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How to Clip Dog Nails ( A Guide)


how to clip dog nails
15 min read

All that is new to us tends to scares us a bit, and the fear that arises when it is time to clip your dog’s nails is totally valid and understandable. However, we can’t refrain form learning how to clip dog nails.

If you don’t clip your dog’s nails, you’re risking their physical health.

So if you care about your four-legged best friend, continue reading this how to clip dog nails guide because I am going to answer that question in a way that is going to make your task a little less tedious and a bit more efficient.

I am also going to explain the consequences that will arise if you don’t, so make sure you stick around to learn all about clipping your dog’s nails.

How to clip dog nails – Why clip your dog’s nails; what are the consequences? 

Just like how our long nails collect dirt, bacteria, and miscellaneous debris beneath them so does our dog’s nails. Unlike us, they can’t go wash their cute paws and nail with some warm water sand soap to get rid of the bacteria.

Even their alternative form of cleaning; also know as their tongues, can’t get the job done. Not because their saliva and tongues are incapable of efficiently cleaning, but because it is difficult for the tongue to reach beneath the nails and clean them.

how to clip dog nails

Not to mention how the dog might hurt their tongue while doing so. This bacterial could then be transferred to their bloodstream if the scratch too hard to the point to they start bleeding.

Also, just because their tounges can’t reach the dirt trapped beneath their nails, it doesn’t mean that the bacteria can’t be transferred to them while they lick their paws, and thus enter their bodies orally.

If you’re still not sold on how important it is for you to clip your dog’s nails despite this dire consequence, there are other serious medical reasons that you could avoid by trimming your four-legged best friend’s nails.

The four other horrific consequences resulting from neglecting your one of dog’s essential grooming practice ( nail clipping) are:

  • Ripped nails
  • Slipping and Falling
  • Torn nails
  • Joint Pain
  • Damaged paw beds

How to clip dog nails- Ripped nails

When your dog’s nails grow too long, you’ll often find them attempting to free their nails from carpets and other fabrics. That occurs because long nails often find their way to get stuck between woven fabrics.

This leads your dog to be in a tug of war with whatever their nails are stuck in to break free. Because longer nails are usually more brittle and prone to breakage, this puts your dog in a position where they might break their nail, or get it completely pulled off.

Ouch! Not only is that going to be very painful for your lovely dog, but when the nail is pulled off, the quick will get exposed. The quick is a blood vessel that supplies your dog’s claws with blood as it runs through their nails.

So whether the nail was completely torn off, or the nail was broken to where the quick is, you’re still going to see your four-legged best friend bleed.

You should take your puppy right away to the vet if this happens. The veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and pain killers to prevent any serious medical issues from arising due to bacterial infection and soothe your puppy’s pain respectively.

How to clip dog nails – Slipping and Falling

Things we never think a lot about is why do we have nails? Do we only have them to scratch an itch and open things more easily, or do they have a bigger purpose.

Well, when it comes to dogs, nails play an essential role in keeping your dog balanced when they walk and giving them a firm grip on the surface they’re marching on; thus preventing them from sliding across that surface.

When a dog has long nails, the length of their claws forces them to walk in a plantigrade position.

This is a position in which dogs walk on the soles of their feet, thus your dog’s toes get pushed upwards ( again, due to the long nails), which forces their heels to come downwards in an attempt of restoring their balance.

how to clip dog nails

This plantigrade position puts a strain on your four-legged best friend’s muscles and ligaments that are in their legs. This change in their bone alignment is going to make your dog lose their balance. This position is also going makes your dog’s leg more liable to getting broken.

The plantigrade position is going to make your precious dog lose control while running due to their inability to have a firm grip or restore their balance, and this they will often slip and fall.

How to clip dog nails- Torn nails

Like I have previously mentioned, long nails are very brittle, which means that they can break very easily. Do you recall that one time you were doing a regular activity like washing the dishes or just grapping something, then “crack!”, they’re broken?

Well, the same thing occurs to your dog’s nails as well. When their nails get long and they participate in any sort of rough games, your dog’s nail will unfortunatly get torn.

The sad thing is, this isn’t even the worst part. Things get worse because your dog’s nails are made of two things. The hard outer shell, which just got torn, and the quick, which we’ve discussed earlier in this post.

If the split of the torn nail reaches the quick, it will leave your dog in pain and liable to bacterial infection. Similarly to what we discussed during the ripped nails section, you must take your dog to the vet right away.

How to clip dog nails- Joint Pain

We’ve talked about how long nails force dogs to walk in a plantigrade position. Recall how long nails push your dog’s toes upwards, thus forcing the heels to come downwards? Well, the plantigrade position puts a strain on your dog’s leg muscles as well.

how to clip dog nails

The pressure that’s put on your dog’s bones, which are now in a different alignment ( the plantigrade position), will make your dog struggle with joint pain.

