Trimming dog toenails is a routine part of grooming that can promote health and comfort. The task, while on the surface seems relatively simple, sometimes can be a cause for anxiety. That’s because if you cut too low, the blood vessel that runs through the dog’s nail can be nicked and cause bleeding.
Avoiding the task only compounds the problem. The longer nails are allowed to grow, the longer that blood vessel, or quick, as it is known, can extend. Dogs that do not walk far outdoors, especially not on abrasive surfaces, may not benefit from natural wearing down of their nails and will require clipping more frequently. Also, certain breeds are prone to having longer nails.
Long nails can be painful for dogs. The experts in holistic care at Dogs Naturally Magazine say that long nails that will come in contact with hard ground can push back up into the nail bed and cause discomfort. Long nails also may cause the toes to twist. Most dogs require their nails be trimmed every two weeks. This time period may be extended if the dog goes for long walks frequently.
Start by making the process relaxing for the dog. He or she can sense your anxiety, so do nail trimming when you aren’t rushed and can devote time to the process. Reward good behavior with treats so the dog will begin to associate nail trimming with a positive experience.
Trim any fur away from the toes to make it easier to see the nails.
Start slowly and trim the nail in small increments. Work in three parts: the top right, top left and top center. Do not merely cut a chunk off of the nail all at once. Working slowly helps you avoid pain for the dog and keeps you away from the quick.
If the edge of the nail you clipped looks dry and flaky, it’s likely safe you can trim off a little more. If you start to see a dark, horseshoe shape at the edge of the nail, the quick is nearby. It helps to keep styptic powder handy just in case. This will help stop the bleeding if the quick does get nicked.
Although everyone has their own techniques, having the dog in a lying down position may be easiest. This way you can comfortably reach the nails and not have to bend his feet in different positions to access the nails, which can be uncomfortable and cause your pet anxiety. Tackle nail trimming in a well-lit area as well. This will make it easier to see what you are doing.
Taking time and reassuring your pet can make nail trimming a more pleasant experience for all involved.