Trimming your dogs claws - a step by step guide
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Trimming your dogs claws - a step by step guide

Dogs nails naturally wear down under most circumstances such as daily walks on tarmac roads or hard surfaces. If this is not the case and your dog mainly gets walked on softer surfaces such as sand or grass, then they will need a hand from you to keep their nails in check. You will know when the nails are excessively long as you may hear them 'click' on hard surfaces.

Many dogs do not like having their feet touched or handled (yes dogs can have ticklish feet!). While clipping toenails may not be either yours or their favorite activity, it has to be done! Getting your dog used to having their feet touched and handled from as early age as possible is the key to successfully undertaking this endeavor, but there are some dogs that dislike or fear it so much that they even need to be anesthetised to have it done. If you are starting from scratch though, try giving your dog their favorite treat after the trimming or foot handling session, along with lots of praise after it.

Before attempting a trim yourself, ask your vet or a professional groomer to show you how to trim your dogs nails as so to be able to do it quickly, correctly and with no injury to the nail. Of course, the right equipment is needed and specialist dog nail trimmers can be purchased in most pet shops. It may be a good idea to have a styptic powder pot or stick to hand, (see use in step by step guide below).

A dog's toenail is made up of the nail itself and the 'quick'. This is the pink part of your dog's toenails that provides the blood supply to the nail. In dogs with dark nails, this is not always clearly visible. The trick is to avoid cutting into the quick because it can bleed a lot and is also very sensitive and in many cases painful when it is cut.

If you can't do all your dog's nails at once, never fear — you can clip them one paw at a time, with other activities or a resting period in between. Try our handy hints to help you undertake this yourself.

  • Hold the foot steady, but hold it gently. You may also need to kneel with the dog between your legs or ask someone to hold him. Whatever you choose, make sure it is the position your dog is used to and feels comfortable in.
  • Snip off a small bit of the end of each toenail. Do this millimetre by millimetre if necessary to avoid cutting down to the quick, especially in dogs with dark toenails. If the nail feels spongy while you're trying to cut it, stop immediately — you may be cutting the quick!
  • If your dog has dewclaws, remember that they will also need cutting. They can grow quickly and to long lengths as they do not touch the ground at any point, so will need keeping in check.
  • If you do cut the quick, you will know about it and the dog probably will yelp! Do not panic and try to stop any bleeding immediately. If you cut the quick you'll have an unhappy dog and a bloody mess to clean up! The quick will bleed quite a lot so if you cut it, you will need to apply styptic powder with a cotton swab or bud from a pot, or from a stick. This can be bought at pet shops and suppliers. Have a damp, clean and lint free cloth to hand ready to clean up styptic powder and blood as necessary.
  • Seek veterinary advice if the bleeding does not stop or the nail/quick becomes infected in any way.

Remember that if you do cut the quick, your dog will probably remember it for quite a while afterwards and may not want to let you cut his nails again! So, while this can be done at home by yourself, if all else fails and either you or your dog becomes to stressed while attempting this, ask your vet or dog groomer to it for you instead! They will have had many years of practice and will be able to do it for you quickly and easily.

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