Is your dog making annoying clicking noises everywhere he walks? Does it seem like he is having pain when walking? It may be time to learn about cutting dog's nails at home, and in particular – how to do it safely.
When you bring your dog to the groomer, they usually do this for you. Some vets will cut your dog's nails as well. Those looking to save money or don’t seek regular professional pet grooming sessions will benefit from learning how to clip dog's nails themselves.
The first few times are difficult. We have a video on how to start grooming your dog at home, where you'll learn all the basics of general dog grooming and your pet's needs.
You will get better with practice. Most people feel nervous about clipping dog's nails, but the process is quick and easy once you know every step of the way. Those who never cut their dog's nails, here's another video on how to cut dog nails – you'll find this helpful.
In this article, I want to briefly discuss the safety of cutting dog's nails at home. Most dogs do not like getting their nails trimmed, although there are a few who don’t mind at all. Follow these tips to keep your dog still and stable. This prevents injury to the dog, and helps you keep your cool. It makes this dreaded task a little easier.
TEST VIDEO: Comparing Best Pet Nail Clippers for Dogs
6 Safety Tips for Cutting Dog's Nails at Home
There are many ways to trim your dog’s nails. The way you decide which works best for you is going by your budget first, as well as your dog’s behavior, breed, personality and your experience and ability at cutting dog's nails.
There are a variety of dog grooming tools that you can use to cut dog's nails, including:
- Dog nail clippers – Make sure you get pet nail clippers that are designed for dogs specifically. You can’t cut your canine's nails with clippers for people or even those for cats. All dog nail clippers come in different sizes, styles, and prices, and are great for dogs who don’t like the sounds of electric devices.
- Nail file pads – This item sits on the floor and dogs can use it themselves. It works like a scratching post for cats. They take more time at first, as you need to train your pet to use it. Once your pup gets the hang of it, these file pads will save time because you won't need to clip the nails anymore, but most find them ineffective.
- Dog nail grinders – If you have ever had a professional manicure, you have probably seen these. They simply grind the nail down with a file that spins automatically. Make sure you use a safety grinder specifically for dogs. Grinders can make cutting dog's nails easier and prevent the issue of cutting into the quick.
- Blood clotting agent – No matter how careful you are, you may hit the quick at one time or another. This happens to every owner trying to cut dog's nails now and again. Blood clotting agents made of styptic powder should always be close by.
The above four make up the basic dog grooming tools you need to have at home, and you're usually set with just one dog nail clipper (whichever works best) and a styptic powder/blood clotting agent.
For more ideas, take a look at this list of 20 cheap dog grooming tools that most DIY home groomers use now and again.
If you're seriously afraid of cutting your dog's nail quick, watch the below video first.
FULL GUIDE: How To Stop Dog Nail Bleeding
2. Know the Anatomy of Your Dog’s Paws
You need to know how your dog's paws and feet are designed if you want to learn about cutting dog's nails safely. Some parts of dog's feet are more sensitive or prone to injury, so it's necessary to keep in mind what you can and cannot do.
Here's a brief rundown of the four most important parts of the canine paw:
- Dew claws – These are smaller claws farther up on the dog’s leg. They do not touch the floor. According to some experts, dogs have these because they are a throwback to ancient canine species. Many dog owners will just have these removed, but it is not necessary unless your pet becomes obsessed with chewing on them.
- The quick – If you are a nail biter, you already know what this is. You also know that if you cut the nail into the quick, it's painful and it bleeds. You can see where the quick starts in a dogs nail by looking on the underneath of the nail. If the dog has dark colored nails, you cannot see the quick. It is recommended to cut the nail using several small clips to avoid hitting the quick.
- The nail – This is the dead tissue that you want to cut off. When you look at the underside of a dog’s nail, the dead part of the nail will have a lighter color. Where the quick starts, it will get darker. This is harder to see in a canine with dark nails, which is why you have to be especially careful with them.
- Pads – The pads of the dog's foot are the soft fleshy part on the bottom of your dog’s feet. They are usually dark color, but not always. Canines have one pad for each claw, and then a big one under the toe joints.
Understanding all of the four major parts of the dog's paws and nails helps an owner to distinguish between the areas that are allowed to be groomed and those that are not.
3. Start Your Dog Young
If you start young when the puppy is more complacent and easy to handle, he will be used to it when he is older and the task of cutting dog's nails gets a little more difficult.
Just like human kids, when young puppies grow and form, they will adjust and accept things you teach them and put them through as something that's part of life. Grooming an older dog that hasn't adjusted to this will be much more difficult.
The same applies to general grooming, not just cutting dog's nails. As an example, watch this video on how to keep a dog calm during grooming and bathing sessions for more.
4. Use a Regular or Dog Grooming Table
Most pet owners start cutting dog's nails on the floor, but it's not the most efficient way to go about this. If you can afford it, get a dog grooming table, there are some cheap ones. If not, just your regular table at home will make the task much easier.
By using a table for cutting dog's nails, you can simply stand behind him as he lays on his side. This is how professional dog groomers do it as it's the most effective way.
Using a table for cutting dog's nails makes it easier to get to the nail itself, but you can also lay over the dog using your body weight to keep him still during the process. Try and see what makes it more comfortable for your dog first where he's going to stay still.
5. Go for Walks on Specific Surface
Going for regular walks on specific terrain can actually help the process, although it will not remove all of the dead nail on your dog. Nevertheless, it's still worth it. Especially since professional dog grooming prices can be expensive.
Concrete and asphalt in particularly help to keep most canine’s nails worn down and shorter. The more your dog walks on these types of surfaces, the less you will need to trim the nails with tools. However, dog nail grooming is still needed (just not as often).
RELATED: How Often Should You Groom Your Dog?
6. Ask Your Vet or Local Groomer
After that, when we started clipping our dog's nails ourselves at home, we were more confident because we had some training from our vet.
The same applies to professional pet groomers. If you have one locally, they will usually be very helpful and happy in assisting you and showing you how to do something dog grooming related yourself. There are probably some who won't due to potential loss of business, but it never hurts to ask.
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