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How to Cut Dog’s Nails

Nail cutting or nail trimming is a real nightmare for almost every dog owner. Dog’s are also not fond of it and refuse to let their owners finish the procedure without drama and angst.

While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, these tips apply to any breed.

Of course owners don’t have to do this by themselves as veterinary practices and professional groomers offer such service, but the cost for nail cutting done by a professional is mind-blowing.

Not all dogs require for their nails to be trimmed, especially if they lead an active life running through all kinds of surfaces. This way the nails wear off in a natural way. However not all dog owners have enough time to walk their city or suburban pet more than two miles per day so nail cutting becomes a must.

While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, these tips apply for any breed.

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Leaving the nails to grow

There are numerous reasons why a dog must have short and neat toenails. First of all, if you leave your dog’s toenails uncut this will induce painful feeling and the dog will have hard time walking. The amount of pressure on the nails will increase and they will be pushed deep inside the nail bed causing various physical defects.

As the physical impact progresses the dog will soon enough start showing signs of arthritis and there is a big chance of harming the surrounding nerves. With this amount of pain it will be even more complicated to convince your dog to stay still while cutting his nails. Frequent nail trimming can prevent such complications.

Nail cutting – What you need

  • First of all you need nail clippers, scissor types, which need to be sharp enough and disinfected before and after every procedure.  Guillotine style clippers crush the toe, which is painful. Never put the whole nail in a clipper.
  • “Pedi-paws” type grinder: Smooth out your trim afterwards with a rotating emeryboard.
  • If you cut the quick, there could be bleeding; If so, use corn starch to staunch the bleeding if you make a nail leak. With shallow cuts, this will be rare.

Prepare your work area

  • Trim you dog’s nail outside or in a lightened room so you can pick up the remains later.
  • The procedure is pretty stressful for the dog so make it as soothing as possible.  Have treats ready.

Know the anatomy of your dog’s nail

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On a black claw, the area between sensitive and insensitive nail is usually chalky and white. On the right is a close-up view of the inside of the nail. On cross section, the sensitive quick will look translucent and glossy, like living flesh.

The biggest fear of owners is actually ‘quicking’ the dog; that’s when you cut the sensitive part of the nail and spontaneous bleeding occurs. In order to avoid this, make yourself aware of the little notch below the nail surface. This notch marks the ending of the ‘quick’ so cutting at the notch will leave the nails short enough and the dog unharmed. Even if you induce bleeding you can easily stop it by applying corn starch.

How to Cut your Dog’s Nails

Note that some dogs act like cutting their nails is their worst nightmare.  Because this is a sensitive procedure the dog needs to stay really still. If you don’t think you can keep your dog immobile during the nail cut, it’s better to ask for help from someone the dog knows and likes.

Start on the hind feet, because the nails tend to be a little shorter and less sensitive than the front.

Give a lot of praises to your dog while cutting his nails and throw in some extra cookies and treats.

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In untrimmed claws, there will often be a “notch” below the tip of the quick. It is usually safe to initiate your angled cut at the notch.

When you cut, you need to separate the dog’s toes with your fingers. Hold the paw gently and don’t squeeze the toes as this is really painful for the dog. The angle of the nail clippers should be almost parallel to the surface of the nail.

After trimming your dog’s nails, if they still have it in them, you can try to grind and buff with a “Pedi-paws” type grinder. Smooth out your trim afterwards with a rotating emeryboard.  You may want to give them a little time as not to stress them out more.

The frequency of nail trimming depends on the dog’s activity level and the factor of natural wear-off. Maintaining the dog’s nails short enough requires trimming sessions twice a month.

This post is brought to you by our pet deals and coupon site, Pet Coupon.  Check us out for our best deals and favorite pet supplies and gift ideas. 

As always, please check with your veterinarian if you have questions about treatments and your dog’s health.

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