The dog manicure is probably one of the most disliked procedures that a dog has to encounter at a vet. It takes some time to clip 18-20 nails (depending on the dog). However, we can condition our dogs to be less scared of it. After reading this blog post, you will learn how to clip dog’s nails and hopefully, you will get the courage to do it at home and spare your dog the stress to go to a vet.
Excessively long nails make it difficult for a dog to walk properly and stand up correctly. The nails left unattended will quickly lead to joint and back problems. How often to trim the nails depends on your dog’s lifestyle and health. Active dogs who run a lot on hard surfaces don’t need the pedicure, only for the dewclaw ( the nail that is not touching the ground).
The nails should be just touching the ground or not touching it. The soft part of the paw should not be lifted upward. A correct stance should look like this:
A dog’s toenail is made up of the nail and the quick. The quick is the pink part that provides the blood supply and innervation to the nail. When trimming your dog’s nails, you must avoid cutting into it as it is painful and will cause quite a bit of bleed.
The hollow part of the nail is the one that you want to cut. In puppies, it is sharp, spiky, and narrow. In dogs when looking from the bottom of the paw it is hollow. For white nails, the tip can be identified by holding the nail up to the light, you should cut only the white part and leave some margin to the pink part. However, many dogs have dark-colored nails. You have to snip carefully and look at the nail from the bottom. Better clip less but more frequently to avoid cutting in and scaring your dog with the clippers.
To make the job less stressful and more successful experience for you and your dog, first, get your dog used to giving paws and being touched. You can refer to Left/ Right paw/ Relax and Handling exercises in the Dogo app, that will help your dog get used to and enjoy being groomed. Remember to practice these exercises not only when you clip the nails but also for fun, so there is no bad association.
Hold the paw firmly but in a comfortable position so you don’t have to twist it or bend yourself. While holding the paw firmly, make sure not to apply too much pressure or hold it for too long, as this can be uncomfortable for your dog. Talk to your dog in an upbeat voice. Buy special equipment for dog nails. The clippers have to be sharp and fit your dog’s size. Using special equipment designed specifically for dog nails is crucial, as using inappropriate clippers can cause discomfort or even injury to your dog. Make sure to choose clippers that are sharp and fit your dog’s size to avoid any accidents. Investing in a good quality pair of clippers can also save you money in the long run, as you will not have to visit the groomer as often.
If your dog is stressed, do one nail and let your dog go. Don’t forget the dewclaws, if left long they tend to grow in.
If your dog is very enthusiastic about food, smear some food on the ground or table, so your dog can be preoccupied with eating while you trim the nails. Otherwise, offer a treat, big hugs. You can offer a treat after each nail, so your dog knows they don’t have to wait long until good things happen.
If you are unsure about where to cut your dog’s nails, it is always better to err on the side of caution and cut less. You can always clip more if needed, but if you accidentally cut the quick, it can be painful for your dog and may cause bleeding. Additionally, if your dog has dark-colored nails, it can be challenging to see where the quick ends. In such cases, it is advisable to clip a small amount of the nail at a time, inspect it, and repeat the process until you get close to the quick. If you are still unsure, you can always seek the help of a professional groomer or a veterinarian.
Some dogs who can’t tolerate nail clippers sometimes can deal well with a nail file. You can use a human nail file but it will take a long time or buy a rotating nail grinder. There are some silent ones, that will make a silent buzz.
Bonus: Any excess hair should be cut short between the pads and nails to pre-vent mats and grass seed barbs causing infection.
A cut happens
If you clip the nails at home it would be great to have styptic powder prepared. A cut in quick can happen to anyone, even to a vet. If it starts bleeding, pinch some styptic powder between the fingers, and apply and hold the powder with gentle pressure until it stops bleeding. If you don’t have the powder, put some cotton pads, and leave a bandage for a few hours. If the bandage is soaking through and the bleeding is strong, go to a vet. Your dog will not lose a significant amount of blood but having it checked by a professional is always good.
Remember to play with your dog and practice various exercises like a paw shake without actually cutting the nails. This way your dog that it is fun when you touch their paws and the clipping will become less stressful for everyone.