Nail trimming can be a sensitive issue, especially when dealing with a nervous dog. If your dog gets anxious by the plain sight of nail clippers, rewarding good behavior is important to show your dog that touching feet is not a threat. Nail trimming is a step by step process and it is okay if not all nails get done in one sitting.
Why do dogs need nail trimming?
Most of the time, dogs regularly walking on hard surfaces don’t need nail trimming as concrete keeps their nails short. However, dogs have a dewclaw, comparable to our thumb, that sits higher on the paw and does not get a lot of wear and tear. Because of that, this nail is often longer than the others and requires clipping to avoid snagging the nail on anything and potentially getting hurt.
How to trim nails?
Some dogs may have different colored nails. Dark nails can make nail trimming a daunting task as the centre of a dog’s nail contains a ‘quick’ with blood vessels and nerves and can be hard to see. It is important to not cut the quick as it will bleed, is painful to the dog, and is counterproductive when dealing with a nervous four legged friend. If too much of the quick is clipped, a styptic pen applied to the injured area works great to stop the bleeding. If in doubt, clipping the very tip of the top of the nail will be sufficient and won’t hurt your dog. Fortunately, light nails are much easier to clip, as the pink coloured quick inside the nail is visible.
Guillotine clippers with a sliding blade and a safety guard are the best nail clippers – make sure to choose an appropriate size for your dog! Once ready to clip the nails, align them carefully along the piece of nail you wish to remove and snip it off without damaging the quick.
If your dog is particularly nervous, consider having it done by the vet. Vets and vet nurses will be more than happy to show you how to properly handle your dog and cut their nails safely, so you can do it at home.