How can I Trim my Dog’s Nails?

dog with tongue out

It is important to trim your dog’s nails on a regular basis to ensure the good health of your pet. A dog’s nails that are allowed to grow too long can interfere with his ability to walk and run properly,which in turn can lead to severe health complications. Fortunately, with a little practice and patience you can trim your dog’s nails at home without the help of a veterinarian or groomer.

Before you trim your dog’s nails you will need some supplies. First, purchase quality nail clippers that are intended for use on dogs. Dog nail clippers come in different sizes so make sure that you get the ones appropriate for the size of your dog. Nail clippers sized for small dogs like a Chihuahua will be totally ineffective on a large breed such as a Rottweiler. You should also have on hand some cotton balls, cotton swabs or clean towel in case you cut your dog’s nails too short and they begin to bleed.

dog on a bed

Before you begin, examine your dog’s nails to determine the appropriate length to cut. The top side of the nail will be smooth and curved downward and the underside will be slightly concave and v-shaped. Next, locate the quick which is the sensitive flesh inside the nail. The quick will be easy to see if your dog’s nails are white or lightly colored and more difficult if they are dark or black. To locate the quick in dark colored nails, determine from the underside of the nail where the flesh ends. Looking at the underside of the nail you will only want to trim the part that is hollow.

Put the clippers around the dog’s nails allowing enough space so that you don’t cut the quick. When you are sure you are far enough from the quick squeeze the clippers and – voila! Note that if your dog’s nails have not been trimmed in a while, the quick may be very close to the end. In this case you cannot trim the dog’s nails immediately to an appropriate length. Trim as much as possible and then let them grow for a couple of weeks and trim them again. After regular trimming the quick will recede and they will reach a more manageable length.

brown dog with tongue out

If you happen to trim your dog’s nails too short and they begin to bleed, you have cut the quick. Don’t feel too bad though; even veterinarians and experienced groomers accidentally cut the quick on a dog’s nails from time to time. If this happens, the nail will bleed a lot but it is not a serious injury. Use cotton swabs or balls to apply pressure to the nail to help stop the bleeding if your dog will allow it. Cutting your dog’s nails too short will be painful for him and may cause him to distrust you in future nail trimming sessions. If you cut the quick, it’s a good idea to stop trimming the rest of the nails and give your dog some time to recover.

Some dogs are extremely fearful of having their nails cut regardless of whether or not you have cut them too short in the past. These dogs usually dislike having their paws touched at all. You can condition your dog to tolerate having his feet touched and nails trimmed in only a few training sessions.

When your dog is calm and relaxed have him lie down. Offer him several small pieces of his favorite treat while you or someone else massages his paws and nails. After a while your dog will be oblivious to having his paws touched even without the treats. At this point you should be able to trim your dog’s nails with ease. This technique works well for dogs that have had bad experiences with past nail trimmings also.

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