Basic nail care is vital for your pet’s health and happiness. If only it wasn’t such a stressful task. Most dog owners have dreaded cutting their pooch’s nails at one time or another. Luckily, help is at hand. Whether you’re dealing with a frightened dog or you’re worrying about cutting your dog’s nails too short, this clever guide will teach you how to avoid the most common mistakes. Go on, get your Dremel out. Trimming your dog’s nails will be stress-free for the both of you.
Cut Your Dog’s Nails Regularly
Well-trimmed nails are essential to your dog’s health. Long nails may hamper its gait and posture, putting pressure on the nail bed and paw pad. Not-so-trim nails can crack, curl and become infected, causing pain and even serious injury. Not sure when to trim your dog’s nails? Listen out for your dog on a hard surface: if you can hear the nails clicking, it’s time to get the grinder out. Dogs that don’t regularly exercise on hard surfaces, such as older dogs, will need a trim more often, as their nails don’t wear down as much. Keep them nicely groomed and your dog will be one happy walker.
Use an Electric Pet Nail Grinder
With conventional nail clippers, you run the risk of cutting your dog’s nails too short, snipping into the pink, live part of the nail called the ‘quick’ which contains blood vessels and nerve endings. Cutting below the quick is painful for your pooch! Electric pet nail grinders like Dremel’s Pet Nail Grooming Tool (7020) can be a safe, stress-free alternative, allowing you to file away nails in a controlled manner. The quiet motor won’t frighten your pet and the safety guard protects your dog from the rotating parts. Even if you’re a fan of nail clippers, you’ll find the tool useful for smoothing.
Choose the Right Moment for Cutting Your Dog’s Nails
It’s quite normal for both you and your pet to feel a little trepidation at the prospect of a nail grooming session. It may be that your dog doesn’t like having its nails cut, or it may have trouble sitting still. Timing the cutting experience wisely will help. If your pet is more contented after a long walk or very relaxed after a feed, those are the moments to seize. Make sure you have a few dog treats at the ready too, to reward him or her for a job well done.
Ease your Pet into Paw Handling
Some dogs are very sensitive to having their paws handled, let alone having their nails filed. If this is your first time cutting your dog’s nails, be patient. Start by touching its paws gently. If your pet doesn’t resist or pull away, try massaging the paws and lightly pressing the nails. Repeat this for a couple of days. Depending on your dog’s age and temperament, it may take a few days or even a little longer to get used to it. Stay cheerful and offer treats – you’ll get there in the end. Once your pet is used to its paws being touched, it’s time to bring out the electric pet nail grinder.
Introduce the Electric Pet Nail Grinder
Allow your pet time to get to know the electric pet nail grinder at its own pace. Over the course of a few days, let the dog sniff and touch the tool. Turn the tool on a few times without trimming your dog’s nails, to familiarise your dog with the humming sounds and the vibrations it makes. Work towards touching your pet’s paws with the tool without it reacting in a startled manner. Don’t forget to offer lots of praise and treats with each step.
Have Some Styptic Powder to Hand
Despite your best efforts, there’s still a chance you might trim your pet’s nails a little too short, cutting below the quick. You’ll know this has happened when your dog yelps and the nail starts bleeding. Don’t worry too much – it happens to all dog owners at some point. The pain will subside quickly and won’t cause any lasting problems for your pet. Plus, the bleeding is easily remedied. Just cover the bleed with a pinch of styptic powder and apply moderate pressure until the bleeding stops. (Haven’t got any styptic powder? Cornflour will work as well.)
Hold the Paw Firmly When Cutting Your Dog’s Nails
It’s time to trim. Get comfortable with your pet, pick up a paw with your non-dominant hand and gently but firmly hold it. You want to prevent your dog from moving its paw while you work on the nails, as this can cause unwanted injuries. Place your forefinger on the pad of a toe and your thumb on top. Make sure your dog’s fur is well out of the way. Push the toe up a little to separate it from the rest and to bring the nail forward. Don’t start trimming if your dog won’t stay still – it’s better to delay the grooming session than run the risk of hurting your pet.
Hold the Tool at a 45-Degree Angle
By holding the pet nail file at a 45-degree angle, it’s perfectly positioned to follow the nail’s natural shape and curve. This way, you’ll have full control over the process. You can trim off as much or as little as is needed without running the risk of hurting your dog. The nail guard will trap any flyaway nail dust, while keeping fur and hairs away from any rotating parts. There’s no need to put any extra pressure on the paw, making your dog’s nail care easy and stress-free for both you and your precious pet.
Replace the Sanding Disc Regularly
Smooth, naturally rounded nails are key to your pet’s paw health. To achieve smooth results when trimming your dog’s nails with the Dremel tool, make sure you replace the sanding disc regularly. Once the abrasive grains on the sanding accessory have worn down, it won’t cause enough friction to grind down the nail. So keep an eye on the state of your disc. Once it’s all gone smooth and there’s no abrasive material left, it’s time to swap it for a new one.
Cut Your Dog’s Nails Gradually
Grinding creates friction and friction creates heat. Therefore, using your electric pet nail grinder in one particular spot for a prolonged period of time may cause a burning sensation in your pet’s paw. To prevent this, limit the grinding action to a few seconds at a time, with short breaks in between. Continuously moving the tool along the nail helps as well. Going slowly means you can closely observe your progress, too. Consider keeping the nail grooming sessions short and sweet – a touch-up once a week often works better than a long sitting every fortnight. Your dog will be happier for it.
Know How Short to Cut Your Dog’s Nails
Knowing when to stop trimming can be hard. If you go too short, you’ll end up cutting below the quick (tip 2) and hurting your pet. As a general rule, it’s enough to grind away the pointed tip until the nail looks relatively straight. Knowing how far you can cut a dog’s black nails can be an extra challenge: the dark colour makes it hard to detect the pink quick. Instead, look at the underside of the nail. Find the point near the tip where the nail separates out into a triangle with two outer ‘walls’. You can safely trim up to there. Tip: you can stop once the nails no longer touch the ground.