How To Cut A Dog’s Nails

How To Cut A Dog's Nails

How To Cut A Dog’s Nails

When did you last cut your dog’s nails? Ideally, you should be checking them on a regular basis to ensure they don’t get too long.

Your dog’s nails will grow all the time and will need keeping in check. If this isn’t the case, it can put too much pressure on your dog’s legs, paws and toes, which can cause a considerable amount of discomfort. Infection and splitting of the nails can also become a problem.

If you’re not sure how best to go about cutting your dog’s nails, here’s what you need to know.

How Often Do I Need to Cut My Dog’s Nails?

This can vary depending on the breed in question and whether your dog’s lifestyle is affecting how much his or her nails are worn down naturally. If your dog leads an active life, walking and playing may mean that his or her nails are worn down to some degree. This is much less likely if your dog is more sedentary. Generally speaking, the nails on the back legs don’t need cutting as often as those on the front legs. There is also the “dew” nails to think about too. These are located on the inner leg and are unlikely to be worn down by activity as they do not come down to the floor.

If you can hear your dog’s nails tapping on the floor when he or she walks on a hard surface, this is a sign that it may be time for a nail cutting session. From a visual point of view, the nails shouldn’t be extending beyond the pad of your dog’s paws and when he or she is standing, the nails shouldn’t reach down to the floor.

Should I Cut My Dog’s Nails?

It can be difficult and even dangerous to cut your dog’s nails properly if they are dark coloured. This is because you’ll struggle to see the “quick” (the blood vessels and nerves inside the nails). You can make it easier to see the “quick” by concentrating on the underside of the nail (where it is often easier to spot), shining a bright light through the claw towards you, or by bathing the nails beforehand.

It’s recommended that you aim to cut the nails approximately 2mm away from the “quick”. This is a relatively fine margin so if you can’t see this area or you are just not comfortable with the idea, it’s better to ask your vet to cut your dog’s nails instead.

If your dog has light coloured or clear nails, and you feel confident, you should be fine to attempt it at home. Dark nails can still be cut at home but you’ll need to be much more careful not to accidentally cut the “quick”.

How to Cut Your Dog’s Nails

You’ll need specially designed nail clippers for the task. There are various types available, which work well in different scenarios. If your dog’s nails are curling on itself or if the nails are particularly thick, you may need to use nail clippers that have a scissor-cutting action. In many cases though, nail clippers that have a guillotine-cutting action will work fine.

Whichever type you use, it’s vital that you use a firm hand and make a quick, decisive action when you cut the nail.

If you decide to go ahead and cut dark nails yourself, do it in very small stages to minimise the risk of cutting the “quick”. After every cut, take a good look at the tip of the nail. Look out for a dark spot in the middle – this indicates that you’re at the edge of the “quick” so you’ll want to stop cutting when you see this.

Check out this Youtube video for a visual guide to cutting your dog’s nails:

What If I Do Something Wrong?

If you accidentally cut into the “quick”, using styptic powder, pencils or pads will stop the blood flow. If you don’t have any of these to hand, hold a tissue against the wound. It should stop bleeding within 5 minutes. Don’t allow your dog to lick the area as this will hinder the healing process.

Contact your vet if you have any concerns.

[photo credit: MTSOfan]

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