Dogs need regular pedicures; they depend on us to keep their paws trimmed and comfortable. While you can pay a groomer to trim your dog's nails as needed, you can save a lot of time and money doing this chore yourself. Cutting your dog's nails is not as hard as you might expect; with a little preparation and experience, the job can be pain free for both you and your pooch.
Prepare Your Dog for the Process:
If your dog is not used to having her nails trimmed, she may resist the procedure, which can lead to injuries. Things will go more smoothly if your dog is used to having her feet handled before you attempt to clip her nails. Start by massaging her paws for a few minutes every day, and then finish each massage by gently touching each of her nails. Allow her to get used to these sensations over several weeks before bringing out the clippers. Once you are ready to try a trim, start with one nail and then give her a chance to calm down before moving on to the next.
Choose the Right Tools:
Purchase and use nail tools designed for dogs; do not use your nail clippers to cut your dog's toenails. Dog nail clippers come in two styles: a scissor style and a guillotine style. Both are equally safe and effective, so choose based on personal preference. However, consider your dog's size before selecting clippers. If your dog refuses both styles of clippers, you can try a nail grinder instead. These work by sanding down the ends of your dog's nails.
Make the Process Painless:
To prevent accidentally hurting your dog, make certain your dog is calm or restrained before cutting her nails. Hold each toe firmly when trimming and talk to your dog during the process to keep her calm. Insert a very small bit of nail into the opening on your clippers, and then cut from top to bottom (not side to side). Make as many small cuts as necessary to obtain the desired length, but be very careful not to cut the quick, which is the pinkish area inside each nail that holds blood vessels and nerves. Cutting the quick is painful.
Only Trim When Necessary:
Trim your dog's nails when they touch the ground. This may mean weekly cuts for dogs that remain inside or confined to grassy yards, and it may mean monthly or never for urban dogs that walk on rough roads or concrete sidewalks. Trimming too often can stress your dog and make it more likely you’ll cut the quick during pedicures; waiting too long between trims can lead to foot pain for your dog and scratches on your floors and furniture.
Seek Outside Help When Needed:
If your dog responds to nail trimming with panting, trembling, cowering, growling, snapping, tail tucking, or other fearful or aggressive behavior, consult your veterinarian. Do not attempt to clip your dog's nails at home. Your veterinarian can do the trimming for you and may recommend a trainer or behaviorist to deal with any underlying issues that may be causing your dog's extreme reaction.