How to clip dog nails- Damaged paw beds

When dog nails grow too long, they curl. This curling allows the sharp tip of their claws to be able to push and prick their paw’s soft tissue, leaving your four-legged best friend in so much pain.

This is definitely going to cause an inflammation, so you will still need to pay the vet a visit so they could prescribe your dog antibiotic and painkillers.

Don’t worry, I am know going to tell you how to clip dog nails. I just wanted you to see how painful and dangerous long nails are for your dog.

Let us talk about how you could be your dog’s superhero by avoiding these unnecessary pains by regular trimming their nails. Let’s start with the tools that you’re going to need.

How to Clip Dog Nails- Tools for clipping dog’s nails

In order to clip your dog’s nails, you’re going to need the following:

  • Clippers
  • Clotting Powder
  • Treats

How to Clip Dog Nails- Dog nail clippers

Dog nail clippers exist in different varieties. There are the scissor clippers, guillotine clippers, and the grinder tools. Here are the tools for how to clip dog nails.

  • Scissor clippers are a type of dog clippers that work like scissors and are preferable for larger dogs who have very thick nails.
  • Guillotine clippers work like a guillotine. It is a tool where you put your dog’s nail into the hole and then a blade is lowered to cut the end of the nail. Guillotine clippers work best for smaller to medium sized dogs.
  • Grinder tools are electronic nail grinders; you can consider them a motorized innovation of regular nail files. The Grinder tool grinds away the nail little by little.
  • Unlike the previous two forms of clippers, grinders work by filing the nail one small bit at a time instead of cutting an entire piece at once.

Grinders are a great tool to use when you want to trim a black dog’s nails. Since you can’t see where the quick ends in a black dog’s nails, grinders make trimming your dog’s nails safer, easier, and hassle-free.


How to Clip Dog Nails- Clotting powder to stop the bleeding

Remember how we talked about when nails get completely ripped off, or when the nails get torn to the point where the split reaches the quick? That the dog bleeds and that they’re now prone to bacterial infection an need to go to the vet as soon as possible.

Well, sometimes people cut their dog’s nail too short, and thus reach the quick. Most dog owners and groomer have done that at least once before, so don’t let this scare you. When a dog is in pain, the last thing you want to do is make them feel that you’re worried. This will only make them even more anxious.

Luckily, there are many powder products used to stop the bleeding if you cut the quick accidentally. Make sure you always have a styptic powder next you before you start trimming your dog’s long nails.

How to Clip Dog Nails- Dog treats

Remember always to practice positive reinforcement, which is a behavioral training practice where you reward your dog’s good actions and turn a blind eye to their bad behavior. You can do so while cutting their nails, so they grow less wary of this grooming regimes with every nail trimming session you give them.

You can do saw by giving them some treats after every nail you finish trimming. Using some positive language such as “Good boy/ Good girl” and patting them is also recommended. This turns something that they dislike into to a rewarding experience that makes your dog feel happy.

How to clip Dog nails- The three steps guide

1.) Use a good nail trimmer tool

how to clip dog nails

Get a good trimming tool and start using it on your dog’s nails. Don’t forget to pick the correct tool that suits your dog best. If your dog is big in size, then use the scissors clippers. To do so, hold your dog’s palm paw in one hand, and hold the scissors tool in the other.

Hold and use the clippers they way you would while holding a normal pair of scissors and cutting someone else’s nails.

If they’re small or medium in size, you can use either the scissors clippers or the guillotine clippers. This is a tool where you put your dog’s nail into the hole, and then a blade is lowered to cut the end of the nail.

You can use grinders on any dog, but these are especially recommended for dogs with black nails. Grinders work by filing the nail one small bit at a time instead of cutting an entire piece at once.

Like I previously mentioned, one can’t see the quick in dogs with black nails, so the safest way to trim these dogs’ nail is by filing them with a grinder.

2.) Cutting the nail

Cutting the nail needs to be done in a specific way. To cut nails, hold your dog’s foot and press on the paws. Start by cutting the hair surrounding the dog’s toes to avoid making the blades of you nail clipper dull. After doing that, look at the nail and search for the pink area if the dog has white nails. That is your quick.

Leave some nail space between the quick and the point at which you’re going to cut your dog’s nail at.

Now, slide the trimmer over space that is considered to be a safe spot and start cutting because you’re staying on the whitish parts of the nail and avoiding the pinkish part of the nail because it contains blood vessels. We want to try our best to prevent cutting the quick, which really hurts your dog.

While cutting the nail, make sure that you are decisive and make a smooth, quick squeeze on the handle while holding the trimmer very steadily. Don’t forget to reward your dog with some treats and back patting.

3.) Stop the bleeding if it happens

It is not the end of the world if you accidentally cut your dog’s quick; they won’t die from it so take a deep breath and grab the styptic powder. Make sure that you the clotting powder next to you before you start trimming your dog’s nails.

