Trimming dog nails may seem like a risky proposition to try on your own. But if you follow directions and take your time, your pup’s toes will look great. A lot of pet owners are able to trim their dog’s nails on a regular basis, saving significant money versus going to a professional groomer.
Here are some of the reasons why trim nails are important to a dog’s health and a step-by-step guide to show you how to do it safely.
Info For Pet Owners: Why Trimming Dog Nails Is Important
If your dog walks on hard surfaces a lot of the time, that can wear down the nails to the point to where they don’t need a trim as often. But a lot of dogs lead a comfortable, pampered life – and there’s obviously nothing wrong with that. For dogs like this, their nails don’t take as much of a pounding. As a result, their nails grow more rapidly. Regular nail clipping is necessary.
If your pup’s nails get so long that they touch the ground, that can affect the dog’s health. It can cause pain, and it also puts pressure on their toes. Over time, that can lead to disfigurement of the foot, disturbing the alignment of the joints in the feet and legs. It might become difficult for your dog to walk or run without serious discomfort.
In some cases, not getting your dog’s nails clipped can cause the nail to actually grow into the paws on your dog’s feet. The nails may also split or tear easily, which can also result in severe pain for your pup.1
Get Your Pup Prepared
If you have a puppy, this is a great time to get them used to nail trimming. Older dogs who aren’t familiar with the routine can become nervous to the point it’s almost impossible to trim the nails without an extreme amount of effort.
First of all, make it a point to touch your dog’s paws regularly – gently, of course. That way, your dog won’t be as sensitive to having their paws touched when grooming time arrives. Then, get the nail clippers. Let your dog sniff the tool, and provide love and treats as they do. The dog will come to associate the clippers with something good.
Touch the tool to each paw to further familiarize the dog with it. Do this without actually cutting any nails. Try this every couple of days for a week or so until it’s time for trimming. Then, cut a tiny portion of the nail on one paw. Repeat this every day for a few days.2
Hopefully, your pooch will eventually become so comfortable with the clippers that it won’t be a major production when it’s time for actual nail trimming.
How To Trim Dog Nails: Get The Right Tools
You’ll probably be able to tell on your own when your pup needs their nails trimmed, but ask your vet if you’re not sure. You’ll need to gather a few things in order to trim their nails safely and effectively.
You’ll need the clippers, of course. If you have a small-breed dog, think about using guillotine nail clippers. They are easier to use. Larger breeds will need a scissors-type or pliers-type of clipper. Again, your vet can recommend the right tool for your pet.
Also, have some treats handy. You can provide them as a reward when your dog behaves as you trim their nails. You’ll also want something close by if you should happen to accidentally cut the nails too short and your pet starts bleeding (you’ll learn how to avoid this). Talk to your local pet store to make sure they carry clotting powder. Styptic powder will also help stop bleeding.3
A Quick Step-By-Step Guide To Trimming Dog Nails
Here’s a step-by-step guide to trimming dog nails.
- Step 1 – Remove any dirt or other debris from your dog’s paws.
- Step 2 – Take each toe gently in your fingers. Position the trimmer so it runs at a slight angle across the nail. Cut a small amount from the tip.
- Step 3 – Keep doing this until you start to see what looks like a small circle. This should be the same color of the nail. This means you are getting close to the quick (more on this later). When you see it, stop trimming and move to the next nail.
- Step 4 – Once you’re done, you can use an emery board to smooth out any roughness that remains on the nails.4
If you don’t want to use clippers, you might consider using a grinder to trim your dog’s nails. Some people believe grinding is an easier, safer option.5 Talk to your vet to see if this might be a good choice for your pet. A local dog groomer may be able to show you the right technique.
Avoid Cutting Into The Quick
It’s important to avoid cutting the portion of the nail known as the quick. This is the area that supplies blood to the nail. If you cut this, two things will happen. One, it will be painful for your dog. Two, cutting the quick can lead to bleeding.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to see where the quick is actually located. This is especially the case for dogs who have black hair as well as black nails.
If this description fits your dog, look at the end of the nail. It should have a whitish tone. As you cut a little farther down the nail, it should be darker. The quick will be very close to this area, so stop cutting.
You could also apply very gentle pressure with the clippers – without cutting. If the dog reacts, that means you’re likely at the quick.6
What To Do If A Nail Starts Bleeding Or Trimming Is Causing Pain For Your Pooch
As careful as you may be trimming dog nails, mistakes can happen. Don’t punish yourself. Just be ready to take action. This is where the styptic powder or clotting powder will come in.
Take a chunk of powder (about the size of a pea) and apply it to the area that’s bleeding. Use a good amount of pressure while being as gentle as possible. You want to make sure the powder sticks so that it can stop the blood flow.
The bleeding should stop within a couple of minutes. But if bleeding doesn’t stop after about five minutes, call your vet to find out what you need to do next.7
Nervous About Trimming Dog Nails? Consider A Professional Dog Groomer
Many pet owners simply can’t bring themselves to trim their dog’s nails. They either don’t want to struggle with their pet, or they’re too worried about making a mistake. There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way.
At the same time, however, you need to make arrangements to find a professional dog groomer. Your vet may have some recommendations.
Whether you choose a groomer or trim your dog’s nails on your own, just make sure your beloved companion’s nails are trimmed on a regular basis. It will make your dog’s life a lot easier.
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