Dogs require regular nail care, and taking a dog to the veterinarian’s office or a grooming center is not only inconvenient but it’s also expensive and time-consuming. You don’t have to pay to have someone else trim your dog’s nails. All you need are good pair of nail clippers designed especially for dogs, a sturdy nail file, adequate lighting, and styptic powder in case a nail is trimmed too short.
Handling Your Dog’s Feet
Many dogs have sensitive feet, and many don’t like their feet touched or their nails clipped. Before attempting to clip your dog’s nails, get your dog used to having his feet handled and massaged. Sit on the floor with your dog, and gently massage each foot while talking to him in a soft pleasant voice. Have a couple of treats on hand to give him after each session, and once he’s used to having his feet handled you can begin clipping his nails.
Choosing Nail Clippers
Invest in quality nail clippers designed especially for dogs, and make sure they are large enough to accommodate the circumference of his nails. A good pair of nail clippers has a circular end with a center guide that is equipped with a sharp guillotine-type blade. The handle fits in the palm of the hand, and with one simple squeeze, it clips away the nail swiftly and easily. A good set of nail clippers will last for many years, and they’ll pay for themselves the first few times they’re used.
Clipping the Nails
The center of the nail contains a vein that if clipped will cause a considerable amount of pain and bleeding. Once you’ve clipped a dog’s nails too short, he won’t be so willing to allow you to handle his feet or trim his nails in the future. To reduce the chance of cutting into the quick, take your time, and make sure there is plenty of light so you can clearly see what you’re doing.
It’s usually very easy to see the vein within a light-colored nail, but darker nails are a little more challenging to trim. If you can see the vein within the nail, trim it a couple of millimeters above the vein at a 45-degree angle. If the nail is dark, clip off the tip of the nail, and remove narrow slivers until it’s adequately trimmed. When you notice a dark dot in the center of the nail, don’t cut any further. This is where the quick begins, and trimming the nail any further would be risky.
Nails sometimes become dry and brittle, and dry nails splinter easily when trimmed. If a nail splinters while trimming, it’s easy to correct the problem. Simply use a file to sand the nail to the proper length, and smooth away any rough edges.
Caring for a Nail Clipped Too Short
No matter how careful you are when trimming your dog’s nails, it’s easy to make a mistake and cut into the quick. If you happen to cut or nick the vein, don’t panic. Keep a jar of styptic powder ready to help stop the bleeding, and in a matter of days, you’ll find the wound has completely healed.
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