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How to trim your dog's nails

Updated on November 29, 2007

Our vet calls our dog a ballerina everytime we take him to have his nails trimmed. Apparently he bends his feet unlike any professional balet dancer. Fact of the matter is dogs do not like it much when you fiddle around their toes and they can get agittated. That is why it is good to have your dog used to the sensation of having his nails trimmed from a very young age.

However if that is not an option, it would be best to start off with gentle foot massages so your dog can get used to the sensation of you fiddling around his feet. Start the massage at the top of the legs and go downwards finishing off with the toes. Gently press each of the individual toes. After 2 weeks of this, your dog should be more accustomed to the sensation. Even before you begin prepare everything to have it at hand you will need nail clippers (best bet would be sharp, quillotine shaped dog clippers), nail file (to trim the nails), styptic power (in case of a bleed) and plenty of treats (you did not really think this would go without a treat?). Make yourself and your dog comfortable and lay the dog down on the floor (smaller dogs can get comfortable in your lap). Try not to be nervous as animals can sense our unease and of course react to it.

Take the first paw and with a nail file clean out the dirt underneath. Do this gently and carefully, you do not want to scare off your dog before you have even started. Next locate the quick on your dogs nail. Now this can be tricky for dogs that have black nails, so I would be extra careful. With dogs that have white nails (like mine does) you can notice the quick as a faintly pink line that goes right under the nail.

Once you have located the quick take the clippers and cut the front off the nail off making sure not to cut too close to the quick. In case you have cut too close there might be a bleed use syptic powder to stop the bleeding. In case there is no bleed you can file the sharp edges with a nail file. For dogs with black or dark nails since it is more difficult to locate the quick, you can take off smaller snippets of nail rather then one big chunk. As you take off smaller snippets, keep checking your dog's nails as you go along, you should see a dark spot in the middle of the clipper area, that is the quick - do not go or cut to close to this. You can from nail to nail on each paw and do not forget plenty of treats as you go along.

Also do not forget your dog's dew claws. As they do not see the wear and tear like the rest of your dog's nails these can grow very long and get caught in the bedding, carpet or furnishings and cause great discomfort for your dog. So do not forget to trim those as well.

If all of this proves too traumatic for your dog and you as well, you can always opt either for a professional groomer or have your vet clip your dog's nails.


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