You should trim your dog’s nails at least twice per month, though you can work on them gradually every few days at first as they learn to tolerate grooming, especially if they are already overgrown.
It is less stressful for your dog when you groom their nails at home, rather than allow your veterinarian or groomer to do it.
When your dog’s nails are too long, it can affect your dog’s posture, and even make it painful to walk. Dew claws are particularly vulnerable to curling into the skin.
Before Your Work On Your Dog’s Nails
It’s important that you create a calming environment before you start grooming your dog’s nails. MediPet Calming Spray has a lavender scent that your dog will find soothing.
Make sure you have everything you need within arm’s reach, as you won’t be able to get up easily once you begin. You may want to have some styptic powder or cornstarch to stop bleeding if you cut a nail too short.
Ideally, you will be able to teach your dog to tolerate grooming with as little stress as possible. You may want to use a Baskerville muzzle that allows your dog to breathe and accept treats to ensure your own safety, just in case your dog gets scared and tries to bite.
You can give your dog a small, flavourful treat like Serrano Beef Bites after each nail completed. You could also stuff a Kong with xylitol-free peanut butter or canned food so your dog can snack while you trim.
It can also be helpful to give your dog plenty of affection between trimming. It’s beneficial to learn Tellington TTouch techniques that create a calming response. For example, try massaging the base of your dog’s ears as you trim.
Locate The “Kwik”
The kwik is the blood supply running through your dog’s nail. If you trim too much, your dog’s nail will bleed. Do your best to avoid cutting the kwik, as a painful experience will cause your dog to be fearful of grooming.
Some dogs’ nails are transparent, others are black. Your dog may have a mix of each. It’s easier to see the pink kwik running through your transparent nails. If your dog has had long nails for a long time, the kwik will be long, too.
If you’re not able to trim much of the nail because you are afraid of cutting the kwik, try again in a few days. As the nail becomes shorter, the kwik will recede.
Use A Sharp Pair Of Nail Clippers
A dull pair of dog nail clippers can crush or crack your dog’s nails. Make sure the blades on your clippers are sharp so they can make a clean, fast cut.
Your clippers should fit comfortably in your hand, and you should be able to make quick, accurate clips. You can practice on a dry strand of spaghetti before trying them out on your dog.
If your clipper blades are dull, you can sharpen them or invest in a new pair. You may be able to sharpen your clippers by folding a sheet of aluminum foil a several times, then “clipping” the foil. If this does not work, your local hardware store may offer a sharpening service.
Try A Grinder Tool
Some dog owners prefer a nail grinder tool to nail clippers. You can try both and see which is easier for you to use and less stressful for your dog.
To use a grinder tool, make sure the sanding belt is rotating away from the dog’s nail. Only touch the grinder to the dog’s nail for 2-3 seconds at a time, as the friction will create heat that could be unpleasant to your dog.
Stress-Free Nail Care
Some dogs are more tolerant of nail trimming than others. If your dog is relatively calm, you should still offer a treat after every nail to make the experience enjoyable.
If your dog is terrified of having their nails trimmed, they may whine, scream or try to bite. You may need to work with a veterinary behaviourist to help you gradually condition them to relax.
While you are training your dog to tolerate nail trims, you may fall behind on trimming. It can be helpful to take your dog for long walks on pavement to help grind their nails down in the meantime.