December 8, 2020 By Taylor Froiland, PharmD 0

Clipping Dog Nails: How to Do It Right

Just as it is for us humans, nail trimming is an important and essential part of dog grooming. It helps them maintain hygiene, good health, and keeps them from sliding all around your hardwood floors. Professional groomers are an option for people who would rather not clip their own dog’s nails, but, if you’d like to do it yourself, clipping dog nails is not so scary once you get the hang of it.

For many owners, dog nail trimming is just that: a scary experience. And it doesn’t just cause anxiety for the people doing the clipping, it is typically a scary and anxiety-filled experience for your furry friend too. Plus, as all dog owners know, if you act nervous and anxious, it is going to make them act even more nervous and anxious. So that both of you can get used to it, it’s best to start clipping your dog’s nails when they are puppies. That way, you guys can both become accustomed to the process.

Why Is It Important to Clip Dog Nails

Dogs that are less active or who spend more time on soft rather than hard ground will have a more difficult time keeping their nails short. The problem is that long nails can lead to issues for our four legged friends. These can include:

·       Painful Feet – When your dog’s nail makes contact with the ground, especially hard surfaces like concrete, it pushes the nail back up into their nailbed. This will either put pressure on their toe joints or force them to twist their toe to the side. After a while, this behavior will cause persistent soreness and even arthritis.

·       Bad Posture – For nearly all of their evolutionary history, dogs and wolves have almost continuously run long distances, keeping their nails worn down. The only time their nails ever touched the ground was when they were running or climbing up hill. Fast forward thousands and thousands of years and now whenever your dog’s nails touch the ground their brain thinks they are on a hill and shifts their posture accordingly. This causes what’s called a “goat-on-a-rock” posture that can lead to over-used muscles and eventually over-used joints, especially in their hind limbs. This can make it difficult to jump in cars, climb stairs, and even hard to get up from lying down.

Basically, if you hear their nails clicking against the floor or if their nails turn sideways, then it is time to cut them. By doing so you aren’t just helping them look nice and preventing them from scratching your floors, you’re helping them feel better and live a healthier life.

How to Cut Dog Nails

First off, to cut your pup’s nails, you need the proper tools. We recommend using scissor or grinder style clippers that are sharp and small enough for you to easily control. It is also a good idea to have some treats on standby to help calm them and reward them if they are being brave and cooperating with you throughout the process. You may also want a towel in case there is any blood.

Once you have your materials, you have to determine how much of the nail you are going to cut off. If you haven’t trimmed their nails in a long time and they are pretty long, then don’t expect to get the nails to the desired length in one sitting or one day. Unlike our nails, dog nails are supplied with blood and the lower part of their nail surrounds what’s called the quick. The quick contains a nerve and causes dogs extreme pain if cut. This is why it’s important to never cut too much off at once.

You may have to restrain the animal if they are very nervous or not cooperating with you. If you have to do that, just remember that they are not deliberately being difficult for you. They are scared and unsure of what is going on. In these cases, it may be necessary to have a partner to help restrain your pet while you cut. If you can, it is best to coax them into sitting still with treats and praise so as to not make the experience and fear worse for them.

Steps for Trimming Dog Nails

Once you have your tools, determine how much nail you are going to trim, and have either restrained or gotten your dog to work with you, follow these steps to actually cut their nails.

1.       Pick up a paw firmly but gently and make sure none of their fur is in the way

2.       Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad of the toe in order to extend the nail

3.       Clip the nail straight across and be sure to only trim the very tip

4.       Avoid clipping near or past the curve of their nail to reduce the risk of accidentally hitting the quick

5.       Repeat for all of your dog’s nails

6.       Reward your pup for doing so well!

How to Stop Dog Nails from Bleeding

Even if you are being extra careful and only cutting a little bit of the nail at a time, it is possible that you cut a bit too far and get some blood. If you see blood when cutting your dog’s nails, don’t panic. Panicking will only cause your dog to panic and make the situation much worse. Use a towel to try and stop the blood flow and to prevent dirt or germs from entering to wound and possibly causing an infection. If your dog’s nail bleeds for more than 30 minutes, then contact your vet right away.

Clipping Dog Nails: Conclusion

Your dog depends on you to keep them healthy, clean, and ready to meet the day. Trimming their nails is an important aspect of that. Cut their nails regularly to both get them used to it and to reduce the chances that you will clip the quick and draw blood. If you are unsure about cutting your furry friend’s nails then consult your vet for some assistance and direction.