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How To Clip a Dogs Nails? (And Why Is It Important!)

October 28, 2021

Most dogs hate having their nails clipped. Many dogs resent their feet being handled to start with, and when you add the possibility that past nail clips may have drawn blood, then you have a recipe for a wriggling, unhappy, uncooperative dog and a sweating frustrated owner!

How to sedate a dog to trim nails?

To increase your chance of a stress and blood free effort, start with the basics. Long before its nails actually need trimming, get your dog used to having its feet handled in a relaxed manner. In a puppy, this can be achieved easily by using a nail file to shorten the nails gently, while watching television or sitting quietly. In older dogs, you could use food rewards as a positive motivator. If he wriggles as you play with his paws, ignore the behaviour, but when he sits still, reward him with a tiny treat. He will gradually put two and two together. Next, make sure you have a strong, well-maintained, sharp pair of nail clippers specifically designed for dogs. Generally, you will find that the better the clipper, the higher the price, and you really do want a quality blade for a clean cut.

How to trim a dog's nails and avoid bleeding

To enhance your understanding of nail trimming techniques, you need to know the anatomy of the toenail. Within the centre of each toenail is the blood and nerve supply for the nail called the “quick”. In clear white toenails it is easy to see – just look for the pinkish area in the middle of the nail. You want to avoid cutting into the quick at all costs because it is rich with blood vessels and painful nerve endings.
Look at the toenail from the side. As it leaves the paw, the underside of the nail is flat. The length of nail that is flat varies from dog to dog. Follow the flat line visually. You may find that this line continues on straight, until it meets the curving “front” of the nail. If this is the case, no trimming is required. Alternatively, it may suddenly dip down in a curve, with a distinct “overhang”. In this case (and bear in mind that different nails on the same dog may have different wear-patterns, making some flatter than others), make your cut along the same line as the flat part of the nail, and no higher. The sharp hook, or point, is the only part of the nail that you trim.

Why should I cut my dog's nails?

There are many reasons why it is important to trim your dog’s nails regularly. Proper nail care will prevent potential health problems such as ingrown toenails and joint pain – not to mention the fact that it will also help to protect your furniture and belongings from unwanted scratches and damage.

Finally, if the thought of the whole process makes you hyperventilate and sweat, then the staff at our Mornington Veterinary Clinic will be happy to help you with advice. Or you may wish to book your dog in with us for an assessment of nail length and a nail clip if necessary. 

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