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How to Trim Dog Nails: 5 Tips For Stress-Free Nail Trimming

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How to Trim Dog Nails: 5 Tips For Stress-Free Nail Trimming

Posted by AdKitan AdKitan on
Updated at: October 09, 2020

How to Trim Dog Nails | Innovet Pet Products

When you bring a dog home and welcome your new canine companion into your family, you will soon learn that there are many learning curves on the horizon. This is especially true if this is your first time owning a dog. 

As a dog owner, there are various things you'll have to learn how to do, and one of those things is learning how to trim dog nails. Let's talk about why you need to trim your dog's nails, and then we'll discuss the various tools you'll need when trimming dog nails!

Why Do You Need to Trim Your Dog's Nails? 

Sometimes, first-time dog owners don't realize that it's important to trim a dog's nails. But the truth of the matter is that it's absolutely essential to trim your pup's nails! Trimming dog nails fall into the category of grooming. 

While dogs do groom themselves in a plethora of ways, there are specific grooming tactics that dogs cannot do for themselves or on their own. One of these grooming behaviors that dogs need help with is the trimming of their nails, so it's up to pet owners or groomers to maintain the upkeep of dog nails.  

The Tools You'll Need to Trim Your Pup's Nails 

Just as there are nail clippers and nail files for us to use when cutting our own nails, dog nail clippers are a thing, too! There are specific tools intended to help you safely and effectively trim nails as well. Now, one option is to regularly take your dog to a groomer and have the professionals trim their nails. 

This is a wonderful solution to trimming dog nails, but not everyone wants to pay groomers to trim their dogs' nails. Whether it's for financial reasons or personal preference, you don't have to find a groomer near you and regularly take your dog to the groomer as long as you understand that you'll need to carve out time to groom your pet's nails yourself! 

1. Nail Clippers

If you plan to trim your pup's nails from home, there are a few different tools that you can use to cut your dog's nails safely. The primary tool that you'll need is, unsurprisingly, nail clippers! As you probably guess, nail clippers are an essential tool because they are used to perform the nails' actual cutting. 

When shopping for nail clippers that are safe to use with dog nails, you might notice that there are a few options for you to pick from! The three different styles of dog nail clippers are scissors, guillotine, and grinders. This doesn't mean that you'll be cutting the nails with ordinary scissors, actual grinders, or a miniature guillotine. Instead, they are just three styles of nail clippers. 

Let's take a look at the differences between these three styles of nail clippers! 

2. Scissor Nail Clippers

Before you buy a pair of dog nail trimmers, you should look into the differences between the different kinds of nail clippers. Starting with the scissor style of trimmers, these are named for the way they move, just like scissors. Best used for the nails of bigger dogs, the scissor trimmers allow pet owners to trim with more power. They are great for trimming thick, long nails of large dog breeds.

3. Grinder Nail Clippers

Grinder trimmers for dogs quite literally grind down the nail instead of directly clipping the nails. Sometimes, trimming might not be the best plan of action for your dog. Grinder nail trimming tools offer an alternative to trimmers that clip the nail. Also, grinder tools can be less jarring for your dog as well. 

How to Trim Dog Nails

Not all dogs take well to nail clippers, so grinder nail trimmers offer an alternative to clippers. If you think about it, having your nails clipped isn't a pleasant experience, even when it's tolerable. Since dogs don't have the cognitive capacity to understand that they need to have their nails clipped, it's essential to make it as comfortable as possible for them so that they feel safe with you. 

If you notice your dog tends to pull away from you when you're trying to trim their nails, grinder trimming tools might be more suitable for the situation. Using grinder trimmers do require more time because they aren't as quick and to-the-point as other nail trimming tools, so you will need to have a lot of trust with your dog so that they sit still for the duration of the grinding process. 

4. Guillotine Nail Clippers

Yet another style of dog nail trimmers are the guillotine style of clippers. They provide a straightforward way of clipping dog nails. Essentially, all you have to do is carefully place the nails into the space between the two blades of the guillotine-style trimmers. 

When you press down on the guillotine trimmers, they will trim the nail so that the part of the nail that you stuck through the hole is cut off. Guillotine trimmers are very gentle, even though the name sounds really intimidating. They allow you to see precisely where the blades will trim the nail, which makes trimming dog nails more precise and easier for you!

5. Clotting Powder for Minor Mistakes

The second most important tool you'll need when clipping your dog's nails is clotting powder. Also known as styptic powder, clotting powder is for the purpose of fixing any blunders you make when cutting your dog's nails. Hopefully, you won't ever need styptic powder, but it's an excellent back-up plan if you accidentally trim the nail too short or clip some of your dog's fur in the process. 