If you cut the quick, put some powder in the palms of your hand and dip your dog’s broken quick into it and hold it in for a bit. After thirty seconds, you can lift your dog’s paw and make your dog sit down.

Don’t allow them to lick the powder, so distract them by giving them some treats.The bleeding should stop in about five to seven minutes.

If it continues to bleed after the seven minutes have passed, apply more styptic powder. If half an hour has passed and the bleeding hasn’t stopped, then put your dog in their crate and take them to the veterinarian. If your dog isn’t crate trained, then check out our How to Crate Train A Dog | The Ultimate Guide blog post.

How to clip Dog nails- Tips on how to clip dog nails

how to clip dog nails
  • Get your dog’s used to getting their feet touched. You can do this is without using the trimming tools. All you have to do is massage your dog’s feet to make them get used to having their feet getting touched.
  • After the massage, give them some treats and pat them so they start associating the act of getting their feet touched as a positive thing that they enjoy.
  • Scan your dog’s feet for dirt and debris between their feet and toes.
  • Keep your dog’s hair that is on their feet and between their paws trimmed so that dirt and debris don’t stick on your dog’s fur.
  • Take your time and introduce the clipper to your dog by making them sniff the scissors and see it. Start opening and closing the scissors slowly so they understand that this sound isn’t something they should be scared of.
  • Cut the tips of your dog’s nails at a slight angle.
  • Avoid letting the nail tips become curved by regularly trimming your dog’s nails.
  • Avoid cutting down the quick by leaving a quarter of an inch after the quick ends, and only cutting the nail after that.
  • If your dog has black nails, stick to filing their nails to avoid cutting the quick.
  • If you accidentally cut the quick, just apply clotting powder right away.

How to clip Dog nails- Methods to restrain your dog while trimming their nails.

Place your dog on the table

We want to make this grooming regime of having your dog’s nails did a positive one, and you can’t have positive vibes without the mighty presence of yummy treats.

Start by placing tour dong on a table, and giving them some treats with one hand, while separating each toenail of their paw and squeezing out their nails.

After cutting every nail, give your dog more treats and pat their backs. This is way, you’re implementing positive reinforcement, and with time, your dog will endure or even learn to enjoy getting their nails clipped.

How to clip dog nails for fearful dogs

how to clip dog nails

Get your dog used to seeing nail clippers

To accustom your dog to clipping their nails, you have to follow certain steps. To do so, call out your dog and pick up the clippers. Make them sniff it, then give them treats.

Next, start slowly opening and closing the scissors, so they get accustomed to the clipping sound. Again, reward them with some treats. This way, won’t get scared of the clippers when you start cutting their nails.

They also won’t be that curious to move around to get a closer look cause they already know what you’re holding.

Acquaint your dog to paw handling

When your dog is relaxing, lightly touch her palm. Then, use a calming sound to calm your dog as you hold their palms. Gently squeeze each toe and then apply pressure on the nails.

If your dog becomes afraid, stop for a period of time and give them some treats. Try to do that daily until they get used to you touching their feet.

Get your dog used to the sound of clippers

Open and close the clippers as you offer your dog a treat. Slowly, decrease the space between your dog and their clippers without touching the dog. This way you are accustoming your dog to the sound of clippers.

Combine paw handling with the clippers

Handle your dog’s paw and open and close the clippers. As you keep moving toward your dog’s paw, keep talking in a calming voice. Then squeeze your dog’s toe and clip a small part of their nail with the clipper. Finally, reward your dog with some treats.

Clip your dog’s nails

Now that your dog feels safe around the clipper and is no longer scared of the clipping sounds, you can go ahead and trim down their nails.

How often to clip your dog’s nails?

If your dog doesn’t go out much, then clip their nails once every week. If they often engage in heavy outdoor activities, then once every three weeks should be good enough.

That’s it for today’s post. I hope you now understand how crucial it is for you to cut your dog’s nails frequently. The consequences are truly dire, and I am sure that you never want your four-legged best friend to endure so much pain, especially since it could be easily avoided.

Now that you know how to trim your dog’s nails, which tool would you prefer using? If you have any questions regarding how to clip dog nails, then leave them in the comments down below.

If you’ve already clipped your dog’s nails before, feel free to share with us your experiences in the comments as well.

Nada

Welcome to my bio everyone, my name is Nada. Ever since I was little, I have loved animals because they are so loving and kind. All they need is you attention, love, and care but I didn't understand them very well because I didn't get the chance to raise them. Well, That changed when my family and I got our first dog Rocky, a German Shepherd. Rocky was fun and loving with funny quirks. Being loyal and protective of us, he made me see the nature of a German Shepherd. Now, we have another German Shepherd named Mia. She is a wonderful dog and a rescue who just needed a second chance in life. Mia has long grown from being a terrified dog to the brave and caring German Shepherd that she is today. P.S: Here is a picture of our beautiful German Shepherd, Mia.

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