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Tips on How To Tackle Clipping Your Dog's Nails

written by Ellie Walker

Proper nail care isn’t simply a matter of aesthetics – your dog’s nails can contribute to their overall health. If left unclipped, they can become overgrown which not only makes walking uncomfortable but can also lead to long-term health issues.

If you don’t know how to clip dog nails at home, don’t worry! We’ve put together a list of tried and true tips that will show you how easy it is to tackle clipping your dog’s nails.

Get them comfortable having their paws handled

Having their nails trimmed can be a stressful experience for dogs, in part because they may not be used to having their paws handled. Especially if you have a new puppy, take the time to regularly handle their paws and nails. While you do this, you can also show them the clippers so that they can investigate and become familiar with the sight and smell of them. While puppies will likely become comfortable with this process more quickly, with patience older dogs can get used to it as well!

Take it slow

While puppies may be comfortable having their nails trimmed after a quick investigation of the clippers, older dogs may require things to go a bit more slowly. To ensure that they don’t develop a fear of having their nails clipped, it can be helpful to ease them into the process over the span of a week.

  • Day 1: Let your pup investigate the clippers, offering lots of their favorite Freshpet treats to create a positive association.

  • Days 2-3: Lightly touch the clippers to their nails to get them used to the feeling, but don’t attempt to do any clipping.

  • Days 4-5: Start to apply light pressure to their nails using the clippers, without actually trimming, so they can start to get used to the sensation.

  • Day 6: Trim one or two nails, giving plenty of Freshpet treats throughout the process.

  • Day 7+: If trimming the first few nails goes well, you can keep trimming a few nails each day until your pup builds up the tolerance to have them all done in one go.

If you feel like they need a bit more time, repeat the process for days 1 to 6 until they’re fully comfortable.

Use the right tools

When it comes to choosing tools to trim your pup’s nails, which tool is “right” really depends on your dog and their preference. There are three main types of clippers, each of which has their own benefits:

  • Guillotine-style dog nail clippers: These clippers are designed with a small hole which you guide your pup’s nail through then squeeze the handle to trim the excess nail. This style of dog nail clipper is best for small or medium-sized dogs, as it usually it’s not strong enough to trim very large nails.

  • Scissor-style dog nail clippers: These clippers look like a pair of scissors but with a small indent in the blade so you know where to place the nail. These are ideal for large breeds as they easily apply enough force to trim very thick nails.

  • Dog nail grinders: Nail grinders are similar to electric sanders in that they use a small rotating section of abrasive material to grind down your pup’s nail. These can be used on nails of any size and often come with a nail guard that stops the paw from getting too close to the spinning part of the tool.

Some pet parents choose to use just one of these options, while others like to combine multiple types for different steps in the nail trimming process – it all depends on how you want to clip your dog’s nails!

Know how much to trim

When it comes to clipping your dog’s nails, shorter isn’t always better. In the center of your dog’s nail is a fleshy area called the “quick”, which has nerves and a blood vessel running through it. If cut, it can be very painful and cause quite a bit of bleeding. The ideal point to cut is between 3 and 4 millimeters away from the quick – if you’re not sure where that is your veterinarian or groomer will be able to show you.

In the event that you do cut the quick, stay calm and grab your pet first aid kit. Using a non-adhesive bandage, apply pressure to the nail to stop the bleeding. If bleeding persists, call your veterinarian as you may need to take them into the clinic for assistance.

Distract them

Once you have the right tools and know-how to cut your dog’s nails, it’s time to put them to use! While some dogs will patiently sit on your lap or table while they have their nails trimmed, others need a bit of distraction. To make the nail cutting process a bit more smooth – and fun – for everyone, try making use of a silicone wall mat. You can apply a layer of your pup’s favorite Freshpet roll and let them lick it off while you get to clipping.

By following these tips, you can say goodbye to the noisy overgrown nails on your hard flooring and hello to happy, healthy paws!

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