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How to Safely Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Ask any dog owner about the most challenging part of grooming and most would agree, it’s cutting nails. Dogs are naturally prone to protecting their paws, so getting your pet comfortable with you handling them for grooming and nail trimming can be a struggle. However, this is a crucial part of maintaining your dog’s health, hygiene and safety. In this blog, we’re going to discuss how to safely acclimate your dog to paw handling and nail trimming.

Start slow.

The last thing you want to do is rush the process. First, buy a quality pet nail cutter or grinder. Start off by allowing your pet to sniff it and give him or her a reward- this can be treats, pets, a toy, whatever they prefer. The next day, touch the nail cutter to each nail and reinforce their calmness with treats again. Touch your dog’s paws with your hands, as well, so they adjust to the process.

Slowly increase the frequency of these sessions and turn on the nail cutter so they learn to pair it with treats and positive reinforcement. Start by trimming one nail at a time and reinforce your dog so they are not afraid of it. Once the repetition is down and they are comfortable with the sight and sound of it, you won’t have a timid or anxious dog in the process.

Have the right technique.

Gently grab your dog’s paw and hold it firmly, removing any fur that might be in the way. Pressing down on the paw pad slightly will expose more of the nail, making it easier to see and trim effectively.

Most importantly, make sure your dog isn’t moving. The last thing you want is for him to move and for you to injure them accidentally.

Cut straight across in a smooth motion.

You don’t need to cut too much off for it to improve their hygiene and comfort. Start by trimming the ends off and slowly work your way down so that you don’t clip their quicks by accident.

After each nail, provide a treat or their preferred type of reinforcement.

Avoid the quick.

Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting what is called the quick (the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels). A nick there is painful and will bleed. For dogs with dark nails, watch for a chalky white ring, states the American Kennel Club.

Grind the nail to finish it.

Cutting the nail can leave sharp edges that can be painful to you or your guests. To avoid this, it’s recommended that you gently grind the ends of the nail. This process can be introduced the same way as the cutter, and, in some cases, the grinder is all you need. If you have a quality specialized tool, it can be a one-step process.

Otherwise, gently round out the nail with the grinder to smoothen it. Start from the bottom and work your way toward the top in one swift motion. 

Keep in mind that this process can take a bit of time to ensure your dog’s comfort. Preparing your pet and building his confidence is crucial to being able to trim your dog’s nails at home safely.


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