Clipping Dog Nails

How to Safely Clip / Trim Your Dog's Nails

Trimming a dog’s nails is essential to its grooming routine. Untrimmed nails leave dogs vulnerable to painful broken nails. Ingrown nails are also a danger when a dog’s nails are not properly maintained.   

If your dog’s nails click against hard floors, they are too long. After learning a few simple rules, you’ll find that trimming your dog’s nails is very much like clipping your own.

Dog grooming, Dog Nail Clipping

Basic Guidelines For Dog Nail Trimming

Be sure to only trim the excess length and always avoid nerves and blood vessels.  This will ensure a painless trim process.

Dog Nail Terminology

The 'quick' is a blood vessel that runs down the middle of your dog's nail.  It grows as the nail grows, so if you wait a long time between cuttings, the quick will grow closer to the end of the nail. This means more likelihood of bleeding during trimming.

Tools For Trimming Dog Nails

You will need quality dog nail trimmers and some styptic powder Kwik-Stop, CutStop Styptic Pads or other product to stop bleeding just in case you nick the quick. (end of vein)

You can find these anywhere dog supplies are sold or by visiting PediPaws for an interesting new solution.

The Process - Basic Trimming Of Dog’s Nails

1. Seat your dog securely. Hold the paw firmly and push on his pads to extend the nail. Locate and avoid the quick. (in clear nails a pink color indicates where the quick ends)

2. Cut the nail below the quick on a 45-degree angle, with the cutting end of the nail clipper toward the end of the nail. With dark nails and larger dogs, you may want to start at the end of the nail and make a series of small clips.

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Detailed Instructions For Trimming Dog Nails

Continuously check for a black dot in the center of the nail. This is the start of the quick. With diligent trimming, the quick will retreat into the nail, allowing you to cut shorter each time.

In brittle nails, the cut may splinter. To smooth the nail, file the nail in a sweeping motion from the back, through curve and to the tip.

Do not forget the dewclaws, which can cause especially painful ingrown problems. They are 1” - 4" above the feet on the inner side of the legs.  

If you accidentally cut the quick, wipe off the blood and apply Kwik-Stop or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. This type of accidental injury is not serious and will heal in a very short time. Again, you can find these dog supplies at most pet supplies stores or visit PediPaws for a simple, painless, nail-trimming solution.

Clipping Dog Nails - Helpful Hints:

Mind the tolerance of your dog, and be sure to take breaks, if necessary. If your dog is not used to having his nails trimmed, start slowly, and gradually work up to simply holding his toes firmly for 15 - 30 seconds. Do not let him mouth or bite at you. 

It can take daily handling for a week or more to get some dogs used to this. When your dog tolerates having his feet held, clip just one nail, and if he is good, praise him and give him a tiny treat. Wait, and then at another time, do another nail. Continue until all nails have been trimmed. Slowly, you will be able to cut several nails in one sitting, and finally all the nails in one session.

Trim nails a small amount weekly, even if long walks keep them naturally short.   A regular trimming routine helps your dog get used to proper maintenance

Invest in a quality pair of dog nail trimmers in an appropriate size for your dog. They can last a lifetime.

Note: Planet Pets is not responsible for content or opinions of contributing writers


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