Trimming your dog’s nails is an important part of your dog's regular care. Learn how to trim your dog's nails with help from our grooming expert.
By Kathy Salzberg | Posted: December 4, 2012, 8 a.m.
Trimming your dog’s nails is a necessary chore and should be done every three or four weeks. You can do it yourself or have a groomer or vet clip your dog's nails for you. Most groomers will be happy to show you how it’s done and it might be a good idea to do this the first time around. If your dog absolutely detests the process and it turns into a huge struggle, my advice is to let the pros do it. This unhappy scenario can be avoided by getting your dog used to having his paws handled when he’s a pup.Whether your little buddy knows it or not, he will be much better off if his nails are trimmed regularly and not allowed to become overgrown. The results are not pretty and can contribute to health concerns:
( We recommend you always have a pro show you how to do nails before you do. Just one bad nail clipping can make your pup fearful for life. Black nails can be hard for pros to do)Reasons to Clip Dog Nails
• Dog nails that grow too long may curl around the paw and puncture the footpad, causing pain and infection.
• They can also interfere with his normal gait, resulting in deformed feet that are splayed, nail breakage, bleeding and general discomfort in the feet, legs and hips because he cannot walk properly.
• Overgrown nails will cause him to rock back on his paws, causing a strain on his joints and ligaments.
Ideally, nails should be short enough that they don’t click on the floor. Folks who show dogs trim them extremely short, but active everyday pets need a little traction as they go about their daily adventures. For most dogs, the front nails will grow longer than the rear nails because dogs tend to "push off” from their rear, naturally wearing them down. Trimming or grinding the nails every two weeks should keep them adequately short, but if you are looking to recede the quick, doing it on a weekly basis would work best.
Dog Nail Trimming ToolsThere are two types of nail trimmers you can use, the pliers type and the guillotine variety. I usually recommend the pliers version because that is what I use in the salon. If you would prefer to use a dremmel tool to grind your dog's nails,
You can cut your dog’s nails anywhere, but for smaller dogs it’s easier to do the job with your dog on a grooming table rather than in your lap or on the floor. If you don’t have a grooming table, any table will do, but you will want to enlist the help of a friend or family member to help hold the dog. They can also help relax and calm the dog for the pedicure process.
1. With the pet on the grooming table, begin with the rear paws. Face away from the dog and hold the paw. Use your body weight to gently keep him in place.
2. Lift the paw only as far as needed, being careful not to twist the leg and cause injury.
3. "Tip” each nail, removing only the curved portion to avoid cutting the quick.
4. Trim off any additional length, still being careful to avoid the quick.
5. Moving to the front paws, stand by the dog’s front end and lift each one so that you are looking down on the upturned foot, similar to shoeing a horse.
6. "Tip” each nail and trim any excess.
7. To keep those sharp newly-cut nails from scratching your legs, file them with a large emery board or nail file to smooth them down.
8. Praise your dog lavishly once the job is done and reward him with a tasty treat!
"Quick" FactThe quick is the vein inside each nail that will bleed if you nick it. If the nails are dark, you cannot see it but if they are white, it will be a pink portion inside. On a dark nail, look at the cut nail, if you see a dark circle in the nail’s center, that marks the quick and you have gone far enough.
It is always a good idea to have styptic powder on hand because sometimes accidental nicks do happen. It’s not a big deal and a dab of styptic powder will stop the bleeding, but it can cause the dog to be leery of the process because it can hurt, just like it hurts you if you cut your nail too close and pinch the skin beneath.