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How To Trim Dog Nails? Step-By-Step Guide

How To Trim Dog Nails? Step-By-Step Guide
How To Trim Dog Nails

In nature, dogs will run and walk on all kinds of surfaces, including hard surfaces. These will act as natural nail trimmers, which means their nails are worn down on a regular basis. However, dogs nowadays spend much of their life with us in the apartment where they walk on carpets and other soft surfaces. Therefore, their nails aren’t trimmed naturally, and we need to step in before this becomes a problem. But, how to trim dog nails without hurting him?

Why Is It Important To Trim Dog Nails?

It is very important to trim dog nails regularly. Overgrown nails can cause many painful issues in dogs. An overgrown nail can make it difficult for your dog to walk and even alter its gait. This, in turn, can result in several joint issues.

An overgrown nail can also break off unexpectedly, causing much pain to your dog. In certain situations, a broke off nail can also embed itself into a dog’s pads, thus causing even more pain and discomfort.

Overgrown nails will also cause overgrown quicks. Quick, or hyponychium, is the flesh under the nail. While the nail is dead and can be cut without any risks, the quick is alive, and if cut, will bleed. 

Another danger of an overgrown nail is that it can bend and start growing into the flesh. This is an extremely painful condition that needs to be treated immediately.

Last but not the least, overgrown nails can also cut and hurt you and your family members, especially children.

When To Trim Dog Nails?

Now, that we know why it’s important to trim dog nails regularly, we need to learn when is the right time to do it.

Ideally, dog nails should never protrude over the pad and touch the floor. However, you can’t always trim them at exactly the right time. 

On the other hand, you will hear that recognizable click-clacking sound when the nails finally reach the floor. This is a clear signal you need to trim your dog’s nails.

Start Nail Trimming Training While Your Dog Is Still A Puppy?

Dogs are like humans, they learn the best when they are young. Therefore, dog training should start while your dog is still a puppy. Trimming is no exception, you need to teach your dog from an early age that trimming equals praise and awards.

In the longterm, both you and your dog will benefit from this early training. Your puppy will learn to be calm and associate good things with trimming if you praise and reward him after each session.

Later on in his life, your dog will be completely relaxed and calm when you trim his nails.

How To Trimm Dog’s Nails?

Prepare the trimming tools

Standard nail trimming equipment includes scissors, dog nail grinder/clippers, flashlight(to help with dark nails).

Determine the safe range of the cut

This is the most important part of the trimming process. Determine the safe cutting range, so that you don’t cut the quick and cause pain and bleeding. In a lighter nail, you will be able to see where the quick is. However, in a darker nail, it’s quite hard to determine the position of the quick. Therefore, you will use a flashlight to see where the quick ends.

Trim the nails slowly

Cut the dog nails slowly and carefully, paying attention to the determined range of the cut. Always cut your dog’s nails parallel to the bottom of the nail.

Reward your dog

When the trimming session is over, remember to reward your dog with treats and praise. This will ensure your dog is calm and relaxed during nail trimming sessions.

How To Cut Dewclaws?

All dogs have a toenail on the inside of their front legs, we call this toenail dewclaw. It is basically a dog’s equivalent of a human thumb. Dewclaws are typically found on all four legs in dogs, with the front two more firmly attached to the rest of the paw and more rigid than the back two. However, some dogs can only have two dewclaws, and some don’t have them at all.

In any case, the dewclaws also grow as all other nails, and they need to be trimmed regularly.

Let’s go through the entire process of trimming dewclaws step-by-step:

  1. Prepare necessary tools for trimming dog’s nails. You will need a nail clipper and nail file. 
  2. Have your dog lie down on a blanket or a towel
  3. Choose a trimmer that best suits your needs (Scissors type trimmer or a guillotine trimmer)
  4. Dewclaw is not as firmly attached to a toe as other nails. Therefore, you can move it away from the leg slightly to fit your trimmer underneath it.
  5. Check again where the quick is so you don’t cut the nail too short or cut the quick

When the dewclaw is overgrown, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the tools you need for nail trimming
  2. Lie down your dog on the ground and have a helper to hold him down or use a harness
  3. Like in the previous situation, slightly pull the dewclaw away from the dog’s leg and position it for easy trimming.
  4. Overgrown dewclaw means overgrown quick. Therefore, cut dewclaw carefully and in small amounts to avoid cutting the quick and causing injury to your dog.
  5. If your dewclaw is dark in color, you can’t see the quick. Therefore, slowly and carefully trim the nail from the top, until you are happy with the length. In case dewclaw is lighter, you can see where the quick is and will be able to do this much easier.
  6. Cut the end of the dewclaw to the desired length using a guillotine or scissor trimmers. Be careful not to cut the quick.
  7. Sand down sharp points and edges using a file.

How To Stop A Dog’s Nail From Bleeding?

We have emphasized how important it is not to cut the quick. However, no matter how careful you are, accidents will sometimes happen. If you accidentally cut your dog’s nail too much and caused it to bleed, the most important thing is that you don’t panic. 

Estimate the severity of the cut, is the blood flowing slowly, or is the flow fast. 

If the blood is flowing slowly and you see a little bit of blood on your dog’s nail, try to stop the blood flow with a gaze or a piece of cloth. Keep the wound away from the dirt so it doesn’t get infected. If the blood flow doesn’t stop after half an hour, call the vet.

If it seems like the blood flow is fast, use a styptic pencil or powder, and then call the vet for further instructions.