How to Trim a Dog’s Nails
May 27, 2012 in Dog Grooming
Unless your lucky enough to own a dog who wears his nails down naturally, your dog will need regular nail trimming throughout his life to stay healthy. Long nails can cause deformities of the foot, arthritis, unnatural gait, and that’s assuming they don’t curl and pierce the paw pad or break off and bleed excessively.
If you’re reading this though, you’re probably already aware of the many problems associated with long nails, and hope to find out how to address the issue. As intimidating as it may seem, trimming your dog’s nails can be very easy, as long as you know where to start.
Test the Waters
Does your dog mind having his feet touched? Many dogs will pull away or nip when humans attempt to handle their feet. Before you buy clippers, quick stop, or a dremmel to file your dog’s nails with, check to see if trimming the nails will even be possible by yourself. If your dog instantly yanks his paw back, you will have to do some training with paw handling before you can trim his nails.
Don’t get bit testing your dog’s foot handling skills. If you think or know your dog will bite, take him to a professional trainer, or to a vet or groomer for nails. For the sake of those who will be handling your dog, warn them he may bite.
If your dog is fine with having his feet picked up, lift the foot and look at the nails from underneath. This gives you the best view of the quick if you know what to look for, and is less intimidating for the dog. (Most dogs don’t want to watch you trim their nails.) If your dog’s nails are clear, cut a healthy distance away from the pink (which is the blood vessel you’re trying to avoid while clipping) no less than 2 millimeters to avoid accidentally hurting the dog. If your dogs nails are black, you’ll do things a little differently.
Trim just a sliver of nail off the tip (and I do mean the smallest amount you can cut) and take a look at what the cut area looks like. Is it all one solid color? Keep cutting. Keep cutting one sliver at a time. Eventually the center of the cut area will turn chalky white, and after that a black dot will appear in the center of the white. Stop at the black dot. That’s the quick!
If He Bleeds
Accidents do happen. If you accidentally cut the nail too short, you can either use a styptic powder purchased at a pet store, or either flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. If this happens, be sure to go a little longer on the next toe. (A lot longer if there’s a lot of blood!) If you continue to quick every nail afterwords, trimming nails, take the dog to a groomer. It’s not always the length of the nail that decides where it needs to be cut. Some dogs (Greyhounds are especially guilty of this) have very long quicks and though the nail may appear long, the nails are cut as short as they can go.