Dogaspet is reader-supported. As an Amazon Associate, we may earn from qualifying purchases.

How to File Your Dog’s Nails Instead of Clipping? (Guide By Vet)


How to File Your Dog’s Nails Instead of Clipping

When vets mention nail clipping to dog parents, most of them get anxious and nervous. And we get it. 

But we have some good news. You can file your dog’s nails instead of clipping! Stay with us and learn how you can achieve this.

How to File Dog Nails With Nail Files?

No matter the file tool you decide on, you should follow some simple tips to give your dog proper treatment. 

Manual filing 

Step 1: Hold the tool in your dominant hand

When using manual tools, always hold the tool in your dominant hand. And remember that a metal nail file is always better than a regular filing tool. 

Step 2: Reveal the nails

Another great tip is to hold the paw and try to separate the toes. This will help you separate the fur so you can easily access the nails. 

Step 3: Be careful of the blood vessels

The goal with both manual and electronic filing is to lead to no noise when the animal is walking on the ground. But, you should do this with caution and you should stop if you notice gray or red spots on the nails. Those are the blood vessels that supply the nails and toes with blood. Be extra careful when you reach this part. 

Step 4: Repeat the process a few times

Make sure that you introduce this process gradually to your pet. It is totally okay to separate the process into a few sessions. 

How to File Dog Nails With Nail Files

Electronic filing

Step 1: Offer treats and find the proper tool 

To perform electronic filing you need proper tools called grinders. As soon as you turn on the grinder, offer your pet some treats, and then turn it off. With this, you will let your dog know that there is nothing bad about that subject. Believe us, the right treats and proper reinforcement will keep your dog calm. 

Step 2: Hold the dog’s paw with your dominant hand

If you notice that your dog got used to the sound, take your dog’s paw with your dominant hand and separate the fur and coat to reveal the nails. 

Step 3: Adjust the tool accordingly

You should also adapt the grinder’s speed and intensity accordingly and try not to press too hard. Most importantly, you should prevent the grinder from overheating. 

Step 4: Try to keep the blood vessels untouched 

Again, if you see gray or red nail spots, stop grinding. This will prevent blood vessel damage

If your dog gets used to the tool, you will make the grooming process much easier and additionally, you will save a lot of money. 

The Pros and Cons of Filing Dog Nails

Yes, filing your dog’s nails is a great alternative instead of clipping. But, you should introduce your dogs to both nail clipping and filing as soon as possible. According to studies, dogs that get introduced to grooming later in life might get aggressive

But let’s dig deeper into the pros and cons of filing a dog’s nails. 

Pros of filing dog nails

Most dogs get freaked out when they see grooming tools like clippers, probably because of some past unpleasant experience. 

Therefore, filing nails can lead to less traumatized and more relaxed experiences. As soon as the animal realizes what you are doing, you are going to finish the process. 

Additionally, filing can lead to smoother nails and it will remove unnecessary nail fragments. With this, you will protect your furniture and your animal from scratching. 

Also, you can avoid blood vessel damage. Nails are supplied with blood vessels and one small mistake during clipping can lead to excessive bleeding. 

Filing can also keep the nail integrity and will save you from the unnecessary “drama” from your dog. 

The Pros and Cons of Filing Dog Nails

Cons of filing dog nails

Filing is perfect, but you should be concerned about a few things. 

It is more time-consuming than nail clipping and the dog can get bored and anxious. So, try to entertain your dog, if possible during this process. 

If you have grinders on batteries, you should regularly replace them, or if you have a normal grinder, you should buy new ones from time to time. In general, nail grinders are more expensive than nail clippers and require regular replacements. 

The filing process is not as easy as it seems. You need to learn the process properly from professionals before you start practicing this. Either ask for advice from a professional groomer or from a veterinarian. 

And most importantly, the noise. Not all dogs enjoy the noise and vibration that is produced from the grinders. If you decide about grinders, adapt your dog from an early age. 

What Type of Dog Nail File to Use?

Nail files are excellent for dogs that are too scared of nail clippers. There are many types of nail files and your choice should depend on your dog’s size. But usually, these files are small, around 6.5 inches long and are easy to store. 

What Type of Dog Nail File to Use?

Before we present you all the possible suggestions, be aware that the more quality files you purchase, the longer they will last! 

