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29 June 2021

How to trim your dog’s nails safely?

Trimming your dog’s nails is an important part of dog care process. To know how to trim your dog’s nails safely read the entire blog post.

In this article, I will discuss how to trim your dog’s nails. The article will focus on how you should cut your pup’s nails, the tools you will need for the same and finally some bonus tips to make the process easy for you and less stressful for your pup. The purpose is to make this process fun, engaging and risk free for your dog and you.

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Tools needed to trim the nails of your dog:

  • For your dog’s pedicure, you only need a few items like:
  • Nail clippers for dogs
  • Styptic powder (cornstarch or flour)
  • A yummy treat
How to trim your dog's nails safely?

Types of nail clippers available for dogs:

There are many types of nail trimmers available for dog guardians. Some dog guardians might find the guillotine type clippers favorable. However, most experienced dog guardians and veterinary professionals prefer to use the plier style nail clippers or the spring-loaded type ones. Some of the nail clipper brands even come with a guard so that you don’t land up cutting too much of your dog’s nails.

Scissor clippers:

These clippers bear similarity to the regular scissors but these have shorter and sturdier blades. Depending on the thickness and size of the nails, this type of trimmers may work for larger breed dogs.

Guillotine clippers:

These clippers have a loop where the nail is inserted. Squeeze the clipper and the blade will cut through the nail. These type of clippers are best suited for dogs of small breeds.

Grinders:

These nail trimming tools like the Dremmels are best if you have a fidgety pup. These gently and slowly file your dog’s nails. With these type of grinders, there is a reduced risk of chipping your dog’s nail. Focus on the grinders or dremmels which are specific for dogs.

The plier or scissor style nail clippers are safe to use on both the dogs belonging to large as well as small breeds. However, if your pup belongs to a small breed it might be better to use nail clippers which are made for cats or small pooches.

If your dog is very small or young in age, you can also use human nail clipppers. However, there is a risk with human nail clippers that you might land up cutting too much. Therefore, it is easier to go for trimmers or dremmels which are specific for dogs.

Use a lot of treats

Using a ton of treats will help keep your dog calm as well as keep his or her mind averted from the whole process of nail trimming.

Styptic powder

Styptic powder is a dry medicinal powder which can stop bleeding quickly in case you land up cutting too much of your dog’s nail. Styptic powder will help stop the bleeding soon so that you can protect your dog’s nails. If you do not have styptic powder, you can also use flour or cornstarch.

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How can you cut your dog’s nail safely?

The best way to get your dog used to having his or her nails trimmed is to first get your dog used to the sound and sight of the nail clippers before you even try to cut the nails. This process needs to be done in baby steps. It may take you a few days to a week to get your dog accustomed to the feel and sound of the nail clippers. Bring the nail clippers out, click them and let your dog smell them on various occasions, but don’t cut your dog’s nails to get. Just allow him or her to get used to the feeling of the nail clipper. Furthermore, whenever your dog shows signs of not being scared of the nail clippers, shower him or her with lots of treats. This will ensure the formation of a positive association with the nail clippers in your dog’s mind.

Once your dog is accustomed to the feel, sight and sound of the nail clippers, you can start to cut your dog’s nails.

How to safely trim your dog’s nails?

Find a quiet area where your dog will not face many distractions.

If your dog belongs to small breed, you can place your dog on your lap or you can put your dog on a straight surface. If your dog belongs to a large breed or if your dog is difficult to control, ask for the assistance of someone whom your dog knows to hold your dog while you cut the nails.

Firmly yet gently hold one of your dog’s paws in between your forefinger and thumb

Make sure you are able to see the entire nail without any hair blocking the view. If needed, you can push down a little on the paw to extend the nail for a clearer view.

When your dog stops fidgeting and calms down, clip the nails straight. Remember the clipping must be done across the nail tip. Do not try to clip the nail behind the nail’s natural curve.

Throughout the duration of clipping the nails, keep offering a lot of high-value treats to your dog. This will teach your dog to associate to the process of nail trimming with lots of rewards. This positive reinforcement will help in future nail trimming sessions.

Filing your dog’s nails

The purpose of filing your dog’s nails is to remove any chipped nail or sharp tips which are generally left after clipping. If any sharp fragments are left on the nail, your dog may hurt himself or herself during the scratching process. He or she may even hurt you during interaction or play time. To file your dog’s nails, follow the following steps:

First take a nail file or and hold your dog’s paw gently while spreading the toes apart.

Use your dominant hand to hold the nail filer. Then gently rub the filer against any sharp edges to get a smooth finish.

How much should you cut your dog’s nails?

