Let’s be honest – one of the toughest parts of keeping your dog well-groomed is keeping up with their nails. It’s not necessarily that most people don’t know what to do about their dogs’ nails, but rather than doing the job just seems unpleasant. It’s a task that not only feels very risky but one that can really stress your dog out.
There are some lucky dog owners, of course, who don’t have to worry about trimming their dog’s nails. If your dog is a frequent runner, for example, he or she will likely take care of his or her nails on his or her own. Other dogs, however, are going to need you to trim their nails regularly. If you’re not willing to take your dog to a groomer to get the job done, you’re going to need to learn how to do it on your own.
The great news is that trimming your dog’s nails really isn’t as hard as you might think. It might not be your dog’s favorite thing to do, of course, but it is something that almost any dog owner can accomplish with the right tools and a little bit of effort. If you’ve ever been afraid to trim your dog’s nails, this guide will teach you everything that you need to know.
The Tools of the Trade
If you’re going to trim your dog’s nails, you’ll have to start by getting the right tools. Fortunately, you can find almost everything you need from pet supply companies that you trust.
As you might expect, you’ll need to start off this project by getting some good dog nail clippers. Good nail clippers are designed specifically for dogs and can cut through their nails with ease. There are two basic styles of clippers – the scissor and guillotine – but either one of them is going to be fine for your purposes. You could also opt for a dog nail grinder, if you prefer. Your goal is to get something that’s sturdy and that feels like it’s going to last because you are going to be using these tools for a long time.
The other major tool you’ll need with you is a good bag of dog treats. This isn’t exactly the most fun project on which you can embark with your dog, so having some treats around will make the whole ordeal a little easier. You can also make sure to use these cookies as a training tool, so try to get something that you’re comfortable using during the training process.
Preparing to Trim
One of the most important things you can do is to get your dog prepared to have his or her feet trimmed. If you’re lucky, your dog doesn’t mind having his or her feet touched. If not, though, you’re going to have to slowly get your dog ready from that process. If you have a chance, you’ll start early by handling your dog’s feet so that he or she thinks of it as normal. If not, you’ll want to go slowly and give your dog some treats so that he or she is less nervous about the whole ordeal.
If you’ve got a particularly active dog, there is a secret trick you can use to make your job a little easier. Let them outside to play for a while – get their favorite toy and throw it around or even go on a run. Make sure that you do everything you can to tire your dog out so that you don’t get quite as much of a fight when you get ready to start trimming.
Finally, consider bringing in some outside help. It’s not a bad idea to have someone else present to help hold your dog still, especially if you have a larger dog. This person can help you to keep your dog safe and still while you cut, helping you to minimize the chance of any kind of accidents.
How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails
Now that you’re well-prepared to trim your dog’s nails, you can get down to the process of getting the job done. The hardest part is actually getting things started – once you get a good rhythm going, you’ll be able to get the job done in no time. Take a deep breath, then start taking the following steps.
The First Cut
As you might expect, the first cut is the most important part of this whole process. It’s going to set the tone for the rest of your trimming experience, so make sure to take the time to do it right.
You’ll start out by picking one of your dog’s toes. Find the toe in question, and grip it tight – not tight enough to hurt your dog, but tight enough to keep it isolated. Then simply take your trimmer and line it up with the curve of your dog’s nail. Position the trimmer near the tip so that you cut a very small length – this will show you how the trimmer works, prove to your dog that he or she won’t get hurt, and allow you to get used to what it feels like to cut your dog’s nails.
Continuing the Trim
Before you move on, you’ll want to establish to what length your dog’s nails are going to be cut. You’ll want to stick with that first nail, cutting down until you start to see the first stages of a dark circle. This is actually a vein in your dog’s nail, called the quick. Your goal is to stop cutting before you get to this point so that you can avoid making your dog bleed. Cut down to just above the quick, then move on to the next nail in order.
While you’ll eventually get to the point where you can go through this nail-cutting process quickly and easily, you’ll want to take your time with the first cut. Do small cuts on each individual nail so that you can avoid cutting your dog’s quick and so that you can show him that the whole job can be done painlessly. Your goal here really needs to be to get the job done without upsetting your dog, so don’t feel bad if it takes you much longer than you expected to finish getting the job done.
Dealing with Blood
What happens if you do manage to cut your dog’s quick while you’re cutting your dog’s nails?
The good news is that you probably didn’t do any major damage. Your dog is going to yelp and want to pull away, but your job will be to make sure that you stop the nail bleeding as quickly as you can. While some people use rags to staunch the flow of blood, your real best friend here is going to be corn starch. Take a bit of corn starch and hold it on the wound – it should stop bleeding very quickly, reducing the mess and getting your dog back to normal. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, though, you might need to get to your vet.
As a note, it’s very easy to stop clipping at this point. If you do that, though, your dog is going to associate the whole nail cutting process with pain and he or she will know that yelping can get him or her out of getting a trim in the future. As hard as it is, you should work to calm your dog down and then go back to clipping the rest of his or her nails.
Smoothing Out the Nails
This last step is optional, but it’s still a good idea for many dog owners. When your dog’s done getting a trim, he or she is probably going to have a few ragged edges as a result of your cutting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – your dog will file down the ragged edges while walking, so you’ll get rid of the problem in time. Until that happens, though, your dog’s feet are likely to get caught on fabric and he or she might not be quite as fleet-footed as he or she normally is. Luckily, you can solve this problem with a very simple instrument.
If you have an emery board, you’ve got everything you need to smooth out your dog’s nails. Simply file them down as you would with human nails, getting rid of all of the sharp edges as you go. If you want a solution that’s a bit more high-tech, you can go with a good grinder to help with the smoothing-out process. Your dog might have a little trouble holding still for this, but it will make his or her life easier when you are done.
Learning How to Use Dog Nail Clippers
At the end of the day, learning how to use a pair of clippers is something that’s going to be good for both you and for your dog. You’ll be able to save some money by doing the job on your own and your dog will always have neatly trimmed nails. Though it can be tough to get started with this task, you will find that mastery does come with a little bit of time and patience.