Trimming Dog Nails: How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails at Home

Trimming Dog Nails: How to Trim Your Dog's Nails at Home

Hand hygiene and regular nail care are not only cosmetic concerns but can lead to several health problems, including arthritis. While most pet owners leave the task until their next routine checkup or grooming appointment, they can easily master it at home with the right tools, techniques, and treats! Regular nail trimming is an essential part of every pet’s health and wellness. Untrimmed nails can provide significant discomfort to your pet and be the reason behind severe health conditions. 

Here are some primary reasons why it’s essential to trim your dog’s nails: 

  1. Regular trimming ensures that nails don’t curl back into the footpad and turn into any infections.
  2. Neglected nails can split into two, cause muscle strain, and back pain to the dog while walking.
  3. If not trimmed regularly, the quick (pink flesh containing blood vessels) doesn’t recede far from the tip and leads to excessive bleeding.
  4. Untrimmed nails can cause injury to the spine, affect the dog’s posture, lead to difficulty in walking, and depreciate the quality of everyday life for the pet. 

Conditions such as hot spots during summers are triggered by excessive scratching and severe pet injuries. While there may be several reasons behind the disease, including flea infestation, having long nails can cause severe inflammation and increase the chances of bacterial infections. It’s why owners should be regular at clipping their dog’s nails at least once every two to three weeks. Not only this, but it’s also essential for pet owners to take an annual subscription of certified flea medicine for dogs to ensure optimum health and hygiene. 

Trimming nails can be a stressful experience for the dog, and some dogs may even be apprehensive about participating. Owners need to have their dog’s trust before holding their paws. Moreover, it’s also a good practice to implement the following steps in case a dog is nervous, anxious, or fearful of the nail trimming process:

  • Use a basket muzzle to cover the dog’s mouth in case they plan to attack or bite. It will keep the dog at ease and give it more room to move its jaw. 
  • A dog can ‘see’ the world with its nose. Allow the feline to smell the tools, your palms, etc., to feel calm and less anxious. 
  • Use treats or a tablespoon of peanut butter and spread it over a mat to engage the dog while trimming its nails. 
  • Use positive affirmations in-between steps to mark the dog’s good behavior and encourage it to get used to the process. 
  • If the pet is sensitive about being held, owners should take time to gently hold their dog’s paws till it gets accustomed to the touch.

Step 1 – Choose a Comfortable Spot

To make this process more bearable for the dogs, owners can pick a comfortable spot before beginning the nail trimming process. It’s ideal for trimming the nails in a room with the right temperature, without the presence of other pets or family members, and a soft bed to sit on. Additionally, owners can also set up their stations with essential pet supplies in one place for the nail trimming process. Most critical items include a pair of nail clippers, your dog’s favorite treats, styptic powder/baking powder, another individual to feed the goodies, and a couple of hand/paper towels.    

Step 2 – Use the Right Tools

Using the right set of nail clippers is an integral part of the trimming process. Amongst several types of clippers, the top three kinds include Guillotine, plier/scissor-style, and a Dremel. Owners can trim a puppy’s nails using regular nail clippers as well. While plier-style clippers are more appropriate for large dog breeds and allow you to cut a smaller section at a time, Guillotine makes less noise while clipping and can snipe off a small-sized nail easily. Dremel-style clippers are ideal for nails that need to get cut with precision. Although Dremels may not be the quickest clippers to work with, they help prevent owners from cutting their pet’s nails too far.  

Step 3 – Be Prepared for Accidents

Nail bleeding can occur if the quick is injured while trimming as it contains several nerves and blood vessels. Owners can start by clipping smaller sections to identify the quick placed at the center of the nail in pink color. If the dog has an overgrown nail, the quick will likely be closer to the tip and get injured while trimming. Specific measures such as using styptic powder and applying pressure on the wound can stop the bleeding quickly. It’s also essential for owners to be patient and calm around their dogs as they try to pull away or isolate their paws. Owners must hold the dog’s paw in a steady yet gentle grip till the bleeding stops. Apart from styptic, owners can also use homemade solutions such as baking powder, cornstarch, or mild soap. Owners need to maintain firm pressure on the wound till the blood is absorbed and forms into a clot.  

Step 4 – Practice How to Trim the Nails

Owners should practice trimming nails on a toothpick/straw to get used to handling the appliance. It’s also necessary to position yourself accurately while trimming the dog’s nails. Owners can sit alongside their pets and hold their paws with the left hand to cut from the right. Another way can be to sit behind the pet and trim the paws, facing the downside. It’s vital to maintain a natural angle so that the pet is seated comfortably. The next thing to remember is to push the fur and upper skin away from the nail before cutting, as it may injure the dog. Cutting the smallest part of the tip at a 45-degree angle will ensure maximum safety to prevent injuries. Finish off with grinding the nails with short, gentle strokes and stop once you spot the quick at the center. You may finally treat your dog for following through and completing the task successfully. 

While trimming a dog’s nails is a job left best to professionals, regular practice will enable owners to depend less on weekly trips to the vet and get the job done efficiently at home. If pet owners are still underconfident and worried that they might harm their dogs, we suggest going to a professional groomer to prevent any mishaps.