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One of the essential parts of grooming your dog and keeping up with their hygiene is trimming their nails. For some dogs and their owners, this process can be a bit tricky and even anxiety-inducing, especially if your dog doesn’t love people playing with their paws. It is however important to be regularly maintaining their nails to ensure they don’t end up in pain or with other serious issues. While some owners may prefer to take their dog to a professional groomer, if you want to be able to trim your dog’s nails at home, getting your dog comfortable with the process and following the right steps are key to making it quick, easy and pain free for you and your pooch.
Why You Need To Trim Your Dog’s Nails
More then just for looks, ensuring your dog’s nails are regular maintained is also important to ensure they aren’t in pain or end up doing damage to themselves.
When a dog’s nails are left untrimmed for an extended period of time it can begin to cause pain in their feet. When walking on hard surfaces with long nails, the nail will be pushed back into their nail bed. This can cause continual pressure on their toe joints making them sore or even cause their toes to twist to the side to try and compensate for the nail. When they become sore, trimming their nails will also become a harder process as they will fuss more when you touch their paws.
Having long nails for an extended period of time can also cause their foot can become splayed. This can cause them to lose traction in their feet and result in foot deformities and injured tendons.
Unmaintained nails can also affect their posture. Long before they became house pets, wild dogs naturally filed their nails from constantly running and hunting, and the only time their nails would touch the ground was when they were going uphill. This means your dog’s brain is programmed to associate their nails touching the ground with being on a hill and they will shift their posture accordingly. The resulting posture is often called “goat on a rock” as their paws end up closer together and more under their body than normal. Over time, this posture makes it difficult for them climb stairs, jump and even lay down.
The more often you trim their nails, the easier the maintenance will become. All dog’s nails have a quick, often identifiable by finding the pink section of their nail, which ensure proper blood flow to the area. When trimmed often, the quick will naturally shorten over time which makes them easier to avoid when cutting and also benefits your dog’s well being.
When To Trim Your Dog’s Nails
When it comes to how often to trim your dog’s nails, while a good rule of thumb is to maintain them every two weeks, there can be a variety of factors that may mean you need to trim your dog’s nails more often or less frequently. If you notice that when you dog is standing, you can see their nails touching the ground, that’s a good indicator that they’re in need of some maintenance.
If your dog is regularly walking or running on harder surfaces, their nails will naturally file themselves and therefore they may not need to be trimmed as often as dogs who walk more on soft surfaces (such as inside dogs).
The breed of your dog may also have an affect on how often their nails need to be trimmed. Some breeds have nails that tend to grow more forward than downward and due to this, simply being on hard surfaces regularly may not wear down the nail. Working dog breeds are generally more active but also tend to have more arched toes and compact feet that causes the nail to be positioned more downwards to the ground and therefore actually wear down more than other breeds.
How To Properly Trim Your Dog’s Nails
The best way to make the trimming process as easy as possible is to ensure you get your dog comfortable with the process and also follow the proper procedure to help make it quick and painless.
How To Get Your Dog Comfortable With Nail Trimming
One of the key steps to making trimming your dog’s nail an easy process for both of you is getting them comfortable with the process. While (on the rare occasion) some dogs will have no problems with it without prior preparation, most often the key is getting your dog use to it from a young age. All dog’s are different and some will become comfortable with it quicker than others. If it seems to be taking your dog a little longer to get use to you touching their paws and using a clipper, the key is to not become discouraged and keep at it.
- From the first day you have them, regularly and gently touch and hold your puppy’s paws so they get accustomed to people touching their feet.
- As they seem to get comfortable with you touching their paws but before you even have a nail trimming session, take out the clipper you plan to use, let your dog sniff it and gently touch their paws with it. Be sure to praise and reward them while you do this.
- Without actually trimming the nails, while the clipper is on their paws, switch it on so your dog can get use to the sound and vibration, praising them while doing so.
- After repeating this process a few times and when they seem comfortable with the clippers being near their feet, it’s time to try trimming a nail. Focusing on just one nail, try taking off just the very tip and give them treats and praise, especially if they seem to let you do it with minimal fuss. Keep at the one nail method daily until your dog seems completely comfortable and unbothered by the process.
- Once one nail a session seems ok, progress to trying two nails at a time and continue working up until you’re able to do all their nails with no fuss.
- During this process, if you have days where no nails need a trim, simply pretending to clip their nails and going through the process anyway will help with getting your dog more comfortable.
How To Trim Your Dog’s Nails
When your dog is ready for you give their nails a proper trim, following a proper procedure will help make the process quick, easy and pain free for you and your furry friend.
- Pick up their paw and place your thumb on the pad of the toe with the nail you’re wanting to clip. Place your forefinger on the top of that toe and make sure their fur is out of the way.
- Gently push your thumb backwards and your forefinger forward and this should cause the nail to extend out.
- Be sure to only clip the tip of the nail and do so straight across.
- Make sure you don’t clip past the curve of the nail. Trimming past that point can cause you to hit the quick (normally the pink area of their nail) which can be painful for your dog and cause them to bleed. If your dog has darker nails, look for a chalky white ring to help you avoid the area.
- Try to complete the process as quickly as possible. The less time they have to sit there and the less time you have to handle their feet, the better.
If you do happen to go to fair down the nail and trim their quick, don’t panic. Be sure to have something on hand, such as a towel, that you can use to help stop the bleeding. You can keep the towel there until the bleeding stops or even put a little bit of corn stretch on the area to help it slow sooner.