Dog Nail Clipping 101


Discussing The Basics Of Dog Nail Clipping Including What You Need, How To Do It, Things to Avoid, And Why Routine Nail Clipping Is Important

Many dog owners struggle with clipping their dog’s nails. This is mostly due to nervousness and fear of hurting the dog in the process. While you can pay a groomer or veterinarian to clip your dog’s nails, that can get expensive over time. 

The purpose of this article is to offer some insight on how to trim dog nails. Additionally, this article will include what tools you will need, how to properly use them, how to avoid hurting your dog in the process, how often to clip them, how to stop accidental bleeding, and why nail clipping is so important. 

A puppy getting their nails trimmed

A puppy getting their nails trimmed

Start Trimming When They’re Young

The best way to trim dog nails is to start trimming when the dog is young. Trimming their nails at a young age will help condition them to be more accustomed to nail clipping. By desensitizing them to nail clipping, they will be easier to handle when nail trimming. 

Also, a dog that is not accustomed to nail trimming is likely to not enjoy it. They will flail, squirm, roll, whine, and bark the whole time. To avoid this, start trimming their nails while they are still young. Eventually, nail trimming will become normal to them and they won’t put up a fight while you’re trimming their nails.  

Tools You Will Need

To trim dog nails, you will need nail trimmers. There are two types of dog nail trimmers. The scissors type and the guillotine type. Both of which are effective, so use whichever you feel more comfortable with. 

Besides clippers, you should also have something to distract your dog while clipping. A lick mat with peanut butter, a favorite toy, or even another person to pet them. Any positive distraction can help keep them relaxed and still while you are clipping their nails.

Stopping Accidental Bleeding

Additionally, you should have some styptic powder or cornstarch on hand. Both of these products can be used to stop bleeding should you accidentally clip the quick. The quick of the nail is the soft center that contains the nerves and blood supplies. Clipping the quick can be very painful for dogs and result in bleeding. 

If you accidentally clip the quick, immediately apply styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. This can happen quite often when clipping dark colored nails as you can’t see the quick. Always be mindful of a nail’s quick and don’t clip off more than you need to. 

A happy dog getting their nails trimmed

A happy dog getting their nails trimmed

The Procedure

Assuming you’re using a guillotine trimmer, place the tip of the nail in the stationary ring of the trimmer. The clipper should be perpendicular to the nail. Next, squeeze the handle to move the cutting blade. Keep in mind, the cutting blade should be closest to you, not the dog. Remember, you’re only clipping the tip of the nail, similar to clipping your own fingernails. 

Additionally, the nails should be cut from underneath at a 45-degree angle. As previously mentioned, don’t cut the nails too short or you might cut the quick and it will start bleeding. With clear nails, you can usually see the quick. With dark nails, you usually can’t see the quick. So, only cut what you need to cut to prevent hurting your dog. 

How Often Should You Trim 

How often you should trim your dog’s nails will vary depending on the dog. Some dog nails grow quicker than others. Additionally, more active dogs may not need their nails trimmed at all. Active dogs tend to naturally wear down their nails from running and walking. 

However, most dogs need to have their nails trimmed every 2 to 3 weeks. If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, then they need to be trimmed. Pay attention to your dog’s nails and check them at least once a week. 

Why It’s So Important

Dogs need their nails trimmed regularly. If a dog’s nails are too long, they can become very painful. When a dog’s long nails hit the ground, they are pushed into the nail bed which puts excess pressure on the joints in the toes. Then, this causes the toes to twist and bend uncomfortably to the sides. Routine nail trimming will help keep your dog more comfortable and avoid unnecessary toe & joint pain. 

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