There is no strict rule when it is necessary to cut dogs’ nails. When you hear your dog’s nail click-clacking as he walks across the floor or hard surface, it’s usually a sure sign that your pet needs to cut nails.
As a rule, nails of large breeds of dogs should be trimmed less often, as naturally wear their nails down by walking and play, especially if the walk involves hard surfaces. Dogs of smaller breeds, which are mostly kept in the house or apartment, need more often cut their nails.
As for the cutting itself, we recommend that you do it gradually, that is, to start cutting smaller pieces rather than the whole nail at a time. This is especially important for dogs that have dark pigmented nails, so you do not see how far the nerves and blood vessels reach. For light nails, this part is seen as a light pink color. In any case, as you cut the nail, follow the color in the middle or the cross section. When you notice a darker area (spot) in the middle of the nail, stop there because it is the beginning of the blood vessel that you want to avoid.
The problem you will surely encounter is the dog’s reluctance to allow shorten nails. That is why it is important to calm the dog, relax it, and associate the claw-cutting ritual with pleasant associations such as food and treats to reward your best friend after an unpleasant session.
After correcting the length of the nail, it is recommended to gently file the nail, of course, if the dog has so much patience. After shortening, the nail is sometimes sharp, and it can be significantly mitigated by filing.
Useful tool for nail care
Use nail trimmers, not ordinary scissors. Some are better suited to small breeds; others are made with large breeds in mind. Guillotine trimmers (one blade) are better for small breeds because they are small and easy to use on tiny paws. The “guillotine” has a hole through which you push the nail and the blade which you then press. Dog nail clippers with two cutting edges are better suited for large breeds. They are larger than guillotine trimmers and are made more like hedge clippers, giving plenty of leverage for large, tough nails. However, in skilled hands either trimmer can be used on any size dog.
Puppy toenails are sometimes soft and extremely small, which makes trimming with regular-sized canine toenail trimmers difficult. The adult-sized trimmers can tear the nail instead of clipping it. Human fingernail trimmers are helpful, especially on small breeds. Ask your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate size and style for your puppy.
When you purchase nail trimmers, also buy styptic powder. Styptic powder is a coagulant that will stop the bleeding if you accidentally trim your pup’s nails too short and nick the quick, the vein inside the nail.
Cutting Puppy Nails
Make sure that you have control of the dog when shortening his nails so that he does not move and thus injure himself. First, process the hind paws. Lay the dog on a table or bed, turn to the opposite side of the dog, and press it gently with the body so that it does not move too much, but not too much to make him uncomfortable or painful.
Hold his paw firmly, but not too hard, with one hand and nail trimmer with the other. Raise your paw just as much as you need. Cut the nail one at a time, only the curved part, carefully, so as not to injure the nerve located in the middle of the nail and cause bleeding and pain.
When you move to the front paws, it is best to take a pose by looking at his inverted paw from above, much like when a horse is horseshoeing. You must do this gently and lightly.
When done, be sure to praise the dog and reward him with a treat and a walk.
Never try to cut off the entire excess of your nail at once, it will be painful for your pet. Be careful not to cut the delicate flesh under the nails. If you accidentally cut too deep and cause bleeding, you should apply pressure with a sterile compress to that location until the bleeding stops. If you do not use any preparation (some dogs find it more uncomfortable even than cutting their nails), the bleeding should stop after five minutes. No matter how careful you are, injuries often happen.
The general rule of thumb is to clip where the nail makes a defined curve down towards the floor. Don’t cut too far beyond that or you could snip the quick. Keep in mind that the longer you allow the nails to grow, the longer the quick may grow, as well.
In any case, if you have never done this before, it might be a good idea to get the help of a veterinarian at your infirmary who will show you how it is done properly and how to determine if the length of your nails is normal or too long (which hinders the dog’s normal running and they keep the paw in the wrong position and load the ligaments and muscles of the lower legs unevenly).
Training Your Dog to Accept Getting Their Nails Trimmed
For puppies who are quite young, it is easiest to do this when they are sleepy, and for puppies over one month old – the rule is “one nail, one cookie”.
At first, they will whine as dogs generally they do not like to be touched (especially paws).
Ideally (if you bought a dog) the breeder has already taught the puppy to touch. Such puppies will have no problem cleaning their ears or touching their paws.
It is also important that you, as his leader, practice touching paws, muzzle, teeth, ears, tail, and generally whole body from the first day of life together.
It is important not to cut off (almost) anything at first, just click with trimmers and touch pet finger to get the puppy accustomed to the sound and feeling associated with it.
If you have adopted an adult dog who is not used to such a procedure, it will be difficult to teach him to tolerate nail cut treatment without protest, but with a lot of patience and rewards it is possible – unless the dog is traumatized and hostile. If so, it’s better to leave it to the vet.
Why You Don’t Want to Let Your Dog’s Nails Get Too Long
Nail length affects the overall body posture. Long nails lower the metacarpal bones and phalanges, thus changing the angle at which the paw bones stand.
Changing the angle at which paw stands creates pressure on the joints and can be painful for the dog and even lead to premature arthritis.
It is not only a problem with the paw bones, but the wrong angle also reflects on the dog’s posture, that is, the spine. As you probably know, the body compensates for each injury by positioning it against the sore spot to protect it with its position. Therefore, a wrist injury can cause pain in the opposite hip.
You should always make sure that the thumbnail does not grow too long, as it can get stuck on a soft surface and even get out of the root, which can be very painful for the dog and even cause a limp – and is always a potential focal point of inflammation.
Also, improperly wrapping such an injury can cause an even bigger problem – so if your dog breaks his toenail longitudinally – consult a veterinarian.
Dogs tolerate pain quite well, especially chronic ones – so we can’t always rely on them to let us know when something is bothering them.