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How To Trim Your Dog's Nails

Why Trimming Your Dogs’ Nails is Important

When our dogs’ nails grow too long (even just a little) it changes our dog’s posture which has a ripple effect on their overall skeletal structure and health. Here are some reasons why your should give your best buddy a routine pawdicure.

Reasons to trim your dogs’ nails

  • Regular trimming can prevent snagging on carpets and other flooring, stop them from curling or growing inward, and prevents infection.
  • Long nails affect their ability to walk normally. When a dog’s nails get too long, it can make their toes turn to one side, causing joint discomfort and, in severe cases, joint abnormalities and arthritis.
  • Long nails can break or chip which causes pain and may require veterinary care and rest.
  • Routine trimming will prevent the quick (the blood vessel that runs through the nail) from growing out. When quicks grow out long it will be harder for you to cut your dog’s nails later on.

How can you tell when your dog’s nails need a trim?

Dogs’ nails grow at different rates, which depend on their activity level, lifestyle, breed, age, environment and overall health. Dog’s that spend a lot of time outdoors run around over a variety of surfaces that naturally wear their nails down, so they won’t need to be trimmed as often as indoor dogs, since carpet, tiles and hardwood flooring don’t provide enough friction to file down his nails.

As a general rule, if your dog’s nails are touching the floor when they’re standing normally, it’s time for a trim. If they’re curved or curling, they’re past-due.

Steps to trim your dog’s nails

  1. Teach your dog to trust you. If your dog is anxious about nail trims, you can try the following to get them used to it.
  • Massage your dog’s legs and paws routinely to get them used to being touched.
  • Bring the clippers or nail file out while you’re doing this, but don’t actually use them.
  • If you have another dog, trim their nails in front of your anxious dog. Reward both dogs after you’re finished.

If your dog really won’t tolerate you cutting his nails then you should never just leave them. Instead speak to a professional dog groomer or your veterinarian who may have more success.

  1. Spread each of your dog’s paws and inspect them, including the pads, for dirt, debris or ticks.
  2. Take a firm but gentle hold of his toe. You should hold your trimmer so that you are cutting the nail from the top to the bottom at a slight angle rather than side to side. Do not trim at a blunt angle, instead you should try and maintain the natural curve of the nail.
  3. Cut a little piece of nail at a time until you can see the beginning of a nail-colored circle appear on the cut surface. This circle indicates that you are nearing the vein that runs into the nail – known as the quick – and that you have cut down far enough. In dogs with black nails, the circle may be harder to identify.
  4. If you accidentally cut into the quick, it will probably bleed. Use some corn starch to help stem the bleeding.
  5. Once you have cut all the nails, use a file to smooth down any rough edges that are potential snagging risks.

What sort of clippers should I use?

There are two types of nail clippers for dogs – guillotine and scissor styles. Which you use will likely come down to your own personal preference in terms of handling them, but in terms of performance, both work equally well.

Some owners find that their dog is unable to tolerate either style of clipper and instead choose to use a nail grinder. This is a good alternative, but the process takes significantly longer and many dogs still dislike the noise and vibrations that come with filing down their claws instead.


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