How To Sedate Your Dog For Dog Nail Clipping Easily

So you have tried everything to get your dog accustomed to the dog nail clippers. You introduced them slowly, showered your dog with treats and praise, and tried every kind of nail clippers and anything you can think of.

Perhaps you, by no ill intention, nicked your dog, and never again has he or she trusted you with the clippers. If any of these situations sound like yours, then you might need to mildly sedate your dog for the process. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking, “is it really that serious?” Well, to get the job done, sometimes you need drastic measures.

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Things You Need To Know About Sedating Your Dog

Benefits of Sedating Your Dog

Mild sedatives are not harmful and can offer a lot of benefits. They calm your dog down and reduce stress on him and you. They become easier to handle (especially larger breeds) and decrease the potential for self-injury. Now we don’t mean a full-on sedative that puts your dog to sleep, sometimes a mild sedative in the form of melatonin and other natural substances could do the trick.

What Can I Use to Sedate My Dog?

Let’s talk about choosing the right sedative for your dog. We must urge you to seek professional guidance before you try any form of sedative to avoid dangerous repercussions.


A pretty common option, Benadryl is used by some to sedate dogs. Most human medications are not suitable for dogs, because our anatomies are different and we may react differently to the same drugs. However, there are a few options like Benadryl that vets do use often. Benadryl on dogs is often used to treat travel anxiety, motion sickness, and even allergies.

So how does this drug treat anxious dogs? A side effect of Benadryl, which many of us may already know, is drowsiness. It’s useful to keep small amounts handy in your pet emergency kit.

Familiarize yourself with the side effects of Benadryl before administering it. Some of the more common side effects in dogs include sedation (which is what you want), increased heart rate, rapid breathing, urinary retention, dry mouth, hypersalivation.


This is probably better known to you like the sleep chemical. For those long international flights, melatonin has been a godsend in helping those with severe jet lag.

This over the counter drug is also advisable for dogs. Although the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) hasn’t officially approved the use of melatonin for dogs, vets have been using it for years under careful supervision. It’s a useful friend to help cure anxious fur babies in the face of thunderstorms, fireworks, vet visits, and maybe even nail clipping.

Make sure you consult with your trusted vet on the proper and safe dosage. Melatonin rarely has side effects, but if they do emerge, they would come in the form of upset stomachs and itching.

Diazepam (Valium)

More often referred to as Valium, Diazepam can help pets who suffer from tense muscles, over-excitement/stimulation, and convulsions.

Diazepam is an addictive drug, so we do not recommend giving this to your pup as your first and only option, especially if he or she is on other medications. If the amount isn’t well controlled, your pet could turn into a junkie!

Since it’s a controlled substance, it’s only obtainable through a licensed veterinary office and should be stored and used with care.


This is another prescription drug available to help dogs in stressful situations. The difference is that it has earned FDA approval! Although you still need a vet’s approval and their professional eye for the amount and to advise you on potential side effects.

Natural Remedies to Calm Your Dog

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Many of you, myself included, would rather turn to holistic and natural methods as a way to combat anxiousness. It doesn't have to complicated when using dog nail clippers the first time. Let’s take a look at arguably safer and more accessible methods to keep your dog calm.


Believe it or not, this works on your pooch too! Just find some calming scented oil (preferably lavender) and rub in on your dog’s neck in a soothing manner.


There are collars that emit pheromones or you can look for diffusers that do the same thing. The pheromones wafting from these devices are the same ones a mommy dog produces to calm her litter. It apparently works on adult dogs as well.


Herbal therapy tablets can help too. You can find calming herbal liquids online very easily, ones that contain chamomile and ginger have been proven to help.

Keeping Your Dog Still During the Process

If your dog is a squirmer, you need to get him on his side and put pressure on his body with your own. You might need someone else’s aid to get the job done. One person restrains the two legs touching the floor. You should be firm, but don’t restrain him with too much force.

Ways to Deal with the Fear of Nail Clipping

If you take your dog out for a walk or run often on sidewalk or asphalt, it will help wear down the nails and may eliminate the need for trimming altogether.

If your dog is a heavy sleeper, perhaps even doing it while he or she is asleep could prove to be useful.

If clippers are the problem, opt for nail grinders/sanders, with these 7 best nail grinders for dogs as some of our approved recommendations. Cultivating a stress-free environment could help as well.

If all else fails, the vet will pick up where you left off. Perhaps with some training sessions, your dog could get used to the idea of nail trimming.


Dogs are often fearful of things and events they are unfamiliar with. If the tables were turned, we’re sure you would feel antsy too. Don’t blame or punish your dog or become impatient. It takes lots of treats, encouragement and positive reinforcement to get there. But don’t worry, you will get there in time. In the meantime, you can try these sedatives to try and make the process more pleasant for both parties involved. Good luck with your next grooming session!