5 Tips For Trimming Dog's Nails At Home

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Trim days are very important for the overall health and well being of a dog. Just like humans wash their hands and cut their nails to keep germs and diseases at bay, dogs have to get the same treatment when it comes to their feet. 

Cutting your dog's nails not only makes them look better but also has a wide range of health benefits as well. Claws that grow too long or into the paw can cause a lot of foot pain and discomfort to your pet. Long nails can also get caught on objects and be torn off, causing injuries. They could break, chip, or splinter from use. Untrimmed nails also make it harder for dogs to walk by putting pressure on the nail bed. 

Keeping your dog's claws in the proper length protects owners as well. Indoor dogs could get a lot of germs, dirt, or debris caught in their nails and bring them into the house thereby increasing the risk of people getting sick. Dogs also tend to lick their paws, so you definitely do not want them ingesting all that under-the-nail dirt.

Dog Nail Anatomy

Dog's claws are usually somewhat oval in shape; wider at the base attached to the toe and narrower towards the tip. They are made of a protein called keratin. A dog's nail is generally divided into two parts:

1. The Tip

This is the horn-like part of the dog's nail. It has no nerve and therefore has no sensitivity. The tip of a dog's nail is the part that can be trimmed off  and it could either be clear or dark, due to breed and gene. 

2. The Quick.

This is a bed of nerves and blood vessels inside a dog's nail. The quick appears pink in clear-nailed dogs and is harder, sometimes impossible to spot in dark-nailed dogs. It is best to be careful not to cut into the quick while trimming because it not only bleeds but causes pain to the pet due to the presence of the nerves there. 

Tips For Trimming Dog's Nails At Home

Trimming your dog's nails doesn't have to be scary. It could be just like a spa day for your and your dog. You can trim your dog's nail at home by following simple guide:

Get your dog familiar with the clippers or grinders

Most dogs refuse to keep still during trims partly because they are not yet familiar with the trimmer or the trimming process. This is why it is best to start cutting your dog's nails from an early age. Younger dogs adapt to trims more quickly than older ones.

However, you can get an older dog familiar with the grinder or clipper by allowing them to touch, smell or even play with the nail grinder a few days or weeks before trimming them. It helps reduce their anxiety and discomfort when the grinder or clipper is introduced during a trimming session, as it is an object they are already familiar with.

Get your dog comfortable

It is important to get you and your dog into a comfortable position or one that indicates trust when trimming. A good position ensures you can reach and firmly grip all its paws easily without having to twist its legs. It gives you a clear view of what you are doing. Some owners find it better to sit opposite their pets or hold them in between their legs in a snuggle. You can quickly find a position that works by experimenting. It should always be one that ensures your dog is comfortable.

Choose suitable trimming devices 

Next step is to pick your preferred trimming tool. By weighing the pros and cons of using either a clipper or a dog nail file, you can decide on a tool that better suits your needs. Clippers are precise, straight to the point and easy to use. Grinders/dog nail files are better known to give owners control and deftness, due to the kind of technology used in making them.

For clippers, you would want to clip off your dog's nails very carefully, so you don't accidentally cut into his quick and risk injury. 

Proper positioning and technique

Identifying the quick is the first step. It is a pink area in clear-nails, which is easy to spot. In black nails, you should use a trimmer to take off your dog's nail little by little, until you see the dot that indicates that you're getting close to the blood vessel. Make sure to stay away from the quick when using the trimmer. Also note that it's enough to hold grinders for a few seconds.

You should hold your dog's paw firmly but not too tightly, as that would cause them pain. Trimmers must also be held well so you can avoid mistakes if your dog moves suddenly. Claws should be trimmed from underneath at a 45-degree angle, by following the dog's nail natural shape.

Take your time and use rewards

It's not recommended to force your dog. If they wiggle too much, take breaks. The goal is to make the activity of trimming your dog's nail safe and enjoyable, not feared.  It's better to take the process slowly, especially with bigger dogs or pups that are new to trimming. You shouldn’t do all the nails in one day. Depending on how your dog cooperates, you could time the cutting of each nail, just so your dog doesn't have a hard time getting used to a trim.

Reward your dog. It helps them associate trimming with treats rather than pain or discomfort. It is the best way to keep dogs calm while cutting their nails.

How To Trim Black Nailed Dogs

Trimming black nailed dogs can be tricky, as the quick blends with the nail. However, these few steps can help you get the job done.

  1. Use a nail grinder. These trimming tools are better suited to dark-colored nails because they take off a little nail at a time. They reduce the risk of cutting into the quick.
  2. Grind off little by little until you see a dark circle or dot in the nail. That circle is the telltale mark of a quick just ahead. Grinding off more after that circle could mean cutting into the quick and injuring your dog.

What To Do If You Over Trim

Over-trimming happens more often than we know and is usually not life-threatening for your dog, especially when you can take care of it. In cases of cutting into the quick, here are a few first-aid steps to follow:

Do not panic and try to calm your dog

As hard as it may seem at the sight of blood, you have to remain calm. Panicking also causes your dog to stress, increasing their blood pressure and the rate of bleeding. Though it will be painful for your dog, reassure them with pats or even treats when necessary to get them to calm down.

Stop the bleeding

You can easily stop the bleeding by applying a clotting substrate like cornstarch or styptic powder to the wound. It is advisable to keep some handy every time you trim your dog's nails.

Wrap up the cut

Make sure to wrap up the place of contact with a good bandage. Wrap firmly and not tightly, so you don't discomfort your dog or reduce blood flow. Wrapping up your dog's cut with a bandage would prevent further dirt or bacteria from getting in. It also serves as a good environment for the injury to heal properly.

Final thoughts 

Dogs are wonderful friends and they deserve to be healthy, safe and active. Trimming your dog's nail is a very vital activity and shouldn't be a hassle. Overtime, if done properly and affectionately, trim days can become experiences dogs look forward to. 

It's also expedient that you cut your dog's nails frequently. As a better indicator, you can trim whenever you notice their nails are about to touch the floor. If you hear clickety clicks on surfaces every time your dog walks, that's a big telltale sign that your pup is due for a good trimming session.

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