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How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Few things cause more anxiety for both pets and their owners than the task of trimming your dog’s nails. Even though it’s a fairly simple process, most people don’t know how to trim dogs’ nails properly. It helps to start handling their feet and trimming their nails when your pup is young so that they can get used to the process. You should never use human pedicure tools or products; always use dog-friendly clippers or grinders. You can also train your furbaby to look forward to getting their paw-dicure by rewarding them with tasty treats every time you bring out the clippers.

Why it's important to watch a dog's nail growth

Regular nail maintenance isn’t just a superficial beauty treatment for dogs. Unhealthy nails can cause discomfort, and in rare instances, trigger irreversible damage to your pup. Long nails cause dogs feet to splay, which reduces traction. Over time, this can cause deformed feet and tendon injuries.

How to tell if nails are too long

Depending on their lifestyle and level of activity, some dogs wear their nails down naturally and won’t need to have them clipped as often. If your doggo’s nails touch the ground when they walk or turn sideways when your pup is standing, those babies need to be trimmed. You should never hear their nails clicking on the floor when they walk. Long nails are problematic because as the long nail makes contact with the ground, dangerous pressure is put on Fido’s foot and leg.

Steps to trimming a dog's nails

Before approaching your dog, it’s important to check their body language to ensure they are calm. That way, there’s less of a chance they will start moving around or lash out. Although most vets do provide nail clipping services for a small fee, you can easily do it yourself! Simply follow this guide for how to trim dogs’ nails at home.

  1. Distract them with a yummy treat or chew or peanut butter filled Kong.
  2. Pick up a paw and firmly, but gently, put your thumb on the pad of the toe you plan to clip, and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way so you can see where the nail is.
  3. Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward to extend the nail.
  4. Only clip the tip of the nail, straight across and parallel from the bottom of the nail. Include the dewclaws (located on the inner side of the paw.)
  5. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail, or you risk hitting the quick (the area of the nail that contains the blood vessels). A cut there is painful and will bleed. Light-colored dogs will have a pink quick, while dogs with those edgy, dark nails will have a chalky white ring.
  6. Reward them with another treat for being a good boy/girl!

You can also use a nail grinder if you find that easier than using clippers.

What if it bleeds after dog nail trimming?

Even when you’re very careful, it’s always possible that something goes wrong during this process. Don’t panic if you see a little bit of blood on your dog’s nail. If your dog’s nail starts bleeding, try to stop the blood flow and prevent any dirt from getting in contact with the wound to avoid infections. If the blood flow doesn’t stop after 30 minutes, contact your vet.

If you cannot contact your vet and need to act immediately, use a styptic pencil or powder (can be found at any pharmacy) on the broken skin. Ice cubes can also help reduce the bleeding.

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