Dog Grooming Tips: Cutting Your Dog’s Nails
Guest Post By: Sandra Gabriel, Vet Assistant and Owner of Pet Pawdicures Mobile Nail Trimming Service
Is cutting your dog’s nails worse than bath time for you? Well, you’re not alone. I am right there with you. Kilo the Pug hates anyone touching his paws and I am really nervous about hurting him and making things worse. Many pet parents would agree nail trimming is a difficult part of their pet’s grooming routine. We invited Sandra Gabriel, Vet Assistant and Owner of Pet Pawdicures Mobile Nail Trimming Service to share some tips for making it a pleasant and positive experience for both you and your dog.
Pet Pawdicures from the Comfort of Home
Sandra started Pet Pawdicures to offer a convenient way for pet owners to have their pet’s nail care needs taken care of from the comfort of their own home, significantly reducing the stress on their beloved pets. This service is perfect for those who are unable to easily take their pet to the groomer or vet’s office on a regular basis, and for those who have pets with mobility issues or are more comfortable in a familiar setting (like Kilo).
In addition to being a Vet Assistant, Sandra is also a Certified Dog Trainer who works with dogs that have various behavioural concerns. She explains that while providing any nail care services, it’s important to take the time to form a bond with each pet, to make them as calm and comfortable as possible. This helps the experience become easier and more pleasant over time for your dog.
Do I Really Need To Trim My Dog’s Nails?
Sandra says, “Yes! You do need to trim your dog’s nails.”
But let’s be honest – your dog’s nail trim probably isn’t on the top of your to-do list. However, regular nail care is essential to your dog’s health and should be part of regular grooming. In fact, Sandra suggests a nail trimming between your dog’s full grooming appointments.
The Risks of Overgrown Nails
- They force your dog to change their stride, putting pressure on the joints causing discomfort or pain, and makes it more difficult for them to walk or run on slippery surfaces.
- They are more likely to get caught on things causing them to break, bleed, and possibly become infected; sometimes loss of the nail occurs.
- They could become embedded in the pad, which almost certainly causes a painful wound, and can lead to an infection deep inside the pad.
If you hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor or pavement, it’s probably time. To avoid these and other issues, Sandra recommends nails should be trimmed every 4 weeks.
The task seems simple enough, particularly with the wide array of nail clippers now available, but the procedure can go terribly wrong with one bad clip, leaving a dog reluctant to ever allow you near his feet again.
The 3 most common reasons owners put off regular nail care are:
1. Their dog is very difficult to take to the vet/groomer because of travel or other anxiety issues, mobility issues, reactivity or other problems. Plus there is a cost.
2. Their dog hates getting his/her nails done so much that they feel horrible putting them through the process. Some dogs may get anxious or aggressive.
3. They want to clip the nails themselves, but are afraid they will cut the quick. Accidents happen. This is definitely a risk. If you do cut into the quick – or vein and nerve that runs into every nail – it can bleed and be painful. Try to clip after where the nail makes a defined curve down towards the floor and below any circle in the middle of the nail (it can be hard to see exactly on dark nails like Kilo’s).
Knowing where to trim a nail takes some skill….If you do trim your dog’s nail too short and cut the quick, which contains live blood vessels, the nail will bleed and your dog will likely yelp and pull away. The bleeding can be profuse and long-lasting. Stay calm, talk in a soothing voice and immediately feed your dog a bunch of tasty treats. – ASPCA
What do you do you do if you cut too far? You should quickly stop the bleeding, relieve the pain and lessen the chance of infection.The best thing is to be prepared and have emergency supplies handy like something absorbent and Styptic powders or styptic pencils (antihemorrhagic agents that work by contracting the blood vessels). If you don’t have any styptic powder you can make your own paste from cornstarch, baking soda, or a bar of soap. Apply pressure as you would on a human cut after applying powder or paste. Always consult an expert or your veterinarian if your are concerned.
Our friends at Puppy Leaks gave some excellent tips to avoid cutting and to treat if you do have an accident.
Sandra started Pet Pawdicures to help owners ensure pets receive essential nail care, in the comfort of their home, and reduce the added stress of travel or the risk of injury.
“My goal is to make it a much better experience for the pet and the owner.” – Sandra Gabriel
How To Properly Trim Your Dog’s Nails
Want to trim your dog’s nails but he/she HATES having it done? To make the process easier over time, Sandra suggests: “Start by gently touching your dog’s paws regularly, especially around the toes, and introduce some positive reinforcement during the process (like a treat, a toy or some extra cuddles).”
When you are ready to trim the nails, there are two main kinds of nail clippers: a guillotine type where the nail goes in and you chop down and a scissors type.
Consider using a Dremel if your dog hates the clippers, which will allow you to file the nails down to the appropriate length. This tool is available at most pet stores.
Get your dog accustomed to whichever tool you decide gradually using positive rewards before you even cut. Have your dog associate the tool and process with good things.
Start in a quiet area one nail at a time when your dog is tired and calm. If your dog has dark nails and you can not see the quick, just clip a little sliver at a time. Reward after each clip.
I found this video very informative.
For more tips check out the ASPCA https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/trimming-your-dogs-nails
I confess, I have not trimmed Kilo’s nails in the 12 months he has been with me. He has made such progress but he still hates strangers and hates anyone touching his nails or paws, so I just could not add that stress. He walks on pavement every day and that seems to have filed them down a bit. The vet felt they were OK last visit and we already had enough trouble getting blood and examining him. However, I intend to get a Dremel and slowly try to file them down a little more this week using tons of treats. Since I met Sandra, I have been playing with Kilo’s paws and squeezing his nails several times a day in between cuddles and rewards to prepare him. I would love to have her do the trim but am worried how Kilo would react.
If you are struggling, consider hiring a professional to help. Have that person establish a routine with your dog so that the process becomes easier over time.