Many people get anxious when cutting their dogs nails, mainly because they’re not confident they know how to cut dog nails. Unless your dog is has a very active outdoor lifestyle, his nails will need to be cut regularly – anywhere from a week to a month. Cutting a dog’s nails is very important because if not done on a regular basis it can be uncomfortable for your dog and harmful at worst. It can lead to permanent issues in your dogs foot and make everyday walking and running difficult. Often when dogs walk frequently on harder grounds such as concrete or sidewalks, they need their nails trimmed less regularly. If you can hear your dog’s nails clipping when walking on the wood or tiled floor, that means it is time for a trim! Nails of any length, size, shape or color can be gotten back into shape! All that is required is some good dog nail clippers and a bit of patience.
Types of nail trimmers
There are many different types of nail trimmers but they fall into two basic categories: guillotine type and scissor-type. Many people prefer scissor-type over guillotine especially for larger breeds as you have more control and can choose the angle and make a quick cut without having to have your dog’s whole nail caught in if he decides to make a quick runaway. Make sure to buy good quality trimmers that are sharp and designed for the right size dog. Blunt or poor quality trimmers will split the nail. However, if the nails aren’t that long but are sharp you can always file them which can be more gradual and safer than clipping.
Keeping your dog calm.
The best way to have a calm dog when it comes to clipping nails is by introducing this at a young age so they become comfortable. However, don’t panic if you haven’t taught your dog this from a young age – you can always get him more comfortable by getting him used to you handling his feet and getting the clippers out and going through the motions without actually trimming. Make sure you have lots of treats and give lots of praise so that nail clipping associates as a fun time! Many dogs have very sensitive feet and toes so try to hold his paw up and hold gently but firmly.
Keeping you calm!
Dogs can sense when we are stressed or nervous so by being completely calm (even if you’re not inside!) with lots of praise should keep your dog from trying to evade. The best way to address your fears of trimming nails is by watching either your vet or groomer to do it a few times with you so that you can see the technique needed to have a stress-free nail clipping session! However, if you decide you still aren’t 100% comfortable with this, your vet or groomer will be happy to do this regularly. You need to be confident in knowing how to cut dog nails so that they feel confident also!
What if your dog doesn’t like it?
Despite your best effort, some dogs just dislike getting their nails trimmed. The best thing to do in this scenario is only trim as many nails as your dog will patiently allow. Start with one, reward and later if your pet gets nervous, restless or distracted its time to end todays session and pick it back up in the next few hours or the next few days. Try out different areas and positions when cutting your dogs nails, maybe he prefers to stand or lay down. Sometimes it’s best if you have a helper to focus on the dog and keep him calm whilst you focus on the trimming. Whichever way you decide, keep the environment as relaxed as possible, not twisting your dogs legs into awkward angles making them want to avoid this process forevermore! Some dogs, however, are full blown drama queens and run away when you even touch the nail clippers! When this happens just try and make it a part of your daily routine to get your dog used to them and not thinking whenever they come out they have to have their nails trimmed!
How to Cut Dog Nails
First step – grab lots of treats to make the whole experience a positive one. A technique that works for me is the 3-section rule. You cut a small bit from the left, then the right and finally the underneath and repeat until the skin stops being flaky and looks moister. Another technique that makes it extremely unlikely you will cut to short is by holding the handle of the nail trimmers flat against the toe pad and cutting straight across the nail so that they’ll sit just above the ground. Remember, the longer the nail the longer the quick! This can take a few trims to get it back down to the preferred length.
Also, don’t ignore the dew claws! Many dogs get these removed when they are a puppy but some don’t and they need to be clipped just the same! Most dogs have two on the front but some have two on the back as well!
How to Cut Dog Nails That Are Black
In dogs with white nails, you can normally see the quick. The quick is the pink area within the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are – similar to the area underneath our nails. However, you can’t see the quick in black nails. When working with black nails, look at the underneath of the nail and you will notice that near the tip the nail separates into a triangular shape with two outer “walls” At this point there is no quick and it’s safe to cut the tip off.
Another trick is to apply gentle pressure with the nail trimmer where you want to cut, if your dog reacts to this pressure it’s more than likely you are too close to the quick and will need to move the clippers further down and try again. Take a look at our video below.
What happens if I get the quick?
If you do happen to clip the “quick” – don’t panic! No dog has ever died from this so stay calm and grab the styptic powder (a must-have for any dog owner!) or regular baking flour and give your pup a treat and lots of attention so that he’s not put off for next time. Remember staying calm throughout it all will help your dog to stay calm, if your too nervous doing it then he will pick up on that.
It should only bleed after for around 5-7 minutes, if it continues to bleed with no signs of stopping, give your vet a call. It’s best to keep a small container packed with the powder or flour on hand when cutting your dogs nails so that if you do “nick the quick” then you can just dip your dog’s paw into it. This can help if you need to stop bleeding in a hurry if not try and apply the correct amount to the wound.
Senior Dogs/ Deformed Nails.
Senior dogs tend to end up with long quicks and long, hard nails which makes trimming a bit trickier but not impossible. Normally in older dogs the nails are harder to trim because throughout their adult life their nails have been left to grow long therefore meaning the nail beds are sore and worn. At any age, nails can sometimes grow back deformed when there has been a trauma to the nail bed, for example when the dew claw has been caught in something and torn. To help this, try and trim them after a bath when their nails will be softer. Make sure you only take the tips off the nail or cut them so they sit just above the floor when your dog is standing so that they aren’t too short.
Take a look here at our top pick of Scissor-style nail clippers, proffesional design with a non-slip handle to make sure clipping nails is stress-free! However if you would prefer the Guillotine style – these high quality clippers come with a lifetime warrenty!
This video shows both how to clip dark and clear nails. It shows the techniques used to make clipping your dogs nails a calm and quick experience!
So it’s all up to you now – Don’t forget, lots of treats, praise and belly rubs! Hope you now know how to cut dog nails with ease!