Trimming your dog’s nails is not usually considered sharing “quality time” with your beloved pet. But when done often enough, with proper technique, and rewards for your dog’s good behavior, it should be one of those regular grooming events that your dog will tolerate if not look forward to.
If not done often enough, with proper technique, and reward- training, it can be frightening and even painful for your dog. In this article are answers to many common dog nail clipping questions as well as tips on proper equipment and technique that will give you advantage when you approach this simple home dog-grooming necessity.
Is dog nail trimming painful to my dog?
Dog nail trimming is not painful if you use a sharp nail trimmer and don’t clip nails too short. A dull trimmer can put a lot of pressure on your dog's toenail before it actually cuts through nail. If this happens your dog may feel an uncomfortable pinching sensation. This is because vein in toenail is being squeezed. To avoid this always make sure that you're using a sharp pet nail trimmer.
What tools do I need to trim my dog’s nails?
You will want to have a sharp clipper designed for dog nail trimming. Dogs come in all sizes so choose a nail trimmer that’s right for size of your pet’s nails. The most common types of nail trimmers are guillotine, pliers and scissor styles.
Guillotine style dog nail trimmers require that dog’s nail be inserted through a hole in top of trimmer. As handles are squeezed together blade comes down and cuts through nail. Many people find guillotine style clippers more difficult to use on large breed dogs. Thicker nails can be more difficult to insert into guide hole in clipper. These dog nail trimmers have a cutting blade that must be changed frequently to maintain a nice clean cut.
Pliers style dog nail trimmers work similar to pruning shears. The two notched blades surround and cut through nail as handles are squeezed together. Some people like this style because they can see exactly where blade will cut through nail. If you have a large dog this type of trimmer works great on thick nails.
Just make sure to select a heavy-duty clipper designed to cut through thick toenails of your large breed dog. Pliers style trimmers are available for small, medium and large dogs. These dog nail trimmers don’t have blades that need to be replaced but they do need to be sharpened when they become dull.
Scissor style dog nail trimmers work just like a pair of scissors. The two scissor-like notched blades surround and cut through nail as handles are closed. These clippers are for light duty jobs only. These are not actually dog nail trimmers. They are best used for cats, birds and other small animals. Some people do use them on small dogs. They’re usually labeled as cat/bird claw clippers.
The style you choose for your dog nail trimming needs is a matter of personal preference. If clipper is correct size it will get job done. Just remember to keep your nail trimmer sharp so that it makes a fast clean cut. A dull clipper can pinch nail, which will result in discomfort to your dog.
In addition to good quality nail trimmers, it is also recommended to have a pet nail file. You’ll find that it is much easier to file down any rough edges with a nail file that has been designed for shape of your dog’s nails.
Next on list is styptic powder. It’s always a good idea to have it on hand for those occasional mishaps. A nail clipped just a little too short tends to bleed a lot. Applying some styptic powder will help stop bleeding.
Finally, keep plenty of dog treats on hand to reward good behavior. You can also use dog treats to distract your pet during dog nail trimming. Treats work great to draw a dog's attention away from a bleeding nail.
Why do my dog’s nails need to be trimmed regularly?
When a dog’s nails become too long they interfere with dog’s gait and as nails continue to grow, walking will become awkward and painful. Untrimmed nails can also split resulting in a great deal of pain, bleeding, and a trip to veterinarian’s office. In severe cases a dog’s nails can curl under and grow into pad of dog’s paw causing a very serious and painful infection. These types of ingrown nail problems are most common on dewclaws.
The dewclaws are nails located on inside of paw. Many breeders have dewclaws removed shortly after puppies are born, so not all dogs will have dewclaws. If your dog has them remember to include them in your dog nail trimming routine. These nails don’t touch ground, so they don’t wear down as fast as others as your dog walks on rough surfaces. Trimming your dog’s nails regularly will easily prevent these problems.
How do I know when my dog’s nails need to be trimmed?
When your dog’s nails are beginning to curve is one indication that your dog’s nails need a trim. And if you hear a clicking or tapping sound as your dog walks across a bare floor it’s definitely time for a nail trimming. But it is best not to wait that long – once or twice a month is usually a good rule of thumb for dog nail trimming.
If you let your dog’s nails grow too long then it could take some time to get them back to a healthy length again. Regularly trimming tips of your dog’s nails is best approach. Some dogs walk and run on rough surfaces and are able to wear down their nails, but most dogs will need some help. You will get to know how fast your dog’s nails grow if you routinely inspect your pet’s nails.
Even if you don’t actually trim them each time, regular inspection will help assure that your dog’s feet stay healthy. So, make nail inspection and trimming an important part of your dog’s routine grooming.
When should I start trimming my dog’s nails?
If you’re starting with a puppy answer is as soon as you bring your new puppy home. If you have an adult or an older dog answer is pretty much same – right now. If you start early it probably will not take too long for your puppy to adjust to a nail trimming routine. Make a habit of handling your puppy’s feet everyday. Nail trimming will be much easier if your puppy doesn’t mind having his feet handled.
Adult dogs, just like people, are usually set in their ways. So if your adult dog initially resists getting his nails trimmed you will most likely need to spend a lot more time getting him used to procedure. As with a puppy, it’s a good idea to start getting your dog used to having his feet handled before you attempt to clip your dog’s nails. Be very patient and don’t rush into procedure.