Trim a dogs nails is one job that is a most important maintenance duties you can do for your dog. The nails grow constantly and will cause problems for them if not kept trimmed properly. If you are in a metropolitan area and walk your dog on hard pavement constantly you will have less to do because of the friction between the nail and the pavement will trim them up naturally. However if you are the rest of us you will need to learn how to trim your dogs nails or you will be going to the groomer every few weeks to have this done.
Dogs do not, in general, like to have their nails trimmed. Especially if they have had one clipped to the point where they bled. This can be painful and quite traumatic. If you are raising a puppy you have a great opportunity to work with your puppy. Handling the paws and rubbing them every day will get your pup used to someone handling them making it easier to trim the nails when the time comes and will make it easier when you have to go to the veterinarian for an exam. Reward them as you handle their paws making the experience positive instead of negative.
You can start with simply trimming off the tips of the nails just to get them used to the process. Only do one or two at a time and reward them with praise and treats after.
There are many different types of dog nail clippers in the marketplace. What type you choose will depend on your breed of dog in relation to the size of the claws. A toy breed can be groomed with a small pair of scissor type trimmers while a large breed will need a stronger pair of scissors or the guillotine type. The guillotine type has a hole you slide the nail into and a blade cuts the nail as you squeeze the handle. You will get better torque out of the guillotine type but they must be shape to cut or they can crush the nail instead.
A dog’s toenails have a hard outer shell with a soft inner core where blood vessels and nerves are. The core is called the quick and cutting into the quick is extremely painful for your pup. They will bleed a lot from a quick cut so keeping a styptic stick or powder around is a good idea. You can find this in your drugstore where the men’s shaving products are.
A light colored nail will show the quick through the translucent or white toenail while a dark nail will hide the quick. Clip small bits of the nail looking at the clipped part for the quick which will show as a dark spot in the underside area. If you see the quick stop. You can use a file or a rotary tool like a Dremel tool to finish off the nail, filing the rough parts down. If your dog still has dew claws, which are up the leg from the paw on a small pad by themselves you need to trim these as well. Most purebred dogs these days are having the dew claws removed at a very early age while still with the breeders.
When cutting the nail have someone firmly hold the dog if they will not just let you cut their nails. You want to trim the nail so it does not extend past the foot pad while the dog is standing. Read the directions of the type of trimmer that you bought carefully. Each different design will require a slightly different technique while cutting. Trimming off small portions of the nail more often will be less stressful for your dog. The more often the nail is trimmed the faster the quick recedes. If it has been a long time since the last trimming you should cut just a little then wait a couple of days and trim a little more. If you are in doubt about how to do the trim then have your veterinarian show your or pay a groomer to do the same.
It is very likely you will at some time cut the quick. The quick is full of blood vessels and will bleed a lot and for quite some time if allowed to coagulate on its own. This is where the styptic pencil will come in handy. Better yet there is a powdered form of the same compound that you can simply dip the nail in and stop the bleeding. Try to keep your dog from licking the nail as this will make the bleeding continue. If the nail is still bleeding after 7 or so minutes you must take your dog to see a veterinarian.
Learning how to cut a dog’s toenails may be about the hardest grooming task you have to perform but it is essential to the well being of your dog. Nails that are too long can break and even get infected. Properly trimmed nails will allow your dog to run and play as much as they want.