Dog grooming: How to trim dog nails

Can you hear your dog’s nails clicking along the lino in the kitchen? That’s a sign that they are getting too long.  Long nails can cause discomfort to your dog, even affecting their ability to walk normally.

Many dogs hate having their feet messed with; sharp nail clippers combined with a wriggly, nervous dog can be a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, unless your dog walks several hours a day over rough terrain it’s unlikely his nails will wear down naturally. Small dogs and less active elderly dogs will also require more regular attention.  Read on for advice on how to make the process simple and stress free for your dog.

Where to make the cut

Before you start clipping your dog’s nails take a moment to locate the ‘quick’, this is the inner section of the nail which is pink coloured and contains blood and nerve endings. If you cut into the quick you will draw blood and cause a lot of pain.

It’s very hard to gauge the end of the quick with dark coloured nails so it’s best to take your dog to a vet or groomer, at least the first time.

How to cut your dog’s nails

Ask your dog to sit quietly and offer his paw before you start.  If he is not trained to do this your job will be almost impossible! Use a good quality pair of nail clippers with sharp blades so the cut can be done in one quick movement and aim to take off the very tip of the nail. Don’t forget to also clip the dew claws which are found higher up on the inside of the front legs.  If left these claws can eventually grow back into the skin and cause a lot of discomfort.

Positive attitude

If your dog is fearful of the nail clippers your attitude is the one thing that can convince him otherwise. Be over the top with your praise, encouraging him in a cheery voice when he sits still and relaxes.  Never comfort your dog; saying ‘there, there’ in a quiet voice will just convince your dog that you are nervous about the situation. Once you have successfully cut one nail, don’t push your luck.  Give him lots of rewards and praise and wait till the next day to do a second nail and so on.

Alternatives to nail clippers

If your dog continues to be fidgety and nervous having his nails trimmed and you are worried about causing injury with a pair of nail clippers, a dog nail grinder such as our Pet Nail File CP-206 may be a more suitable tool to get the job done.  A dog nail grinder will gently file down the nail and takes a little longer than nail clippers but it is a good choice for young, wriggly dogs.

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