Using Dog Toenail Clippers Safely

Dog toenail clippers can be difficult to use, mainly because dogs aren't wild about having their nails trimmed and tend to fight off their owners. However, with practice, you and your dog can turn a difficult chore into an easy task.

Choosing Proper Equipment

If your nail clippers are dull or too small for your dog, you won't have much success. Be sure that you keep your nail clippers sharp and use quality equipment. Many groomers and pet stores sell high quality nail clippers. Ask a local groomer what equipment they prefer and try to find a high-quality product.

There are two main types of clippers, one that cuts the nails like scissors and the other that cuts them like a guillotine. For both types, the blade should be facing you, not the dog. The scissor nails cut from side to side while the guillotine type cut from top to bottom. It's really up to you which you prefer.

Preparing the Dog

It's much easier to use clippers safely if your dog isn't pulling away from you and squirming. Thus, it's important to teach them from the time they are puppies to tolerate nail clipping. This is easy to do if you're patient and don't try to move too quickly.

First, practice only holding your dog's foot. Once he stops squirming, reward with a treat and release the foot. That should be the end of the session. Build up to holding all four feet, one at a time, for 30 seconds. After that, start holding toenails. Build up, one nail at a time, until you can hold all nails for 10 seconds each. Reward after each nail. Keep sessions short and rewarding.

Finally, build up to trimming each nail, starting with trimming one nail each day and slowly building up.

Trimming the Nail

When it's time to trim the nail, hold it firmly with your forefinger and thumb on each side of the nail by the skin. If your dog is squirming, have someone hold him or distract him so you can safely cut the nail, but if you have trained your dog, this shouldn't be a problem.

Don't get overambitious when you trim the nail. Cut only the tip, especially if your dog has dark nails. This will prevent any injury, though you will have to cut them more often.

If your dog has light nails, you will be able to see the quick. Cut about 2 or 3 mm in front of the quick to prevent injury. If your dog has dark nails, look at the bottom of the foot to see where the color of the tissue changes. This is the quick. To be safe, though, you can always just cut the curved tip off.

If you do cause bleeding, it should stop in about five minutes on its own. You can also place a styptic pencil containing silver nitrate against the wound to stop bleeding.