Caring dog owners would never willingly inflict pain on their animal or animals. In fact the opposite is the case and feeding, exercising and grooming are usually done with loving care. You may decide to trim your dog's nails as you think that their length is causing your dog pain.
However, if you trim a dog's nails too short you will inflict some pain and distress to the dog. The pain caused could be worse than the animal would suffer with a slightly overgrown nail. Before you trim your dog's nails make sure that you have all the information necessary.
Assess the dog’s nails
Examine your dog's nails in order to assess what needs to be done. It may be that only one or two nails need trimming or perhaps all of the dog's nails will need some attention.
The nail’s blood supply
If your dog has pale coloured nails you may be able to see the blood supply, and where it ends, through the nails.
Where to make the cut
Your cut must stop short of the end of this blood supply. If it does not the nail will bleed and your dog will feel some pain. In turn this will make the animal nervous about such grooming in the future.
General advice for cutting a dog’s nails
Hold your dog gently but firmly.
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Tips & Warnings
Why your dog’s nails may need to be trimmed
In an ideal world your dog's nails would never need to be trimmed or clipped. Sufficient time spent exercising on hard surfaces such as concrete would ensure that a dog's nails were kept short and smooth. These days though the reality for most of our pet dogs is a comfortable warm existence as a fully domesticated house dog. This inevitably means that sooner or later your dogs nails will need to be trimmed.
If you allow a dog's nails to become overgrown the animal will be in pain, have difficulty walking and may pull threads of material, such as carpets. You can take your dog to the groomers but why waste time and money having the hassle travelling across town with your dog? The tools needed for clipping a dog's nails do not have to be expensive. With a little time and effort your dog's nails will soon be in great condition, but it will not have cost you a fortune. Please note that the breed and size of your dog will have a bearing on the equipment that you need to buy.
The right tools for the job
It is no good attempting to trim a dog's nails with human nail clippers or scissors. A dog's nails are just too tough. Shop around for suitable dog nail clippers.
There are many types of dog nail clipping devices but a cheap, strong basic dog nail clipper will usually suffice and have longevity.
A guillotine dog nail clipper will give a clean, painless cut, is cheap to buy and very easy to use.
[Remember though if unsure have your dog's nails trimmed by the vet or at a local dog groomers]
Assemble what is needed
Gather together the dog nail clippers, scissors for trimming long paw fur, perhaps a soft towel to help hold your dog still and anything else that you may need
Assess the dog’s nails
Gently groom your dog so that it is relaxed. As you do so check out the condition of the dog's nails. If necessary trim any excess paw fur and soak very long, hard nails, in order to soften them. This will make the trimming easier.
Take your time and ensure that any other pet's, especially other dogs, are not in the same room.
If your dog has very long fur, like my dog Leo at the left, it may not be easy to see its nails.
However, you must ensure that you do not cut into the nail's quick.
For very long nails the best advice is to trim a little nail and then leave it for a week, so that the quick can recede.
You should then be able to trim a little more, and so forth, until the dog's nail is the desired length.
How to hold your dog
If you are a responsible dog owner you should know your dog well. Is it a nervous dog? Does it get frightened easily? All of this will dictate how you need to hold your dog.
If you are lucky your dog, with a little encouragement, may sit well for you and even hold up each paw. However for some this will only happen with time and for others it may never happen. If you need to hold your dog gently but firmly.
If you are not alone one of you can hold the dog, whilst the other person trims your pets nails. If you have to trim the nails on your own hold your dog in something such as a fleece throw or a large bath towel. Leave just the paw that you are working on exposed.
Trimming your dog’s nails
Now that the preparations have been made it is time to trim your dog's nails. Remember to make a safe cut and avoid cutting into the quick or kwik. The quick grows with a dog's nail and if you cut into it the vein will bleed.
As already said remember to remove and safely store any equipment when you have finished.
Give your dog a huge amount of praise, especially if it was still and quiet whilst you trimmed its nails. Even if your dog wriggled rather a lot, a good cuddle and plenty of praise may make the task easier next time.
Of course a welcome dog treat, or two, will be the order of the day. If you trim your dog's regularly the quick should recede right back.
Read How to avoid cutting a dog's nails too short in conjunction with this guide.
As with so many tasks. maintenance is always much easier than playing catch up.
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Tips & Warnings
You can hurt your dog trimming its nails. If you feel unsure let your groomer and our veterinarian take care of it instead.