Possibly the most intimidating home grooming task is cutting your dog's nails. It is actually fairly simple and safe, as long as you know what you're doing. Most owners are worried about clipping a nail a bit too short, but that's inevitable – it's going to happen at least once, no matter how careful you are. And don't think that his nails will wear down on their own. Cutting your dog's nails is an absolute must!
The quick inside your dog's nail is very sensitive, and it contains nerves and blood vessels. If you do trim the nail too short it will be painful for your pet and the quick will bleed. The pain will not be unbearable. Your dog will still be able to walk normally, although putting pressure on the paw will be a bit uncomfortable.
The first thing you need to understand is that cutting quick is not going to be the worst thing in the world. It will happen, and you need to accept that. Don't let the fear of it keep you from cutting your dog's nails. Having the right set of dog nail clippers can help you avoid some mistakes, but generally, be prepared for this to happen.
Of course, you want to make sure that it happens as few times as possible. As the nail grows, the quick lengthens. As you trim the nail, the quick will recede. Keeping your dog's nails properly trimmed will make him more comfortable and keep the quick from growing too long.
VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS: How To Cut Dog’s Nails 101 – A Step by Step Guide
6 Tips for Cutting Your Dog's Nails
1. DogsNaturally Magazine
Yes, it's true that running and playing outside will shorten your dog's toenails a bit. Unless he's running on rough terrain, cement or pavement all the time, it's not likely that everyday wear will keep his nails short enough. If you don't trim your dog's nails regularly, it will cause pain and could lead to health issues.
DogsNaturally Magazine explains the dangers of untrimmed nails and shares some tips for cutting your dog's nails in this post.
- The first consequence of long toenails is painful feet. When a dog’s toenails contact hard ground, like a sidewalk or your kitchen floor, the hard surface pushes the nail back up into the nail bed. This either puts pressure on all the toe joints or forces the toe to twist to the side. Either way, those toes become very sore, even arthritic. When the slightest touch is painful to your dog, he will fuss when you pick up his paw to cut nails.
2. Love That Pet
If you're more of a visual learner, check out this article by LoveThatPet.com. There is a great infographic and videos which incorporate many different tips for cutting your dog's nails. One of the best tips they give is to start with some dog treats. You want your dog to associate nail clipping with happy thoughts, and what could be better than dog treats?
- The first step is to get some treats, make the whole experience positive and don’t feel like you need to be a hero and trim all the nails at once. Start with one, reward and come back later if you or your pet is nervous.
3. Wahl explains everything you need to know about cutting your dog's nails
Wahl is one of the top makers of professional quality dog grooming products. From clippers to nails trimmers, they make it all. The company's website also has a very informative blog that covers all topics related to dog grooming. This post discusses clipping your dog's nails, and it explains why it is so important to start slowly and gradually get your pet comfortable with having his nails clipped.
- As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on.
4. Caring Hands Animal Hospital
Most people agree that if your dog has white toenails they will be easier to clip than black nails. This is because the quick is normally very easy to see through the nail. You can see where it ends and clip accordingly. This article from Caring Hands Animal Hospital explains:
- White and tan colored nails are considered by many to be easier to trim. If you have a dog with white feet and white nails, consider yourself lucky! In younger dogs with white nails, the quick is generally easy to see from the side of the nail. Trim a little at a time, looking both at the side of the nail and at the cut surface. In white nails, the cut surface will turn pink just before reaching the quick. This is where you should stop. See the slide show below to see the correct placement of the clippers and what the nail should look like when trimmed correctly.
5. Dr. Karen Becker talks nail cutting for Mercola
If you follow my columns regularly, you know that I often turn to Dr. Karen Becker for information. Not only is she extremely knowledgeable, she has a way of explaining things in simple terms without all the professional veterinary jargon.
This article for HealthyPets.Mercola.com shares many tips for cutting your dog's nails and also discusses the importance of desensitization. There is also a great 9 minute video to help explain things a little better.
- If the only time you touch your dog's paws is to trim her nails, it gives the dog reason for concern. Every time you take hold of her paw she's thinking, “Oh no. It's coming. The dreaded thing that sometimes hurts.”Another really important thing I want you to remember is when you trim your dog's nails, you can always go back and take a bit more off if you leave one too long – but you can't reattach a nail if you cut it too close.
6. What if you cut the quick?
Puppy Leaks is an easy-to-read blog that is filled with information on all types of common dog-related questions that owners may have. This bog is well-written and the posts are always accompanied with pictures that help you understand the information easier. This blog post is dedicated to what you should do if you accidentally cut the quick inside your dog's toenail.
The most common way to stop the bleeding is with styptic powder, but there are some home remedies you can use too.
- Styptic powders or styptic pencils are antihemorrhagic agents that work by contracting the blood vessels. If you don’t have any styptic powder on hand and you trim your dogs nails regularly it’s not a bad idea to pick some up next time you’re at the pharmacy or pet store…Styptic powder is used by veterinarians and groomers to stop bleeding. It containsBenzocaine that works as a topical anesthetic to help ease the pain as well as having ferric subsulfate which stops the bleeding.