How To Trim Your Dog’s Nails – Part Two

In Part One of this article on how to trim your dog’s nails we looked at how to get your dog used to having her paws touched and to the appearance and sound of the clippers. 

Next we’ll look at how to actually clip your dog’s nails. 

The first thing to do is to determine your choice of nail trimmer. Some people prefer to use scissors, or a guillotine type clipper or even a grinder tool that is specifically designed for dogs. Just in case you mistakenly cut one of  your dog’s nails too short and cause bleeding, you’ll want to have some styptic powder on hand to place on the wound to stop further bleeding.

When you have your equipment ready, pick up your dog’s paw and place your thumb on one toe pad and your finger on top of his toe. Making sure no fur is in the way, push your thumb up and backward on the toe pad to extend the nail. This is a gentle movement and you should not use force.

Be sure to only clip the tip of the nail and cut straight across. Don’t forget to trim your dog’s dew claws as well.

Don’t clip past the nail’s curve or you run into the real risk of cutting the quick. This is the pinkish section of the nail that contains blood vessels. If you do clip the quick, it’s very painful for your dog and it will bleed. Clipping your dog’s nails regularly a bit at a time will cause the quick to recede toward the back of the nail, which is what you want. 

If your dog has dark nails and you can’t see the pink quick, look for a chalky white ring and don’t go beyond it.

If you are using a grinder, use a safe tool manufactured specifically for that purpose. Support your dog’s toe gently but firmly and only grind a little off at a time. For long haired dogs, it’s important to keep the fur from getting tangled in the grinder. 

Regular nail care helps to keep your dog’s paws healthy, as long nails can contribute to deformed feet and can injure tendons over time.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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