Many people may want to avoid trimming their dog’s claws, whether it’s because they’re scared of hurting their pet or simply because the dog doesn’t like having them trimmed. However, grooming can be a very important part of the overall healthcare routine.
While it may be okay to leave this task for canines that are more active (as their toenails may wear down naturally), there are a few good reasons why it can be important to clip the toenails of dogs that aren’t as boisterous.
Why cut a dog’s claws?
For most dogs, there are two main issues that can come with having long claws – both of which can be avoided if they’re trimmed properly.
The first problem that can arise relates to genetic conditioning. Dogs (as well as many other animals) receive information about where they are from the nerves in their paws. Generally, the only time that their claws will touch the ground beneath them (especially short canine breeds) is when they are in a position to climb.
In these events, most canines will instinctively lean over their front legs, shifting their weight to be in a better position for the activity. As there isn’t really anything to climb, they’ll then need to shift their hind legs in order to avoid injuring themselves.
This can often mean a lot of extra work for the dog’s muscles and joints, which can lead them to experience difficulties with a range of everyday tasks (such as climbing stairs or even getting up). By cutting down their nails, it’ll be much less stress for their bodies.
The next issue may not be as serious, but it can still be important to ensure that it doesn’t occur.
In most cases, long toenails can result in painful feet. When a dog’s paws come into contact with hard floors, their toenails will be pushed back into the nail bed, which will either cause pain on all of their toes’ joints, or they can twist a particular toe– but these instances can often be avoided with regular clipping.
Using the right tools
There are plenty of tools that can trim dogs’ claws safely, but choosing the right type can make all the difference.
Most find that the best equipment for these kinds of tasks are scissor clippers. It’s important to note that when using them, the whole toenail shouldn’t be put into the clipper. Sometimes, guillotine-type trimmers can cause pain, as they may crush the toe when clipping.
In addition, it can be a wise idea to use smaller sized trimmers, as they can typically offer better control (however, larger breeds may need bigger clippers). It’s also generally important to use tools that are sharp, too.
Files can also be used – and although it may take some work, it can be a better idea for individuals who are worried about hurting their pets. Although standard nail files can be used to buff a dog’s claws, it can take a long time to achieve the desired result. Instead, using a Dremel file (which acts like a sander) may be the best solution.
How to trim dog nails in a few easy steps
Clipping a pet’s toenails doesn’t have to be difficult. However, most find that by following a few simple steps, it can be made safe and even enjoyable for a dog! Generally, these tips can help to ensure that the dog is safe whilst their claws are being cut.
- Hold the dog’s paw and show them the trimmers often, even if you don’t clip their nails every time (be sure to give them treats, so that they associate the clippers as being a good thing)
- When clipping their claws, make sure to hold their paw firmly – but not too tightly – and cut the claw below the quick
- It’s generally best to do this at a 45° degree angle and to trim off small amounts at a time
- Continue this until there’s white inside the toenail with a small, black dot in the centre
- Don’t go any further, but give the pet a reward and praise
It’s often a wise idea to trim a dog’s nails every few weeks (many people find that it’s most convenient to do so when grooming them), but depending on how active the pet is, this can be longer or shorter. There are also a few other factors that should be considered, such as:
- The age of the animal (in general, puppy dogs nails tend to be softer, whilst those of older ones are often harder)
- The size of the dog (not all trimmers are universal, so be sure to get the right ones)
- Their breed (the claws on some types of canines grow faster and the size can also vary depending on what kind of dog they are)
- The pet’s environment (if they live in an apartment, then their claws may need clipping more often)
For those who want to make the task of nail-cutting easier (and as efficient as possible), it can often be a wise idea to first get all of the necessary information before proceeding.
What is the quick?
Nails aren’t hard all the way through and because of this, it can be crucial to know how far to cut when taking care of the task of trimming a dog’s claws.
The vein and nerve that runs through the toenail, more commonly known as the quick, is incredibly sensitive and can cause a lot of pain if cut. For this reason, it can be important to be careful when trimming dog nails. It doesn’t go all the way through to the end of the nail – and it’s the parts without this root that need to be taken off when the nail is clipped.
Most people use styptic powder (which is available from most pet stores and pharmacies), baking soda, or cornstarch if they go too far when cutting their dog’s claws –generally to stop any bleeding that may occur.
Although styptic powder does typically have an initial sting when applied, it is often one of the best choices. It’s often a wise idea to keep paper towels, ice and a clean cloth nearby, too (especially for those who are new to trimming dogs’ nails).
One thing to consider is that it’s often much more difficult to trim nails that are black or have a dark colour. In darker claws, it’s generally much harder to see the veins and nerves than in lighter claws.
The best thing to do is clip the part of the nail where it curves towards the floor, as this is the general area that helps owners to avoid cutting the veins and nerves.
What to do if the quick gets cut whilst trimming-dog-nails
If it gets cut, it’s important to make sure that everything is done efficiently and properly to ensure that the pet is safe.
The first thing to do is get a clean cloth (or a paper towel). With bigger cuts, it may be a wise idea to wrap ice enclosed in a clean cloth or paper towel to help reduce the bleeding. For smaller cuts, it may not be necessary to use ice.
Next, pour a small amount of styptic powder (or a home-made cornstarch or baking soda remedy) into a cup or bowl and dip the nail into the powder. Sometimes, it may be necessary to do this a few times to stanch the flow.
When there is no more blood coming out, continue to wrap the toenail with a cloth or paper towel and try to get the dog to lay down for at least 30 minutes. After, wash the claw with warm water and wrap it in a bandage to prevent it from getting infected.
Be sure to give them treats and praise for good behaviour if the quick does get cut. It’s important to note that, if the bleeding doesn’t stop in half an hour, get in touch with a professional vet and let them take care of the dog’s health.
Accidents do sometimes happen during nail trimming – but it can be avoided. If anything happens, it’s often a wise idea to contact an expert.
Being careful of the dew claw when clipping dog’s nails
A dog only has two dew claws, both of which are on their front legs. These are separate from the natural claws, as they’re typically found a little further up on the leg rather than on the paw. Dew claws are higher than the others – and because of this, they don’t tend to wear down in quite the same way.
It’s often a wise idea to clip the dew claw when trimming the other toenails (if not more often), as they can grow curled when ignored. As with the other nails, there can be issues that can arise without regular trimming.
One of the main problems is that if the dew claw is too long, it can get caught on grass, carpets, or even furniture – which could potentially cause damage to your home and force the claw to break, tear and in some cases further injure the canine.
Dew claws also have a quick too, so when trimming claws, it can be just as important to avoid cutting it as it is with the other nails.
Going to a veterinarian
Although it can often be crucial to take them to an expert if their quick gets cut, many people choose to let a vet take care of the trimming of their pet’s claws in general. For some, this is the best thing to do, as vets will often have all the information they need to ensure that the animal is happy and safe whilst their toenails are being trimmed.
Also, those who take their canine to a vet will be able to relax in the knowledge that their canine is in good hands, too. For those who have never clipped a dog’s nails before, individuals who are worried or people who want to ensure that their pet’s claws are properly cut, getting the help of a person who has experience and training in dog health and care is often the wisest idea.
Also, a groomer can professionally and safely take care of a dog’s nail clipping, too – and for some, it may be more convenient to go these kinds of experts instead.