How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Save Money and DIY

Many dog owners grimace at the thought of trimming their beloved dog’s nails. The fear of inflicting pain on poor old Fido can force even the most responsible pet owner to forego partaking in the essential grooming activity.

While it’s certainly understandable that many people are reluctant to trim their dog’s nails because they are afraid of cutting them too short, there’s really no need to fear what can become a bonding ritual for you and your pet.

Learning to your dog’s nails will save you money, and your dog will thank you for one less trip to the vet or groomer.

Choosing the right nail trimmer.

Generally, nail trimmers will come in two types. The first type works like a guillotine. You will place the nail into a ring-like opening and squeeze the handle to move the blade across the nail.

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This type of trimmer is great for smaller breeds. Many people might choose to use this type when taking their first stab at trimming their dog’s nails, as this it appears less dangerous to use than the other type.

The other common variety of nail trimmer is a scissor trimmer. As the name implies, this type looks and works much like a pair of scissors. You will place the trimmers around your dog’s nail and cut through it as if you were cutting with scissors.

The nail trimmer is designed much like a small hand pruner. This type is great to use with large dogs that have thick nails. Many models of this type have a safety guard built in that will only allow you to remove a small amount of the nail, thus reducing the risk of cutting into the dog’s quick.

Time to Trim.

Now that know your options for trimmers, you’re ready to get down to business. You might need someone to assist you if your dog is not cooperative. Have your dog lay on its side.

You can wrap your upper body around your dog as you reach around and grab a paw. If you’re unsure how your dog will react, do enlist someone to help restrain your pup.

If your dog has white or light colored nails, you are in luck because you can easily see the quick. The quick is the pink area of blood vessels and nerves in the nail. If you cut into this, your dog will bleed.

Make sure to keep styptic powder or some other dying agent nearby just incase you cut the nail too short. This will quickly stop the bleeding. It can be found at any pet supply store. Just ask an associate to help you locate it if you are unsure.

If your dog has dark nails, you do need to be more cautious, and trim the nail little by little until you can see where the quick is beginning.

When you being to get near the quick, you will see what looks like a gray and pink bulls-eye on the underside of the nail. Stop trimming at this point to avoid hitting the quick.

Once you’ve completed trimming all the nails, you can now file them down to get rid of any sharp edges.

Don’t forget to trim the dew claw if your dog has them (some have dogs have these removed at birth). They are located above the paw on the inside of the leg.

Remember, the more you trim your dog’s nails, the more comfortable he will be with the process. If you get your dog as a puppy, you have the perfect opportunity to set up a nail trimming regiment that will alleviate any unnecessary stress on you and your dog.

Make your pet’s first experience with the nail trimmer positive. If you remain calm, your dog is less likely to get wiggly or turn the entire experience into a struggle. It’s always nice to reward your pet with a treat or walk (or both) after you have finished.

This way, you can condition your dog to equate getting his nails trimmed as a step to getting a much-deserved treat.

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Should you think that your pet needs medical attention, please contact your local veterinarian.  
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