Selecting and Using A Dog Nail Trimmer

Selecting a good dog nail trimmer is an important part of maintaining the proper length for your dog's nails. Each type of trimmer has its benefits and detractions and typically is most appropriate for a particular size of dog. The most important thing to keep in mind is that maintaining your dog's nails is an important part of keeping him healthy.

Types of Dog Nail Trimmers

  • Rotary grinders are the latest tool in at-home dog care. As the name suggests, the tool is used to grind down the excess nail length. Care must be taken not to grind too long on any one nail as the friction creates heat and causes discomfort to the dog. The benefit of the heat is that it causes the quick to recede, allowing the nails to be maintained at a shorter length. A grinder can be used on any size dog.
  • Scissor-action trimmers utilize two opposing blades with a half circle cut out in each blade. Blades on this type of cutter do not need to be replaced. When opened, the two notched blades form a circle through which the toenail is placed. Once appropriately positioned, the handles of the tool are squeezed together and the nail trimmed. This type of trimmer comes in two styles, the Miller Forge trimmer, designed for small to medium dogs, and the Large Dog nail trimmer.
  • The Guillotine style trimmer, as its name suggests, slices off the excess nail. The nail is placed through an opening in the end of the trimmer, the handles are squeezed and the excess nail removed by a blade that slides along the bottom of the tool. Blades for this tool must be occasionally replaced in order to maintain the tools effectiveness and to minimize any risk of discomfort to the dog. This style of trimmer is best used for smaller dogs.

How to Trim the Nails

Dog owners have all envied the dog groomer who can single-handedly trim a dog's nails. In order to accomplish this at home, the dog owner must exude the same level of confidence that the groomer does. Until both the dog and owner are comfortable with the process, it may be necessary to have an assistant available to help contain the dog and distract him with treats. With nail trimmer in hand, follow the instructions below to trim the dog's nails.

  1. Contain the dog, either on a table or on the floor, somewhere where they will feel secure. The ideal position is to have the dog facing the opposite direction that you are (if the dog has a tendency to bite when distressed, you might want to consider putting a muzzle on the dog).
  2. Starting with the rear leg closest to you, pick up the dog's paw, close to the ankle. Bend the paw so the pads are facing up. The nails will all be exposed to you.
  3. Using your tool of choice, trim the individual nails to the appropriate level. On light colored nails it is easy to see the quick through the surface of the nail. For dark nails it may be necessary to take several small clips from the nail, progressing slowly until a small black dot can be seen in the center of the trimmed nail.
  4. Repeat with each nail on each paw. Don't forget the dew claws if they haven't been removed. Be sure to praise the dog for being patient with the process. This way it will become a more positive experience for both you and the dog.

Whether dealing with a large, medium or small dog, dog owners can effectively trim their dog's nails at home. Having the right tool, along with the right attitude and a solid technique, will take clipping the dog's nails from a battle to a health maintenance process.