Let’s discuss your options! 

Rotary Nail Grinder

Ease of Use

Rotary nail grinders have abrasive heads that grind the nail. The best thing about these tools is that they come in different speed options which will help you adjust the whole grinding process. Dogs with thick nails won’t face issues while grinding because these tools have different settings. 

You can fix the nail with only one click on the button. The tool that we offer you even has an automatic LED light which offers easier and safer grooming. Additionally, it has 3 nail slots to properly fit any size of the pet’s nail. Its design is perfect because it isn’t slippery and it is comfortable to hold. You can perform rougher pedicure, delicate pedicure, or finishing touches with this tool. 


Nail Clippers and Files

Ease of Use

Another option is to purchase a combo of clippers and files. Only make sure that the clipper is sharp enough to avoid nail crushing and splitting. 

On that occasion, we offer you a great tough and durable combo which is made of 100% stainless steel and can last for several years. The nail file is made of stainless steel and diamond flakes which is great for smoothing the nails. 

Pet Nail File

Ease of Use

Pet nail file can lead to perfection while grooming your dog. Therefore we offer you a great tool for your next grooming session with your pet. This tool is made of stainless steel material that will trim and file your dog’s nails properly. Additionally, this tool might last longer than regular filing tools because of its stainless steel material. 

Can you file dog nails with a human nail file?

Yes, it is possible to file your dog’s nails with a human nail file, but usually, we don’t recommend human tools. 

First of all, these tools are ineffective because they are designed for human nails. And human nails are much thinner and softer than dog’s nails. Bear in mind that you will also struggle more while filing. 

Since tools designed for humans are ineffective, they can cause discomfort in dogs and larger dogs won’t like this process because they have layered nails. 

Should you use an electric file or a manual file?

Each nail file has its pros and cons and the decision should be based on your dog’s characteristics. Also your dog’s temperament and its type of nails can affect the decision. 

Electric files

For example, electric files are more efficient and quicker than manual files. They also have few functions that can adapt according to your dog. Of course, this depends on the electric file you choose. If you decide about a pricier file, you will get more functions than from a regular electric file. You can adapt the speed and you will control the process and precision better which can lead to safety if used correctly. But we have some bad news! Electric files can be noisy and vibrant and not all dogs enjoy that. 

Manual files

On the other side, manual files seem more gentle than electric ones. The reason behind this is that they don’t produce irritant noises. Also, you will have more control during the filing process because you can adapt the filing speed and intensity which will help you avoid injuries. 

In the end, you should base your decision based on your dog’s character and adaptability. There is no good or bad file, there is only a good or bad filing process. 

Best nail file for dogs 

In our opinion, every dog owner should have both electric and manual nail files. Both tools have their pros and cons, however you should try them both and see what fits your pet best. 

But we think that the Rotary Nail Grinder is an excellent option if you decide on electronic tools. It offers you various settings that might cause comfortable and enjoyable grooming for your pet. On the other hand, if you decide about manual nail files you should consider the Pet Nail File which is very durable, unlike other manual files. 

But, in the end, the decision is yours. After you see what fits your pet the best, you can continue investing in nail grooming. 

Bell+Howell Pawperfect Cordless Dog and Cat Nail Trimmer Rotating File with Safety Guard

Extra tips on filing dog nails

While handling your dog during any procedure, follow these techniques of desensitization or counterconditioning to achieve maximum effect: 

Tips on filing dog nails

You can use this technique for any procedure that seems aversive to dogs. This includes muzzling, vaccination, or pilling. 

Can You File a Puppy’s Nails?

Yes indeed! You can file puppy’s nails and sometimes this is a better option than nail clipping. Filing is a great option for dogs that are too scared of clipping. Also, this is an option that provides a more gentle treatment for your furry friend. So, what are you waiting for? Order the tool that suits your dog and start filing immediately!

Table of contents

Written by

Dr. Sandra
In addition to her current work as a veterinary student and researcher, Dr. Sandra Tashkovska brings six years of experience in writing to the table, making her a valuable addition to any team focused on animal welfare and related fields.
The Ideal Dog Routine Written By Vet
Add Years to Your Dog's Life With Our Free E-book!

Not only does this routine build their confidence and reduce the likelihood of behavioral disorders, but it can also result in a longer, healthier life!