If you're a pet parent with an aversion to trimming nails, you're not alone! Many people are so reluctant they outsource a groomer or vet. This is fine if you're in a position to make (and pay for) appointments as often as your dog needs her nails trimmed.
However, what often happens is that too much time passes between appointments and nails get uncomfortably long. This can cause injury to the paw. You'd be surprised by how many dogs end up at the vet with paw pain and other problems, which could have been prevented with regular nail trims.
There are several other advantages to learning to trim your dog's nails at home:
Keeping your dog's nails trimmed doesn't have to be a chore, even when you've had a bad experience in the past!
Pets who've developed a phobia about nail trims will require extra time and TLC, but with patience and a pup-friendly approach most dogs can become accustomed to regular nail trims.
Although nail clippers can be effective, there is a risk of cutting the quick if your dog makes sudden movements. Clipped nails also have straight edges which tend to damage furniture and wooden floors. If this is something you are concerned about, you probably want to look into getting an electric nail file.
Electric nail files give you more control and eliminate the risk of cutting the quick. They also allow you to trim nails round and smooth.
I personally own and recommend this nail trimmer and I have used it for many years with no regrets. It has a silent motor, which is great for anxious dogs as the low noise will not startle them. For more info, click here.
Most dogs are uncomfortable with their human "holding hands" with them, which is also the reason they object to having their paws held during nail trims.
Dogs' paw pads are loaded with nerve receptors that help protect them when they walk and run. These receptors also make their paws more sensitive to handling than other parts of their body.
The last thing you want to do is hold your pet down or with an overly firm grip, this can increase the fear level, which can lead to a fight-or-flight response.
Incorporate paw touches into petting. Do this by stroking the head and body then working your way to the paws.
If the only time you touch your dog's feet is to trim her nails, she will immediately know what's coming when you touch her paws.
Another thing to keep in mind is not to rush, you can always go back and take a bit more off but you can't erase the pain memory if you cut one too close.
If you create a painful experience for your dog during nail trims, she'll forever associate trimming with pain.
I recommend the use of food treats, soothing speech and cuddles to create positivity around nail trims.
Also, to start off, only trim one nail a day. Especially if your dog has a very low stress tolerance threshold.
Instead of trying to "get it over with", by doing one nail each day trimming can become a quick and relatively pleasant daily experience for you both and neither of you will become "stressed out!".
Regular nail trims are very important! Unlike human nails, the longer you leave dog nails untrimmed the longer the vein inside the nail will grow - making it difficult to keep the nails short. To avoid this from happening it is recommended to trim the nails every couple of weeks, and keep the quick (and nails) nice and short!
Many dogs have dark nails, which are especially tricky because you can't see the pinkish quick, which is the blood vessel inside the nail that nourishes it.
Shine a small flashlight or penlight on dark nails so you can see the quick, which should appear like a black bullseye in the center of the nail from the front view vs guessing how close you are to it.
Please avoid the quick. In fact, don't even get close to it. You only want to trim the white or dark ends of each nail.
A traditional cut just takes off the bottom of the nail. The alternative cut line (ACL) removes the outer layers above the quick as well. The orange line demonstrates the traditional line that nails are trimmed, while the blue line is the ACL. When the lines are drawn on the same picture, you can see how much more nail is able to be trimmed before reaching the quick. The trim should be at an angle. This way more of the quick is exposed to air, causing it to recede faster. So, don't forget the alternative cut line when doing nail trims!
Do very small trims — even if it is a half dozen or more each nail — until you can see the quick inside the nail.
If the quick (blood supply to the nail) is long, trimming once a week will help the quick recede faster.
If you hit the quick of your dog's nail, the amount of blood that tiny wound produces can be impressive. You might panic and so might your dog!
If "heaven forbid" you trim into the quick and draw blood, have some styptic powder (or cinnamon powder) on hand - you can even use a teabag if you have nothing else!
Apply the powder to the wound with a wet Q-tip and hold it right up against the cut nail to stop the bleeding.
Due to the gentle nature of our trimmers you should never need to do this, especially if you follow our trimming advice but please have some on hand just in case, to avoid any possible panic.
*My favorite herb to stop bleeding is cinnamon powder. Gently apply cinnamon to a wound and it will stop bleeding quickly! But for a mixture that will help to kill germs and stop bleeding, please refer to our blog section on, how to make your own 100% natural styptic powder.
Start trimming in the safest and most humane way! Happy trimming🥰