Unlike our toenails, dog's toenails have a  nerve and a blood vein inside them.  When the toenail is cut too short it causes pain and bleeding.   The entire nail isn't sensitive, there is a live part and a dead section which is the part that can be safely trimmed.

The live area in light coloured toenails is easy to see.  The section with the nerve and vein is pink and the dead part is white.

A lot of Goldens have black toenails, making it impossible to see where one area ends and the other begins.  But there is another way to tell.  By holding the foot with the pads facing up,  you can see along the bottom side of the nail, a groove.   It begins at the tip of the toenail, where its outline is very sharp, deep and distinct.  The groove continues towards the toe becoming wider and shallower until its outline blends in with the rest of the nail and seems to disappear.  The part of the toenail with the deep distinct groove is the dead area .  There is no nerve or blood vein in that section and you can safely cut it off without  hurting your dog.

Accidents happen even to the most experienced nail trimmers and a cut nail can bleed heavily.  A pinch of flour applied to the end of the nail will stop the bleeding, but a product like Kwik Stop which is designed for the purpose is more effective.  If you cut a nail don't fuss.  Offer an apology and a treat and continue with a different paw. 

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