Styptic powder essentially stops your dog's injury from bleeding furthermore. As the name implies, it helps the blood clot and reduces the amount of blood your dog loses from the injury. If you've cut the nail so low that the nail falls off or turns into a situation where you cannot stop the bleeding, make sure you reach out to medical professionals. 

It may turn into a serious matter where you'll need to take your dog to an emergency hospital or to the vet if they are open. Use your discretion at the moment. After all, no matter what, you should always want to make the best decision for your dog's overall safety and well being. 

The goal is never to need the styptic powder in the first place. Keep a close eye on the nail as you trim it and stay focused the entire time. Try to minimize your distractions so that your eyes never drift away from your dog's nails. 

6. Dog Treats to Keep Your Pet Calm 

Now, some may argue that dog treats are not a necessity for cutting your dog's nails… But we beg to differ! Since nail trimming isn't something dogs do for themselves, they might be quite confused when you go to cut their long nails. It's an especially confusing moment for puppies that have never had their nails trimmed before. 

Over time, your dog will definitely get used to the nail trimming process, and they will learn to get more comfortable the more often they experience it. But in the beginning, your dog will need some comfort and coaxing to stay calm while you cut their dog nails. 

When you incorporate dog treats into the situation, you can positively reinforce your dog's calm and obedient behavior as you trim their nails. Whether you choose to give your dog treats during the process periodically, or you prefer to reward them with treats after the job is done, the decision is entirely up to you. 

But dog treats will help everything go very smoothly, and your dog will learn to trust that there's a yummy outcome if they stay still. What dog doesn't love an extra treat here and there? You never know, our dog might come to love days where their nails are trimmed, all because of the dog treats that follow!

Best Practices for Dog Nail Trimming 

The best first step to trimming dog nails is remembering to gather everything you'll need. Make sure you collect the trimmers, styptic powder, and dog treats before you get your dog into a position to have his or her nails trimmed. Not only should you get all your tools ready, but it's also essential that you know how to use them! 

This is even more important to remember and keep in mind if you've never cut a dog nail before. Practice makes perfect, but this doesn't mean you should just go for it and cut your dog's nails without first reading the instructions for how to use your dog nail clippers. Get acquainted with the directions before you dive in and do some dog nail trimming. 

Something you will come to realize is that the blades are different from one type of nail trimmer to the next. Remember how we mentioned guillotine, scissors, and grinders as three different kinds of dog nail trimming tools? Each of these three styles of nail clippers moves differently because the blade is positioned in its way. 

Once you familiarize yourself with the blade of your trimmers and the dog nail trimming tools, you can then allow your dog to sniff the trimming tool. It's essential that your dog is comfortable and knows what's going on before they will stay still. As much as your dog trusts you and knows you wouldn't do anything to hurt them deliberately, it's always good to let them get used to the scent of the nail trimmers. 

A dog's paw is a very sensitive part of their body, so they might need some extra time to get used to having an unfamiliar tool by their feet. Instead of introducing something new and using it right away, you might even want to let your dog get comfortable with the nail trimming tool ahead of time. 

One way of doing this is to take the trimming tool out of the packaging and leave it in a place that your dog can't reach. That way, it will start to smell less unfamiliar and more like your living environment, which will make it easier for your dog to trust the trimming tool.  

Helpful Tips for Stress-Free Dog Nail Trimming 

How to Trim Dog Nails | Innovet Pet ProductsSince you're here reading all about nail trimming for dogs, it's a great sign that you care enough to do research and gain insight into the nail trimming process! To help you out, even more, we thought we'd explain what you should do if you notice that your dog has some dark nails. Something important to remember is that dog nails are not the same as ours. While you have experience trimming your nails, it's not going to feel the same when you cut your dog's nails. 

Have you ever dropped something heavy on your toes and later on noticed that they have bruised? These bruises happen when the blood vessels near and underneath your toenails are broken and end up popping open. This causes blood to spill out of the blood vessels and spread into the surrounding tissue, causing the black coloring to be associated with bruising.
The blackening of the nails creates dark nails, which require a different way of trimming than the usual white nails you're used to seeing. Instead of clipping them quickly or grinding them at a fast pace, you need to make sure you take it slow and steady. 
Make sure you have a tight but comfortable grip on your dog's paw to control the situation. Here comes the main difference between trimming dark nails and cutting healthy nails. The angle you take when trimming dark nails isn't the same as you would regularly approach the nails with the dog trimmers. 

Instead of trimming horizontally from one side of the nail to the other, you'll need to cut the nail vertically, from top to bottom. Take it very easy and only cut a small part of the nail at a time. Cutting dark nails involves a series of very small and short cuts, rather than trimming directly across in one fell swoop.