Many dog owners are really nervous at the idea of trimming their pets nails at home. A wriggly dog, and the possibility of cutting too far can be quite off putting. But, with patience, and some preparation, nail cutting can be done safely and easily in between grooms at home.
In the wild, dogs nails wear down naturally if they’re spending a lot of time walking or running on hard and rough surfaces. However, with many of today’s dog mostly living in doors and only walking for short distances, their nails may not be filing down naturally. So, a regular trim really is needed. Long nails are more prone to splitting, or being torn off if they catch on the carpet. Very long nails cause the toes to twist, making walking uncomfortable and traction poor. If nails grow further they can become ingrown which causes painful abscesses.
Keeping nails trimmed can be really daunting for both owners and dogs, so its important to get your dog used to having their paws touched. Work up to this gradually by placing your dog on your lap, or next to you on the couch, and holding their paw for a short time. Reward with a treat, praise and cuddle. Continue this daily, holding your dogs paw for a longer period each time.
Once your pet is calmly on your lap, you can start by trimming one nail very slightly, rewarding and letting your dog go. Slowly work your way up to doing more at once, or you can just trim a little off, one or two of the nails at a time, and then rotate them every couple of days to help keep it a positive experience.
Make sure you use a quality pair of dog nail clippers. They have to have a stainless steel blade and replace that as soon as it becomes worn down or blunt. Look for clippers with a safety guard to prevent putting the toe or nail too far into the clippers.
It’s important to identify where the sensitive quick is located in your dog’s nails. This is where the nerves and blood supply are located. If you cut it, it will cause pain and it will bleed. In white nails it will usually appear area inside the nails. You can see it more easily if you hold a light behind the nail. Identifying the quick in dark nails can be quite difficult. Ask your vet or groomer to show you before you attempt those ones at home. And, don’t forget the thumb! It’s quite sneaky, and it’s called the dew claw.
Holding your dogs paw firmly, but not uncomfortably in your hand, place the nail into the clippers, ensuring the quick is not inside the cutting area. Its best to only take a few millimetres off at a time, especially in those dark nails. The clippers should be parallel to the foot pad. This will help avoid the quick, and mimics the angle of a naturally work nail. You can use a nail file to smooth any rough or jagged edges. If you do accidentally cut too far, cornstarch can be very handy to quickly stopped the bleeding.
Remember, little by little is the way to go! Good Luck!
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