Long toenails cause painful arthritis in dogs but here’s how to clip his nails at home saving money and stress on you both.
HOW TO TRIM DOG NAILS WITHOUT DRAMA
Sherry Shivley, Journalist Award Winner
When you get out the nail clippers does Fido hide? Does it take a team effort to get those nails clipped? Do you take your dog to the vet for nail clipping?
Here are some tips to help make this dreaded toenail chore easier for you and your pet. It will take persistence because;
Like any job, you need the right tools. Need motivation? You can buy the same tools the groomer or vet uses for less than the cost of the nail clipping service!
The two best nail trimmers are the old guillotine dog toe nail clipper when the nail is grown out too long (scissor type works for toy breeds) and the Dremel toe nail grinder which is my choice. Click the links, type into your search engine, or check your local retails.
Here’s a “tool tip”. The fine grit Dremel nail grinder for pets is a pretty quiet, consistent sound whereas the “click” is intermittent and directly associated with past pain.
No matter what you use you need to start from square one as if you and your dog or cat has never had their nails done before.
Keep the trimmer or grinder where you sit to relax… That way you can just pick up your pet (and your toenail tool) and hold them on your lap. Let them smell the clipper or grinder, rub them with it, and give a treat when they show relaxation while you rub them with it.
When you are watching your favorite show, or you are on the computer or reading, calmly rub down your pet’s leg and touch their feet. Most times it is not the clippers that are the problem but handling the feet. If you massage their feet and legs starting with short amounts of time then increasing it, they will decide it’s not so bad to have their feet touched. It begins to feel like “petting” and who doesn’t love a foot massage?
Once the whole foot is ok to touch, rub each toe, and hold for a few seconds. Try touching the nail, running your thumb over it to help desensitize them.
As your pet is accepting that they are not going to lose a limb when you touch their feet, start finding a comfy way to hold them and their feet. With small dogs I find it easier to hold them against my side, arm around their body, and underneath to hold the front legs. With the other hand I use the Dremel and quickly grind the nail.
With a large breed, you may need to get on the floor or sofa to be relaxed and comfortable. Remember, you’ve made a new habit of holding or resting with your dog in this way.
Don’t expect perfection your first time. Don’t get upset and DON’T QUIT!! If the screaming, squirming and nipping starts, calmly tell your pet "NO, stop that" and continue. If you get nipped hard, take time to reprimand your pet. Biting is NEVER OK.
Continue with your work. After each foot, a treat is ok. Don’t forget to have it handy before you start because if you stop to go get the treat, your dog won’t make the proper association. Expectation of the treat makes nail care sooo much easier once your dog knows that cookies are involved! I do all nails, then mine get cookies. They lie on the sofa while I do it. They are old hands at getting nails trimmed.
You can easily tell where the quick (blood supply) ends in white nails because it is the tiny pink line. Black nails are harder as you cannot see the quick so just do a little at a time. It is very important that you do not grind or cut into the quick. That is painful! Here’s the trick to getting nice short healthy dog nails - as you continue to trim regularly, the quick will retract so you can trim the nail shorter and shorter.
With a Dremel tool to grind the nail, if you get too close and nick the quick, it seals it off, so there is no bleeding. If you are using clipper types keep some corn starch, flour or Kwik Stop handy to dip the toe into to stop the bleeding. It is not life threatening, and contrary to the carrying on, they WILL live!
Be sure to trim the Dew claw if your pet has one. They have a tendency to grow back into the leg. Use the same technique- if it is white, trim to the quick. If its black, trim a little off each week until it is a nice short length and not at risk of being torn.
I “Dremel” my dogs every week. Why is trimming so important? Dogs walk on their toes. If their nails are too long, it can cause pressure on bones, shoving them back. This causes pain, arthritis, and is hard for them to be active leading to obesity.
If your pet has been so traumatized that he insists on biting, use a soft muzzle to keep you safe from teeth. Being consistent with trimming is the key to success. It is so much healthier for you to trim Fido than having a Veterinarian use a tranquilizer for a five minute job.
If you try and feel as though you are still having trouble, ask your groomer to help. With practice you will breeze through nail trimming as though you have done it since birth.
See ya around the ring!