Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
By Shelley Williams
Does the mere thought of trimming your dog’s nails make you nervous? Have no fear. Here are some easy-to-follow steps that make the procedure quick and painless for both you and your dog.
Nail trimming is an important part of your dog grooming routine that should be done on a regular basis. Untrimmed nails can crack or, worse, grow circular into your dog’s pad, which is very painful and can lead to infection. When trimming your dog’s nails, it’s important to make it a pleasurable experience for her.
Types of Nail Trimmers
There are two types of nail trimmers: guillotine- and scissor-style. Guillotine-style nail trimmers have a small hole where the tip of the nail goes into and a blade that moves upward to trim the nail.
The scissor-type is exactly like scissors. You place your dog’s nail between the blades and trim it. You can find a pair that will work best for you at your local pet supply store.
When using scissor-style trimmers, place the cutting blades around the portion of the nail you’re going to cut. If using guillotine-style nail trimmers, hold the clipper below the nail and push the portion of the nail through the opening. When cutting, try to do so quickly. Otherwise, your dog will feel the pressure and try to pull her paws away. Don’t forget to trim the dewclaws as well. Most dogs (and cats) have dewclaws on their front legs, but some dogs might have them on the back legs as well, so it’s always a good idea to check.
You should also purchase an anticoagulant, such as Kwik-Stop, in case you cut the nail’s quick (the nail’s pink, which is the innermost sensitive part that contains blood vessels and nerves). If this happens, apply a pinch of the anticoagulant directly to the nail and add pressure until the bleeding stops.
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How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails
- Teach your dog to associate nail trimming with something she loves.
- Touch and play with her feet and pads to get her used to handling. This will help when it comes time to trim nails. Your dog will be less likely to pull away.
- The most important thing to remember is to take it nice and slow. Start with just holding your dog’s paw and touching a toe, then reward with a treat. Continue this for a couple of days until your dog is relaxed and sees this as a rewarding experience.
Most dogs don’t like having their nails trimmed and who can blame them? Trimming can cause discomfort when the clippers squeeze or slightly twist nails. However, you can avoid this with proper equipment handling.
Trimming Clear Nails
Clipping nails with no consideration will most likely lead to cutting the quick. How do you avoid doing this? For dogs with clear nails, the quick is visible and you should only trim the white or the tip of the nail. When you start getting close to the pink, you should stop.
Trimming Black Nails
Black nails can be intimidating, but it’s actually much easier to see the quick head on these nails. If your dog’s nails are dark-colored and you can’t see the quick through them, you will need to determine how short you can cut the nail by making your first cut at the very tip of the nail. Then, look directly at the nail, inspecting it head-on. The nail’s black shell is made of keratin, which is a tough, insoluble protein.
As you make small, careful cuts, you will see a white chalky substance. As you continue, you should see a dark or black dot in the very center of the nail–this is the blood vessel where you stop cutting.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to have a second person around to help calm your dog while you work on her nails. If your dog exhibits signs of distress or aggression, it’s best to seek professional guidance from a groomer or veterinarian.