Pitbull’s Nails

1. Gather Your Equipment & Supplies

Before clipping your Pitbull’s nails, ensure everything you need for the session is within reach. The supplies you require include the following.

  • Dog nail scissors/ guillotine clippers/ grinder
  • Flashlight (for pit bulls with dark nails)
  • Dog treats
  • Styptic powder

Scissor clippers are easier to use and ideal for pit bulls with thick nails. However, using guillotine clippers when trimming a puppy’s nails is better. If you have no experience cutting your dog’s nails, always choose products with a quick sensor.

Using a nail grinder instead of clippers is safer when dealing with a nervous pet or when the quick is difficult to see. Grinders offer more precision and control, minimizing the risk of injuring your pet by nipping the quick. They allow you to slowly and gently file down the nails to give your pet a more comfortable experience.

2. Give Your Dog a Sense of Security

It is crucial for your Pitbull to feel relaxed before you begin trimming its nails. Consider giving it a treat or extra cuddles to help calm its nerves. If this is its first time getting a mani/pedi, let it sniff the clippers and reward it with a treat. The idea is to ensure it forms a positive association with nail trimming sessions.

Also, turn on the nail grinder for a minute or chop some dry noodles with your clippers. You want to introduce the sound these tools make so that nothing gets your pet off guard. Again, reward your furry friend with a treat or a round of praise.

If your Pitbull is still not ready, repeat the above steps after a day. In between, touch and hold its paws repeatedly to get it accustomed to having its feet handled.

sad woman and pitbull
Image Credit: Sjale, Shutterstock

3. Identify the Quick

Your Pitbull needs to sit as you clip the front nails or stand as you work on the hind claws. Pick up one foot and use your forefinger and thumb to isolate the nail you want to cut.

Before you start trimming, inspect the nail to identify the quick. The quick is the live part of the nail that bleeds if nipped. Dogs with light-colored nails have a pink quick that you can easily see without a flashlight.

If your pet has darker nails, shine a flashlight through the claw from beneath and check if you can see the quick. You can also examine the underside of the nail and avoid clipping past the hollow section towards the tip. Generally, it would be best if you only cut the area that is thinner than the rest of the nail.

4. Work on One Toe at a Time

You can keep your Pitbull more relaxed using a calm voice and reassuring words. Hold your clippers at a 45-degree angle and place the blade at the tip of the nail. Remain calm and use a gentle but firm clipping motion to cut the overgrown nail. Reward your doggo with praise and a treat to ensure it forms a positive association with the procedure.

Consider doing one nail daily until your pet gets comfortable with the sessions. Gradually increase the number of nails you do per sitting until your Pitbull is comfortable enough to have all four paws trimmed in a single session.

Pitbull puppy nail trimming
Image Credit PPstudio, Shutterstock

5. Do Some Finishing Touches

Clipping and grinding are equally safe and efficient ways of trimming a dog’s nails. While nail clippers are cheaper and less noisy, grinders are louder and more expensive. Still, using a nail grinder is convenient because you only need one tool. You must do some finishing touches to achieve smooth edges if you opt for a scissor or guillotine clipper.

If a grinder’s noise or vibrating feeling makes your Pitbull uneasy, you can always use a pet nail file. Irrespective of your chosen tool, constantly check how close you get to the quick to avoid causing injuries.

6. Don’t Panic in Case of an Accident

Cutting the quick on your dog’s nail can be a painful and traumatizing experience for you and your pet. Still, it is not the end of the world, and you must remain calm. Remember that even a professional groomer cannot guarantee an accident-free nail trimming session.

You can quickly ease your dog’s pain by sprinkling some styptic powder on the nail and pressing it down. This should also stop the bleeding within five minutes. If some blood drips on your surfaces or the dog’s fur, wipe it down as soon as possible using cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide.

Groomer about to cut pitbull nail
Image Credit: SvetikovaV, Shutterstock

7. Cut Longer Nails in Bits

The correct frequency for cutting a Pitbull’s nails is once a month. If you let the dog’s nails overgrow, it is best not to cut them short in one sitting. Longer nails have a longer quick that you can easily nip if you chop bigger chunks of the claws.

For the best experience, cut the tip of each nail and wait one week to allow the quick to retreat. Check the position of the quick, and if it has receded enough, clip the nails once more.

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Final Thoughts

Patience and calm nerves are necessary to get to a place where your Pitbull lets you trim its nails without too much protest. You can speed up the process of receiving a conditioned response by scheduling nail trims within the recommended frequency.

Ideally, Pitbulls should have their nails trimmed each month. You can also create more opportunities for your dog to associate sessions with a positive experience by doing touch-ups once a week. The idea is to make nail trimming a habit and, ultimately, a “normal” routine for your pet.

Featured Image Credit: PPstudio, Shutterstock

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