Failure to clip your dogs nails can lead to crippling pain in your dog’s paws and could lead to permanent damage and malformation. If clipping your dogs nails is really not your strong point, take your dog along to your vet or groomer.
The goal is to trim off any bit that protrudes over your dog’s pad so when he stands, his claws should not touch the ground. Fortunately, the more you clip your dog’s nails, the more the nail quick will recede. Therefore, clipping dog nails doesn’t have to be done all at once – take your time.
The Tools For Clipping Your Dogs Nails
There are a variety of nail clippers on the market, but I recommend the guillotine type. If you have a large dog or a Basset Hound, you may need a strong claw cutter- they have incredibly large claws! It’s very important to read the instructions for the nail clipping tool you choose, because they must be used in certain very specific ways. It is also essential to keep a styptic pen within reach just in case you clip into your dog’s quick – but we’ll discuss this later.
A dog’s nail is constructed of a hard outer cover, which protects the quick which is the inner soft part containing blood vessels and tender nerve endings. In dogs with light colored nails, the quick can often been seen as being faintly pinkish in color and is thus easy to avoid cutting into. In the more common black nailed variety, the quick it totally invisible. In both cases, trimming off little nibbles instead of large slices is more advisable. Keep checking the clipped part of your dog’s nail and look out for a dark spot in the middle of the newly clipped area – this shows the start of the quick – do not cut too far into this. Taking just tiny nibbles, you will then start to see a pale third inner circle. Stop there – or else you are likely to hurt your dog.
Making The Cut
Making sure the dog is secure (use another person if you need to), position the tool in the right place, wait for an opportune moment when your dog stops wriggling, double check that the clipper is in the right place and squeeze firmly and smoothly – the nail will just pop off.
Don’t forget your dog’s dew claws. Growing on the inside of his legs and not in contact with the floor, these do not get worn away and will sometimes curl completely over causing your dog to get snagged in things, so these need to be clipped too.
If You Make A Mistake
Even experienced groomers will occasionally cut into a dogs quick, so don’t feel guilty if you do. Even though your dog may yelp, he’s not really hurt badly– it’s equivalent to a pinch. However, there will be blood so you must know how to deal with it. First, apply the septic pen or stick to his nail and it will stop the bleeding instantly. Then, give him a treat so he knows you weren’t being mean.
Finally, this bears repeating: your dogs nails need to be consistently trimmed, so if you can’t or don’t want to do it, then you’ll need to take him to a professional groomer.