Posted 21st Jul 2016 by Peter Byrne
In our previous guide we established why trimming your dog's nails was so important, which means it's now time to get clipping! Here are some hints and tips to make the process as simple and stress-free for you - and your dog - as possible
Ideally your dog's nails should be trimmed every two weeks - as a rule of thumb, if you can hear the nails clattering on your lino, they're probably too long.
It's the prospect of accidentally cutting the quick that daunts so many people - it is basically the nail's blood supply, so if you do inadvertently clip it, it will bleed and hurt just like a human nail would.
You will also need to decide on the size of clipper. Smaller clippers provide better control over the trimming, but bigger breeds will normally require larger clippers.
As a little pointer, before you start make sure that you don't inadvertently crush the dog's paw when you pick it up - this will only stress him out and make him squirm. Instead gently grip the paw and separate the claws.
The basic principle for cutting the nails is simple - do not trim across the quick but instead trim around it.
If your dog has a pigmented nail, it should be easier to see the nail structure than on a white nail. If the nail is insensitive there should be a chalky ring around the sensitive quick.
A simple method is to cut a small portion from the top left , then from the same nail, trim a small portion of the top right tip. Then even the nail by clipping a small portion from the middle tip. If you still have a fair distance to the quick, you can then repeat the process until you get closer, but don't get too close - leave a small section around it.
After trimming back the insensitive nail, it will start to dry up and recede, enabling you to cut the nails even shorter next time. Every dog will inevitably have a different type of nail but long toenails will be dry and cracked in appearance and should have obvious separation between the living tissue and the insensitive nail.
Once you've trimmed them, the nail can be smoothed with a 'pedi-paw' type grinder which provides a similar impact to an emery board.
Should the worst case happen and you inadvertently trim the quick, make sure you have some styptic powder to hand, as this will help to staunch the cut.
Try and make the experience as enjoyable as possible - give your dog treats and make him realise it isn't something to fear. You don't even have to do all of the nails in one go. Instead you can trim one, give your dog a reward, and return to the task later.
And remember, if you do feel uncomfortable doing it, you can always ask your groomer or vet to do it for you.
Image courtesy of Getty / Moment / itsabreeze photography