Remember to never cut the region behind the nails natural curve. This is the region where the ‘quick’ starts. The quick is referred to the central region of the nail which contains blood vessels as well as nerves. If by chance you land up cutting this region of your dog’s nails, it will hurt your dog and cause bleeding.

If you are new to cutting the nails of your dog or if you are worried that you might be cutting too close to quick, you can choose to leave the nail slightly long.

If during the process, you feel that you are hurting your dog or if you feel uncomfortable with the process, stop immediately and call your veterinarian for any further instructions

How to cut black nails?

Some dogs have white nails, some dogs have black nails and some dogs have a mixture of both. If your dog has black nails, it might be more of a challenge to cut these nails. Since black nails have natural pigments, it is difficult to find out where the quick exactly starts.

You can cut your dog’s black colored nails. while cutting, when you come across the white ring (chalk like) region, stop. It is better that you stop at this point since the white ring surrounds the beginning of the quick region. If you feel uncomfortable clipping your dog’s back nails, you can always book an appointment with your vet for your dog’s nail trimming process.

You can also consult with the employees of the veterinary clinic to teach you how to cut the black nails in the correct manner.

How often should dog’s nails be trimmed?

The time between two trims primarily depend on how quickly the dog’s nails grow back and how quickly are they worn down. On an average, the nails of your dog should be clipped every 3 to 4 weeks. However, if your dog has nails which grow faster, you can reduce the time between two trims. Remember, nails should be trimmed to a point where they should not touch the ground when your dog is standing.

If your dog belongs to small breed or is a lapdog with not much contact with the floor, you may need to trim their nails more often as these dog’s nails would suffer less wear-and-tear. However, if your dog enjoys and regularly goes outdoors, hikes, runs on the surfaces of pavement, gets more exposure towards the environment etc., in this case you may not need to groom your dog’s nails at all. The constant friction with the floor or ground may cause natural trimming of your dog’s nails.

What to do if your dog’s toenails start to bleed?

If your dog’s toenails start to bleed it can be very distressing for both you as well as your dog. Follow the following instructions to stop the bleeding:

Styptic powder helps to block the bleeding quickly. In case you do not have styptic powder at your home, you can use cornstarch or flour to stop the bleeding. These can be applied in the same manner as styptic powder.

  • Take a small amount of the powder on your fingertips and press it on the nail tip of your dog.
  • Keep the pressure on the nail for a few seconds to allow the powder to stick to the nail completely.
  • If the bleeding continues even after a few minutes, call your veterinarian and get assistance.

Alternative to nail cutting for dogs

The alternative to cutting your dog’s nails is trimming them down with a grinder like Dremel. The advantage of nail grinding is that it gives the guardian more control and helps you avoid hurting the quick region.

Grinders work as nail filers and keep you from leaving any sharp edges or causing a split in the nail. A split can lead to infection or bleeding.

Before you start to use a grinder on your dog’s paws, it is best If you get your pup used to the feel and noise of the Dremel. Remember to introduce it slowly and give our pups a ton of treats when you turn it on and use it on your boy or girl.

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Steps to grinding your dog’s nails:

1.      Hold the paw firmly. Keep your thump on top of the paw. Keep your remaining 4 fingers on the under of the paw region.

2.      Gently isolate a toe with your middle finger and thumb.

3.       Keep the grinder on a low speed and keep it on top of the nail for around 3 seconds.

4.       Repeat the same procedure on the other nails as well.

5.       If your dog is taking the steps so far smoothly, you can safely increase the speed and continue the process.

6.       When the nails reach a good length, you can start to work on rounding them off till they are smooth.

Remember to be mindful of the location of the quick.

If your dog has darker nail, stop the dremmeling process once you see the quick (white circle on top of the nail) appear.

Conclusion

Trimming your dog’s nails in the comfort of your home is a more cost effective and convenient process for the dog guardians as compared to visiting the groomer every 15 days. Overgrown nails can be very dangerous for dogs. It is very important to keep your dog’s nails short and clean.

In case you take the decision to cut your dog’s nails at home, make sure that you use the method which is most preferable to your pup. Be patient when trimming and give your dog plenty of treats and remember to go slow. Go slow since this process will be a learning curve for both you as well as your pup. In case you are unable to trim your dog’s nails or are facing trouble during the process, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian for help.

Have you tried to trim your dog’s nails at home? How was the experience? Which method do you use for your pup? How long did it take for you to get your pup used to the process> Any other tips and tricks you would like to share with the rest of the world? Please mention them in the comment section before and share it with all of us. If you found this post informative, please subscribe to the blog so I can send you dog care tips and tricks directly to your inbox.

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