How do you know when your dog’s nails need cutting? Many times, we don’t realise Ralphs nails need cutting until we see him constantly biting them. Also, when walking on the carpet upstairs we can hear his nails pulling at the thread. This sometimes causes his nails to get stuck and pull which is not great when he’s running around. You may also notice a clicking noise when your dog walks on tiles or concrete. Whatever the reason, there are several options. The most obvious is go to a dog groomer but you may also want to learn how to trim dog nails that are overgrown at home. And how to do it safely of course.
All dog groomers will give your dogs nails a trim as part of the grooming session. Some allow you to just walk in and they will do it there and then. If you are looking to save a few quid or your better groomers is too far too travel, then time to find out how to do it yourself.
The first time we tried to groom Ralphs nails it was extremely difficult. He didn’t want us to touch his feet. Wouldn’t let us near with the clippers. Scratch and clawed at us. It was so stressful for him and us, we gave up and took him to a groomer. The second time we tried we decided to try and distract him with treats. FAILED. He was not interested. Back to the groomers we went. Finally, we gave it one last shot. We used a Kong filled with peanut butter. My girlfriend held the kong so it didn’t roll away and I clipped his nails. VOILA! Nicely cut nails. No stress, no barking, no scratching and above all else, no sticking to the carpet.
If your dog suffers from anxiety, then you might want to use clippers rather than a nail grinder as this could scare your dog more than they are already. The main point of this article is the safety aspect of trimming your dogs’ nails at home. Overall, we want you to feel confident when wondering how to trim your dogs’ nails that are overgrown and how to do it safely.
How to Safely Cut Your Dog’s Nails at Home
1 Using the Right Equipment to Cut the Nails
Choosing the best dog nail clipping equipment is down to your overall budget and how your dog behaves. Choosing a noisy nail grinder is not the best if your dog hates loud noises. Also, choosing a really cheap pair of clippers may mean they don’t last too long. You don’t want to get half way through, and they break.
Making sure you have the right equipment will ensure you are able to cut your dogs nails safely at home. This includes;
- Clippers – Dog Nail Clippers are exactly that, designed for dogs. Human nail clippers will not work on your dog, don’t try it. Available in bright colours, sizes, and very different price range, we have reviewed the best ones here.
- Grinders – Dog Nail Grinders are louder than clippers so may not be suitable for anxious dogs. If your dog doesn’t mind the grinder then they can help shape your dog’s nails. Also, they are great to use after clippers so you can remove and sharp edges.
- Styptic Powder – It is natural if your dogs claw bleeds a little when cutting. This can be caused by cutting slightly to short, so you have caught the nerve OR it is just a bit sensitive and lets out a little blood. Styptic Powder will need to be put on the wounded area quickly and it will stop the bleeding.
It is natural to be nervous and a little scared about cutting your dogs nails for the first time. Check out this video
2 Paws Anatomy
Understanding dogs’ paws can help you with cutting nails. Unlike humans, dogs have a nerve in the nail which if cut can cause serious discomfort and pain to your dog. Also, a dog pulling its nail can cause to dislocation in the claw. Learn how to trim your dogs nails that are overgrown safely can really help prevent any unnecessary injuries.
Lets take a quick look at a dogs paw; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paw
Here are three things to look out for
- Dew Claws – These don’t even touch the floor and many dogs with these types of claw will have them removed.
- Quick – Dogs that bit their nails, sometimes till it bleeds. Nails should be cut carefully to avoid hitting the quick as this is what will make the claw bleed.
- Nail – The end bit after the quick. This is what needs trimming and cutting off to prevent pain and discomfort to your dog.
- Pads – 5 pads, 1 for each claw and a bigger pad protecting the toe joints. Generally, a dark colour they should be easy to see and find.
3 When Should You Start Nail Clipping
Grooming your dog yourself is also a form of dog training. Starting clipping your dogs nails from a young age will help as they get older because they will have got used to it.
As they grow older and stronger, it can be extremely difficult if they are not used to it. Training your dog early on will really help for the future. Set their expectations. Treat them regularly throughout. And above all else, try and keep your own stress levels down.
Teaching your kids to have their nails cut is exactly the same as a dog training. They eventually will accept that this is a part of its life and it is a requirement. If they know they will be treated along the way then why wouldn’t they behave.
All forms of grooming require the same care and attention. This will ensure the safety aspect is met because grooming a dog that doesn’t want to be there is just too difficult and un safe.
4 Grooming Tables VS Raised Surface Area
Starting on the floor is usually the first place people attempt cutting their dogs nails. This is usually why most people quit after the first attempt. Instead, portable dog grooming tables are a good price to ensure you have your dog at a good height. If you don’t have the money to purchase your own grooming table then a raised surface such as dining table or a chair can help.
Many professional groomers will stand behind your dog to cut the nails – this is the most effective as you can reach all 4 paws. You could also try lying them on their sides, assuming they lay still long enough.
By using a grooming table or raised surface, you are at a great height and much more comfortable. You will need to test different ways for your dog to be to find what is comfortable for them. Ralph will stand up and have his nails clipped but larger dogs prefer to lie down.
5 Walking on a Hard Surface
Regular walking is a great way of keeping the grooming expenses down. Concrete and hard grounds will help remove some of the dead nails. Removing all of it will require some for of trimming or grinding but a good long walk will really help reduce the number of visits. Plus keeping the cost down as it can soon become expensive.
Walking is great for both of you so make sure to get on regular walks for both your benefits. Where you may need to go every 6 weeks for a trim, with regular walking this time can be up to 13-16 weeks.
6 Free to Watch and Learn with your Vet
Vets and Groomers are always very friendly and professional. Just simply ask if its ok to watch while you do it. Even ask them to talk you through the process.
Ralphs groomer has really helped us establish a great routine and ensured that Ralph is very calm. By watching and learning from a professional, we quickly gained our own confidence in trimming Ralphs nails. We also ensured that we increased the number of walks he goes on so he doesn’t feel like we are doing it too often.
Don’t take offence if they refuse to let you watch as this is their lively hood and you are a customer. IF every customer wanted to learn for themselves, they would go out of business.