Canine Nail Trimming

Foot care is an important part of your dogs health care.  Long nails are prone to being caught on things and getting broken which is painful.  Chronically long nails can lead to structural changes to the feet which can cause pain and arthritis later in life.

How do I teach my dog to have their nails trimmed?

It is best to begin teaching your dog to tolerate nail trimming at an early age by playing with their feet, touching, rubbing and gently putting pressure on the toes.  Introduce your puppy to the nail clippers and the noise they make when operated. Let them sniff and investigate them. Use a high value treat as reward for exhibiting positive behavior such as not flinching when applying pressure to the toes or not flinching at the sound the clippers make.

Do not feel like you have to do all the nails at one time.  Start with one and offer generous praise and your high value treat.  If you dog/puppy does not seemed overly stress repeat the process with another toe.  If you dog is nervous or becomes stressed stop and reward and play with them and try again later.  This is especially important with a dog who may have already developed a fear from a prior bad experience.  Removing small amounts of nail on a regular basis will cause the nail quick (the pink area within the nail where the nerves blood vessels are)  to recede deeper into the nail and will allow you to get the nails shorter over time.

What types of nail trimmer should I  use?

There are different types of clippers to choose from depending on the size of your dog and your preference.  If one type does not work for you and your dog you might try a different one. Many people like using a dremel tool with a sand belt, but it does take time and patience to acclimate your dog to the sound.

What do I do if I accidently hit the quick?

In the event that you do accidently trim a nail into the quick, it is good have either a clotting agent such as “quick stop” or a styptic stick to stop the bleeding.  If you do not have either on hand a pinch of flour will also work.

How do I trim the nail and avoid the quick, especially on a black nail?

One technique that helps is to hold the handle of the nail trimmers flat against the toe pad and cut straight across the nail, so that the nail will sit just above the ground.  This technique makes it extremely unlikely you will cut the nails too short. To get a shorter cut than the previous method, aim to cut at a 45 degree angle, after visualizing the quick. See Chart below.