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Whether you have a dog that can easily tolerate having his nails clipped, or you have one that is absolutely petrified of the process, keeping your dog’s claws a sensible length is very important to their health and wellbeing. Regular trimming can:
Prevent snagging on carpets and other flooring
Stop them from curling round and ingrowing
However, most importantly, a dog’s nails are a part of their anatomy and having nails that are too long can alter the way in which your dog moves and carries himself. The altered position causes the bones in his feet to sit at a different angle, which in turn puts pressure on the joints. Over time, this can cause significant joint pain and lead to arthritis.
Changing the natural alignment of the joints can also make your dog much less steady on his feet. This means that he is far less likely to be able to catch himself from falling or landing well, increasingly the probability of broken bones.
How often will I have to trim my dog’s nails?
Exactly how often you need to trim your dog’s claws will depend on a couple of different factors including what breed he is, and what sort of lifestyle he has. Dog’s that spend a lot of time outdoors run around over a variety of surfaces that naturally wear their claws down. This means that they won’t need to be trimmed anywhere near as often as indoor dogs, as carpet, tiles and hardwood flooring don’t provide enough friction to file down his nails.
What sort of clippers should I use?
There are two types of nail clippers for dogs – guillotine and scissor styles. Which you use will likely come down to your own personal preference in terms of handling them, but in terms of performance, both work equally well.
Some owners find that their dog is unable to tolerate either style of clipper and instead choose to use a nail grinder. This is a good alternative, but the process takes significantly longer and many dogs still dislike the noise and vibrations that come with filing down their claws instead.
5 steps to trim your dog’s nails
Spread each of your dog’s paws and inspect them, including the pads, for dirt, debris or ticks.
Take a firm but gentle hold of his toe. You should hold your trimmer so that you are cutting the nail from the top to the bottom at a slight angle rather than side to side. Do not trim at a blunt angle, instead you should try and maintain the natural curve of the nail.
Cut a little piece of nail at a time until you can see the beginning of a nail-colored circle appear on the cut surface. This circle indicates that you are nearing the vein that runs into the nail – known as the quick – and that you have cut down far enough. In dogs with black nails, the circle may be harder to identify.
If you accidentally cut into the quick, it will probably bleed. Use some corn starch to help stem the bleeding.
Once you have cut all the nails, use a file to smooth down any rough edges that are potential snagging risks.
My dog won’t comply with nail cutting no matter what I doIf your dog really won’t tolerate you cutting his nails then you should never just leave them. Instead speak to a professional dog groomer or your veterinarian who may have more success.