FAQs about nail trimming
We spoke to Edmond and veterinarian Melissa Smits, a partner at Fort Morgan Veterinary Clinic in Colorado, about the most common questions about trimming a dog’s nails.
How often should I trim my dog’s nails?
This depends on your individual dog. All nails grow at different rates, and dogs wear their nails down differently, too. Big, heavy dogs that run around outside may naturally wear their nails down, requiring less frequent trimming. “A Yorkie that barely touches the ground most days might need a nail trim every two weeks,” Smits said. “An Iditarod training or marathon running pal might never need one.” Rule of thumb: Trim your dog’s nails before they grow long enough to click on the floor.
How far down do I cut the nail?
Trim the nail as short as you can without cutting into the quick, which is the vein that runs down the center of the nail. If your dog has white nails, it’s easy to see the quick. If your dog has black nails, it’s harder to know exactly how far to cut. Conservatively clip just the hooked part of the nail to be safe. You can also ask your veterinarian for a demonstration on your dog.
When should I start trimming my puppy’s nails?
Start nail trimming as early as possible so your puppy learns to accept it. Even older dogs can learn to accept nail trimming if you approach it the right way. “Introduce the dog to the nail trimming procedure in a slow, fun, rewarding manner,” Smits said. “This will enable the dog to fall in love with the attention that comes with getting a pedicure and time with you.”
Which is better, nail clippers or a nail grinder?
Nail clippers cut through the nail whereas nail grinders file the nail down to a shorter length. Some dogs prefer the sensation of nail grinding over clipping, and you’re less likely to cut into the quick with a grinder. On the flip side, some dogs dislike the loud sound and vibrations of nail grinders. These tools also have a learning curve to be able to use them safely and comfortably. Smits recommends using the tool you feel most comfortable with, which will make your dog most comfortable.
What is the best nail clipper for my dog?
In general, a good dog nail trimmer should be easy to hold and have a sharp blade for smooth cutting. If your dog has very small or very large nails, choose a nail clipper that correlates. Look for clippers with blades made of stainless steel, which is strong and resists rusting. For timid dogs or those that are reluctant to have their nails trimmed, a quiet nail clipper is a bonus. At the end of the day, though, choosing the right dog nail clipper comes down to how you like using it.
Does nail trimming hurt my dog?
As long as you don’t cut too far down, it hurts no more than trimming your own nails. However, be very careful not to cut the quick. The quick is extremely sensitive. Cutting into it is painful and will cause the nail to bleed. It may also cause your dog to become resistant to nail trimming in the future.
What should I do if I cut my dog’s nail and it starts to bleed?
If you accidentally nick the quick, use styptic power to cauterize it and stop the bleeding. Scoop up a small amount of powder onto your finger or with a piece of gauze and press it gently but firmly against the nail. Hold for a minute or so until the bleeding stops. If you don’t have styptic powder, you can use use flour or corn starch instead.
I’m too nervous to trim my dog’s nails. Who will do it for me?
If you are not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, or if you are concerned your pet might bite if you try to trim the nails, seek professional help. Most groomers include nail trimming in their regular services. You can also make an appointment to have your dog’s nails trimmed at your veterinary hospital. “If the dog is an amiable sort, groomers are a phenomenal option,” Smits said. “If the dog is a holy terror, they might need sedation, at which point the veterinarian is your best option.”
How do I care for dog nail clippers and grinders?
After each use, wipe your clippers clean. When not in use, close the clippers and engage the safely lock to keep the blade protected. If your nail clippers get wet, dry them thoroughly before storing them indoors in a plastic or cloth bag with all of the grinding accessories. If nail clippers or grinders are left outside and exposed to dampness and temperature extremes, the metal can rust and plastic can warp.