Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is an important part of pet ownership. Nail trimming is also one of the most-hated chores. Aside from being worried about their dogs’ anxiety levels, owners become concerned over using clipping tools, especially the guillotine type. With this guide, I will teach you how to use dog nail clippers with confidence.
Types of Dog Nail Clippers
There are multiple types of dog nail trimmers on the market. The type you use will depend on your comfort level and the size of your dog. Guillotine dog nail clippers are ideal for smaller dogs with thinner nails.
This type of nail clipper has a circular opening where you place the end of your dog’s nail. A blade comes down and slices the end of the nail off, leaving a clean cut.
There are also scissor-type nail cutters. This type of nail cutter is better suited to larger dogs with thicker nails. Because they feature a squeezable handle, scissor-type nail cutters allow for greater force to be applied to the nail.
Then of course there are the best dog nail grinders that many pet parents prefer using as they are safer and easier to use.
Necessary Supplies for Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
Before you learn about how to use nail clippers on your dog, you need to gather all the necessary supplies. I will list these supplies below so you will be prepared.
Guillotine Nail Cutters
Please remember: dogs with thicker nails are going to require scissor-type dog nail clippers or a dog nail grinder.
Make sure you are choosing the very best quality. The blade needs to be sharp enough to cut through your dog’s nails. Choose a cutter that has an ergonomic grip and slip-proof handles. With the best dog nail cutter, you will be able to safely cut your dog’s nails with ease.
I highly recommend you have your dog’s favorite treats on hand, especially if he tends to get nervous when having his nails trimmed. Giving him treats will help to make the experience pleasant for him. He will equate dog nail trimming with yummy treats instead of stress .
Nail File or Grinder
Because guillotine nail cutters produce sharp cuts, the sharp edges of your dog’s nails could get caught in carpeting or rugs. You will need a nail file or grinder to create smooth edges on your dog’s nails and make them rounded.
Unfortunately, accidents can happen. Even if you are extremely careful, it’s possible to nick one of your dog’s nails and cause bleeding when you hit the quick. Styptic powder stops bleeding almost immediately and is helpful to have on hand.
Prepare Your Dog
Before you jump in and get started, you must prepare your dog. To a dog, nail clippers look scary. Your dog cannot communicate with you regarding his fears other than to bark, growl, cry, or try to hide. You want to help him avoid negative reactions to the nail clippers.
If you’ve never trimmed your dog’s nails before, you should first start by sitting down by your furry friend at his level. Pet him, and begin touching his paws. Make sure to give him plenty of treats to make him feel safe and happy.
Next, show your dog the nail clippers and let him sniff them. Open and close the clippers without cutting any nails. Make sure to reinforce good behavior with treats so your dog enjoys the experience and is not afraid.
If your dog is the nervous type, this process will take time. Give your dog a couple of weeks of getting used to the nail clippers and how they sound before you ever attempt to cut his nails. Once he no longer seems afraid, you can start cutting your dog’s nails.
Trim Your Dog’s Nails
When first starting to cut your dog’s nails, you need to be aware of how far down you can cut without cutting into the quick. On dogs with clear nails, this is simple. You can see the quick is the pink part of the nail.
If your dog has black nails, I highly recommend making a visit to your vet for direction. Your vet will tell you where to stop cutting so you do not cause pain for your precious pooch.
You need to avoid the quick or you could cause bleeding and pain for your dog. To avoid the quick, cut a small amount of nail tissue at first. Once you cut your dog’s nails regularly, you will find the quick begins to shrink back, and the nails will be easier to cut.
Make sure to place the nail trimmer around your dog’s nail in the proper position. The solid plate should be facing your dog. Cut in one quick movement and move to the next nail. While you do not want to rush, working quickly is going to keep your dog much calmer.
Reward Your Dog With Treats and Praise
After a successful session of nail trimming, you will want to heap on the praises of your dog. Reward him for being such a good boy. Give him hugs and kisses, pet him, and give him plenty of treats. You want to ensure you leave a lasting positive impression on your dog regarding nail trimming.
Do Not Forget to File Your Dog’s Nails
As I mentioned, guillotine nail clippers create sharp edges. This is a step many dog owners forget about, but it is highly necessary.
A dog’s nails can tear easily, especially if there are ragged edges. A torn nail can be very painful and can even become infected. Make sure you carry out the smoothing step every time to seal your dog’s nails.
Tips for Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
Trimming a dog’s nails does not have to be overly scary if you know the right steps and follow these tips. I have put together these tips to help ensure you are prepared and confident while cutting your dog’s nails.
- Always inspect your dog’s feet before you start trimming his nails. Check for any signs of injuries. Check to ensure there are no cracks or broken nails.
- If the fur between your dog’s toes and paw pads is long, trim it first. Learn how to trim dog paw hair.
- Trim one nail at a time if your dog is nervous especially when you trim dog nails that are overgrown. Even if it takes you a few days to get them all cut, this is an effective way of trimming a nervous dog’s nails.
- Cut the tip of your dog’s nail at a slight angle.
What Happens If You Cut the Quick?
One of the most stressful situations that can occur when you are cutting your dog’s nails is cutting into the quick. The immediate spurts of blood and the distress of your dog’s pain can send you into a panic.
I want to prepare you beforehand in case you do cut the quick of your dog’s nails. If you know what to do, you won’t panic. Remaining calm will ensure you act quickly and effectively to stop dog nail bleeding and help Fido recover from the pain.
First of all, don’t feel bad! It can happen to anyone. Your dog is not going to be happy about the pain, but I promise he won’t die. I want you to know even professional groomers can cut the quick from time to time so do not panic.
If you just allow the bleeding to stop on its own, it will take four to six minutes. Applying pressure with clean gauze can help reduce this time.
If you have styptic powder available, you can stop the bleeding immediately. Simply sprinkle the powder on the bleeding area, and it will go to work on clotting the blood.
FAQ: How to Use Dog Nail Clippers
If you’ve never used a pair of dog nail clippers, you likely feel nervous. You may even have a lot of questions. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the subject of using dog nail clippers.
1. What is the proper way to hold dog nail clippers?
Make sure to hold the dog nail clippers with your dominant hand. Also, make sure you are holding your dog’s toe with a firm, yet gentle grip so it does not slip. Make sure the solid plate is facing your dog. Use a firm squeezing motion to create the cut.
2. How do you use nail clippers with dog nails?
Using nail clippers is not overly difficult, but you do need to know how to use them properly before proceeding. If you are using guillotine nail clippers, make sure you place the solid plate towards your dog. Position your dog’s nail into the opening, and use a swift motion to bring the blade down and cut the nail.
3. What angle do you cut dog’s nails?
You should cut your dog’s nails at a 45-degree angle to ensure he will be able to walk effectively without his nails getting in the way. You do not want to cut too much nail-off because your dog needs his nails for traction. Cut a small amount at a time for the best results.
Cut Your Dog’s Nails With Confidence
Now, you know about the proper tools and how to use them. Make sure to have your supplies on hand. Make sure your dog is calm. If he is a nervous type, begin to work with him for a couple of weeks to get him used to the nail clippers.
It takes time for both you and your dog to adjust to the steps involved in trimming his nails. Give yourself both times, and you will find it easier to make the cuts and successfully rid your dog of excess nail length.