Nail Grooming for Dogs

Nail grooming for dogs is an important part of your dog's grooming regimen. Many dogs wear their nails down walking on pavement, but most dogs still require some nail maintenance. If neglected, long nails can break, which is very painful and can lead to infections.

Nail Trimming Procedure

Since it's easy to cut your dog's quick, the live tissues in your dog's nail, only trim the tip of the nail. The more often you trim your dog's nails, the shorter the quick will be. So if your dog's nails are too long, trim more often but only take a little off each time as opposed to cutting a large chunk of nail.

If your dog has light nails, it's easy to see the quick because it's thicker and darker. However, if your dog has black nails, you can turn over his foot and notice where the nail starts to thin, which is where the quick ends.

If your dog has long hair on his feet, you can trim the hair before trimming the nails, or put panty hoes over your dog's foot until the nails come through without the hair. This will make the nails easier to cut.

The best time to trim your dog's nails is after a bath when they are softer and easier to cut.

Proper Equipment

Don't use human nail clippers to trim your dog's nails. There are several varieties of dog clippers available that are more appropriate for dog nails. Investing in a good pair of clippers is a good idea since cheap clippers can cause the nails to break, which results in frayed, uneven nails.

Ask a local groomer for the best types of clippers. Many of them even sell their favorite products, which are often higher quality than those in a pet store.

If your dog is afraid of clippers, try a Dremmel, which is an electric filer, filing the nails rather than trimming them. You can also use this to file uneven ends after a cut.

It's also a good idea to keep styptic powder or cornstarch on hand to put on the nail and reduce bleeding in case you accidentally cut the quick.

Training Polite Behavior During Trimming

It's especially difficult to trim your dog's nails when he's squirming, trying to escape or even biting. As important as proper nail trimming procedure is training your dog to tolerate handling. This can be done anytime but is easiest if you begin as soon as you get a new dog.

Start by picking up your dog's foot and giving him a treat. End the session. During the next session, hold each of the nails on that foot. If your dog starts to struggle, hold on and release when he's calm. Keep the sessions short so he isn't too frightened, and use lots of rewards.

Build up to holding each nail for 15 to 30 seconds. Only when your dog is calm during this should you try trimming a nail. During early sessions, trim only one or two nails and give your dog his favorite treat as a reward. Build up to trimming all the nails in one session.

Though this may take time, training proper behavior during trimming will help reduce your dog's fears and make the task of trimming without injury much easier.