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How to Clip Your Dog’s Nails Safely

Nail clipping is an essential part of every dog’s grooming routine, not only for cosmetic reasons but for safety reasons as well. Without proper nail care, you risk your pets developing painful toe joints, arthritis, and even nerve damage.

Here we have compiled the basics for trimming your dog’s nails, as well as helpful tips to make the process as easy as possible.

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails: How to and How Often

There are two primary methods of trimming a dog’s nails: Clipping them and grinding them. Clipping uses scissors or guillotine-style trimmers to clip the tip of the nail while grinding uses a specially designed tool to file the nail down to a reasonable length.

Clipping Your Dog’s Nails

For this method, you will need a pair designated pet nail or clippers. Hold your dog’s paw securely in your hand and push gently on one of their toe pads until the nail extends.

Using the clippers, cut only the tip avoiding where the nail turns pink. This is referred to as the quick which contains blood vessels and cause pain if cut. If your dog has dark nails, you can tell where the quick is by locating the pulp. It is generally lighter than the nail and may appear as chalky ring around your dog’s nails.

Grinding Your Dog’s Nails

For this method, you will use a specially designed trimmer also known as a Dremel. These tools typically have safeties in place to prevent you from taking off too much of the dog’s nails.

Using the trimmer, grind a small part of your dog’s nail at a time, smoothening any rough edges. Holding the grinder towards the top will give you more control. Same rules apply for holding your pets’ paws and avoiding the quicks.

How Often Should You Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

The amount of time between nail trims will depend on your dog’s lifestyle and how quickly their nails grow. Daily walks, especially on pavement, can help file your dog’s nails down between trims as well.

On average, you should clip your dog’s nails every 3-4 weeks.

5 Tips to Make Trimming Your Dog’s Nails Easier

1.   Start Young

The younger you can start your dog, the better. As a puppy, dogs are more open to new experiences, and it is easier to build positive associations with potentially stressful experiences like nail clipping.

2.   Associate Touch with Positive Reinforcements

One of the scariest parts of nail clipping for a dog is having their paws handled. Touch your dog’s paws often, even when you’re not clipping them, and reward them each time to build up a positive association.

3.   Keep Styptic Powder on Hand

If you do cut your dog’s quick, do not panic. While your dog’s nail will start to bleed, you can stop this bleeding quickly by holding styptic powder on their nail for a few seconds.

4.   Make Nail Clipping Fun

Give your dog lots of treats while they get their nails clipped. The more fun you can make the experience, the easier it will be the next time you do it. You can also spread peanut butter on a lick mat in a nearby area as a fun treat and a way to keep your dog occupied.

5.   Be Consistent

Consistency is the key. The more you clip your dog’s nails, the more experience you will get and the easier it will be the next time. Try to keep a consistent schedule so they become accustomed to it.

Clipping Your Dog’s Nails Does Not Have to Be Stressful

Clipping your dog’s nails may seem scary, but it does not have to be.

With the right tools and lots of treats on hand, you can make it a positive experience for both you and your dog.