Who hates nail trims more, you or your dog?
Most of us dislike nail trims. There are so many uncertainties: what trimmer/clipper to use, how to do it, where to trim the nail, how often to trim, and oh yeah, the dog doesn’t really like his feet handled. With young, active dogs, nail trims aren’t needed as often because their activity tends to naturally wear down the nail length. With all of that, it’s no wonder that nails are one of the last things we dog owners think about.
But hold on a minute. Nail trims are important!
Did you know long nails…
- Are more likely to break off and be painful (and bloody).
- Change the way your dog stands.
- Are painful for your dog.
- Can increase the likelihood of your dog slipping or falling down and injuring herself.
- Mar hardwood floors.
- Are painful to you when your dog jumps on you or paws you for attention.
- Can lead to permanent joint damage and pain.
So what’s a good dog owner to do?
Nail Trim Anatomy
Hitting the quick is one of the things I hate about trimming my dog’s nails. The quick is indicated by the black center of the nail in the illustration below. The quick is softer than the nail that surrounds it and carries blood into the nail and it’s quite sensitive (and bleeds a lot when nicked).
There are a couple different tools to trim your dog’s nails. Some prefer the nail clippers, but I love to use a grinder so I can avoid cutting the nail too deeply. It’s really hard to mess up and cut into the quick with a grinding tool because the nail is taken off gradually as opposed to being cut off. I use a Dremel with a handy flex shaft attachment to give me the most flexibility when grinding.
This is the first in a series of how-to nail trimming articles. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about:
- The four most common mistakes people make when trimming nails
- How to get your dog used to having her paws held for nail trims
- How to get your dog used to the Dremel tool (before you trim any nails)
- How to trim your dog’s nails with the Dremel tool.
Talk back! Let us know who trims your dog’s nails. You? Groomer? Veterinarian?
Please talk about how to keep a long haired dog’s foot hair from wrapping around the Dremel. I tried using an old pair of panty hose (which might work on a large dog whose nails are spaced far apart, but not on a small dog with skinny feet whose nails only serve to rip one big hole, which defeats the whole purpose). Thanks.
Laurie Luck says
I think putting the old hose on without any holes being cut and then putting just an itty bitty tiny hole at the point where every nail touches might be helpful to get a few small holes (instead of one large hole that wouldn’t help at all –you’re so right). Another idea might be to get the foot wet — soaking wet. Then brush the hair back away from the nail before trimming the nail.
That’s what I did (let his nails poke the holes), but because his nails are so closely spaced, I soon just had one big hole. Wetting the foot is a great idea too. Thanks!
Jeanne Melanson says
I’ve always trimmed my own dogs’ nails. It was intimidating at first, but I got the hang of it. If one of my dogs seemed nervous, I’d only do a couple of nails, or one paw, at a time. Don’t want to stress them out for no good reason. Thanks for posting (and for using an image from my blog.) 🙂