Hygiene & Dental Care
Many people are afraid to trim their dog’s nails and prefer to have a veterinarian or groomer do the clipping. This is fine, but if you prefer to clip your dog’s nails yourself, here is how to go about it.
To clip your dog’s nails at home you first need the appropriate nail trimmer. The nail trimmer should be the right size for the thickness of your dog’s nails with sharp blades so that the nails are cut rather than crushed. The crushing action of a blunt blade can hurt your dog. Sharpen or replace the blades often.
Getting Familiar With Your Dog’s Nails
Your dog has four nails on each paw plus the dewclaws which, unless they were removed, are located half way up each of his front legs, and sometimes on back legs as well. Inside each of your dog’s nails is the quick – living tissue composed of blood vessels and nerves. You do NOT want to cut the quick as this is painful to your dog and causes a surprising amount of bleeding. If your dog has light-colored nails you can make out the pinkish outline of the quick inside. If your dog has some light-colored nails and some black nails you can figure out where the quick is on the black nails by using the location of the quick in light-colored nails as a guideline. If your dog has all black-colored nails you have to be extra careful when you are trimming and just clip off the very edge of nail where it seems to hook over and become a bit thinner.
Time To Trim
Most dogs do not like their paws touched so it's best to teach your dog early in puppyhood to be comfortable having his feet handled. If your dog pulls away, tenses up, growls, snaps or bites when you handle his paws, please consult a behavior specialist who can help you teach a more relaxed response. Confrontation, restraint or force are likely to make the problem worse and nail trimming almost an impossibility.
To trim the nail, cut straight across just at the very tip being extra cautious to avoid the quick. If you cut too far and reach the quick, your dog will bleed. Stop trimming and apply firm pressure to the wound with a paper towel or gauze pad until the blood flow has stopped. You can also apply a cauterizing powder which can be applied to the bleeding nail to stop the bleeding. Cauterizing powders are available at many pet supply stores. Be aware, however, that this powder can sting.