Many dog owners will look at their pet’s nails and wonder how they ever got so long. Often, the answer is that we didn’t take the time to maintain them and clip them. It is important to stay on top of this grooming process so our pet’s feet remain comfortable and healthy. This is easier said than done for some inexperienced dog owners. So, how can we learn to trim overgrown nails in an effective, safe manner?
Where to start?
Getting started with cutting dog nails isn’t as simple as picking up the nearest pair of nail clipper and getting to work. There are lots of factors to take into consideration before you can get the best result – and before you can provide the best experience for your pet. You need to
- Find the best tool for the job.
- Make sure that you consider the health and safety implications.
- Ensure that your pet is calm and happy to proceed.
- Understand the best way to get a good result.
Find the best tool for the job
There are two different types of nail trimming tools that you can use to cut your pet’s nails down to the right length. They are a dog nail clipper and a dog nail grinder. Dog nail clippers are often popular at first because they have a familiar action and don’t produce much noise.
The basic idea is that we line up the nail in the clipper, push down and cut the nail in the right place. The problem is that cautious dog owners can struggle to get a clean cut in the right place. You may also need to file the edges afterwards.
Dog grinders may seem scarier at first, but the gradual grinding process is far more advantageous for a smooth result at just the right length. There are lots of products out there with great safety features, ergonomic designs and other helpful elements. Many of the best dog nail grinders are also low-vibration and low noise models to help nervous animals.
Think about health and safety
Once you have the right tool, you need to be sure that you proceed in a safe manner. The worst thing that you can do is rush the job to get things over and done with. You may risk injuring your pet or damaging the nail. It is important to be aware where the quick of the nail is and to finish grinding below that point. If you hit the quick you could hurt the animal and make them bleed. Accidents can happen, so make sure to have some styptic powder on hand to stem the bleeding. It can also help to trim the hair around the paws so it doesn’t get caught in the grinder.
Make sure your pet is calm and happy
The calmer and happier the dog, the better the chance that you can have a clean, uneventful grooming session. It helps to train dogs from an early age to have their paws handled for grooming sessions. If you have a rescue dog, make sure that you are patient with them and set them up with a favourite blanket or cuddly toy. If they want to stop – stop! Also, give them lots of praise and treats for good behaviour.
Cut the nails to just the right length in a slow, methodical manner
Your pet’s nails are too long if they extend beyond the paw pad and scratch at the floor. But, it is possible to cut them too short too. Don’t overcompensate because you think it will buy you some time before you have to cut the nails again. This is where you can risk injury to the quick.
Check the underside of the nail to see where the hollow part ends and the quick starts. Work slowly to grind the nail so that it is just shorter than the pad. Be extra careful when working with black nails because it is harder to see the quick.
It also helps to make sure that you do each paw at a time, and each nail at a time. Make sure each nail is the right length and smooth before moving on. This methodical process means that you can maintain quality control, but it is also better for the dog. You don’t want to confuse them by getting them to shift between paws too often.
Don’t forget that regular grooming will reduce the risk of overgrown nails altogether.
It is one thing to handle overgrown, problem nails in a beneficial, safe manner. It is another altogether to stop the nails from getting in this state in the first place. There are some dog owners that put off these grooming processes because they don’t want the hassle, or feel that they don’t have the time. They will wait until it is essential to clip the nails because they are overgrown. However, small consistent efforts are a better idea.
Try and make time each week for a good grooming session with your pet. This approach can have all sorts of benefits for the pair of you. Regular nail cleaning, coat brushing and other tasks can stop the dog from developing painful conditions or health problems. A shorter touch up each week doesn’t mean that you need to clear your schedule for an afternoon. Finally, there is the bonding experience. Grooming is a chance to spend quality time with your animal. You can gain their trust even more and this is crucial if there are ever further problems with their nails.
Take your time to create a good schedule with the right tools.
Dog nail trimming doesn’t have to be difficult with the right tools and approaches. But, it always pays to be prepared for problems and to run through the same process each time. Create a schedule your dog can become familiar with. Get them used to the process each week and work to ensure that their nails don’t get overgrown or pose a hazard. Most importantly, never rush the process or see it as a chore. Make the most of this time with your animal, grind each nail properly and enjoy the benefits.