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How to Cut Your Dog's Nails

How-to-video|Guillotine|Scissors|Grinders|Nail File|Kwik Stop

Five things to keep in mind:

1. It must be done

Your dog's nails can grow into his pad which can deform a puppy's growth and make walking painful for an adult dog. Even if your dog walks on concrete sidewalks each day, it won't be enough to completely keep his nails trimmed. Learn to do it yourself or pay $10 or so to have a groomer or vet tech do it.

2. How often depends on your dog

The easy way to tell if your dog needs his nails trimmed is to have him standing and then look at him in a side view. Do his nails at most merely touch the floor? You don't want a click, click, click sound as he walks on a hard floor. I prefer to keep my dog's nails right above the floor. Most dogs need trimming every two to four weeks depending on how short you want the nails.

3. There is no easy or quick way to trim his nails (except to pay someone else to do it)

If your dog has white nails, put them under a direct light or flash light and see if you can see the pinkish shadow under the nail which is where the quick starts. If your dog has black nails, use a direct light but look underneath his nail, not on top. In all cases, have Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder on hand in case of bleeding.

If you clip your dog's quick once, he will forgive you. Do it a second time and he'll learn to fear the clippers. Try to clip him a third time and you may have a fight to the death.

4. Don't forget the dew claws (if he still has them)

Many dog breeds have these nails or digits on the inside of the front legs and occasionally on the hind legs. They don't touch the ground so they'll never be ground down naturally. You must trim these or they will grow inward toward your little dog's legs.

5. Watch the video below before you start

Guillotine type nail clippers for dogs
Dog Nail Trimmer

Guillotine Type Clippers - Resco Deluxe Original Dog Nail Trimmer with Handle Grips

I think the guillotine type are easier to use than the scissors, but it's
a matter of personal preference.

The guillotine clippers have a stationary ring through which the nail is placed. You squeeze the handles and the cutting blade moves up to slice off a bit of nail.

TIP: The cutting blade should be facing you, NOT the dog. The screws on the handle of the clipper should be facing the dog.

You want to cut the nail at a 45-degree angle so you cut top to bottom or bottom to top.

Do not hold the clipper parallel to the nail as the cutting action may splinter or crush the nail.

Millers Forge Professional Nail Clippers for Dogs
Nail Clipper

Scissor Type Clippers - Millers Forge Nail Clipper

The scissors type clipper is placed at a right angle to the toe nail.

Close your hand around the clipper to squeeze the handle which will move the cutting blade. Cut straight through the nail on a horizontal line.

One brand I like is Millers Forge and these are perfect size for small or Toy breed dogs: Millers Forge Professional Nail Clip for DOGS AND CATS

Tip: Dip your blades in Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder before you start cutting. That will help if you accidentally nip him.

I don't recommend QuickFinder Deluxe Dog Nail Clipper in either the scissors or guillotine style. The product sounds great, but it didn't work great for me. It didn't "read" the quick accurately in my dog's black nails. The guillotine version of it is the QuickFinder Small Dog Nail Clipper for dogs up to 40 lbs.

Either QuickFinder product comes with a DVD and manual. It's a great idea, and you may want to try it. I admit I'm not a technology wizard.

Dremel nail grinder for dogs




Nail Grinders

The granddaddy of the brands and the one I use is Dremel 7300-PT 4.8-Volt. I find this much easier to use than either type of manual clipper. My dog has black nails so avoiding the quick is difficult. With the Dremel, I grind slowly and in tiny increments. I haven't clipped him too closely since I started using it.

I like the Dremel better than other brands because of it's sturdy and because it's a cordless battery operated model that is quieter than the electric plug in ones. (Mom and Dad use it on their on their toe nails!)

The downside is that you will need to recharge it and replace the batteries on occasion. If you prefer the electric plug in type, a good model is the Oster Pet Nail Grinder.

I do not recommend the PediPaws Pet Nail Trimmer The commercials hooked me, but I found it to be under powered and threw mine away.

There's also a smaller grinder called PetZoom Nail Groom Dog Nail File which should work OK on smallest Toy breeds e.g., Chihuahua, Yorkie). It doesn't have as much power as the Dremel and won't be suitable for larger dogs.

With any grinder, there will dust from the nails, and you will need to familiarize your dog with the sound of these before your start.

See how to do it here:

Dog nail file with ergonomic handle
Nail File for Dogs

Nail File

Regardless of type of clipper you use, you may find that your dog's nail(s) have jagged edges or you just need to file one that caught on something.

First, try your own emery board. That should work for a puppy. If the nails on your dog are too strong for a human board, try a metal nail file made for dogs such as JW Pet Company Nail File for Dogs

Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder

Look in the kit of any professional groomer and you'll probably find this product. If you're going to trim your dog's nails, you should have this on hand. Dip your clippers in it before you start cutting.

If you accidentally cut into his quick, pour a little powder in the lid of the container and put your dog's paw in the powder. That will stop the bleeding almost immediately.

Once bleeding stops, a dab of Orajel (the product to stop tooth aches) will help stop the hurt.

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