Cutting dog nails

March 6th, 2008
Poodle gets a pet-i-cure

Overly long nails can cause several health problems, not to mention drive you up the wall with the continuous clicking and clacking on your kitchen tiles. Not only can failing to trim your dogs nails result in painful ingrowns, turning walking into an agonising experience, but it also makes it difficult for your dog to place its full body weight on its feet, which can develop into sore feet, legs and hips, and overall discomfort.

To get the best tips and advice on maintaining healthy feet, Dogs Life catches up with internationally certified master groomer Jodie Graham, who has been in the grooming business for more than 17 years and knows all about grooming to breed standard. If you don’t check your dogs nails regularly, they can grow too long and make it difficult for your dog to walk. You can trim your dogs nails every week, Graham says.

How to cut dog nails

Before you cut your dogs nails, understand that some dogs are more accepting of it than others. Some dogs may yelp sometimes even before you start to cut the nail and others don’t show any signs of pain. Every dog is different. Some are a little more sensitive than others, Graham says. Cutting the nails does not hurt your pet. However, if your dog has had a bad experience, he may remember it.

Jodie gives Dogs Life readers step-by-step instructions on how to cut dog nails.

PET-I-CURE TIP 1: Big dog, tough nails

If you have a big dog, try softening the nails by wetting them down with water to make them easier to cut.

PET-I-CURE TIP 2: Stop the bleeding

If you cut too short and cause bleeding, use a bar of soap to help stop the flow. Alternatively, styptic powder, which has a coagulant that stops nails bleeding, is available at most pet shops. Apply moderate pressure over the tip of the nail with your finger for a few minutes. Dont panic your dog will not bleed to death! If you have any concerns, contact your vet.

PET-I-CURE TIP 3: Calming the nerves

If your dog is a little nervous (or if you are nervous), make an appointment for your pet groomer or vet to trim the nails to get your dog used to it. Ask if you can watch the process, so you are more confident to try it yourself next time.

PET-I-CURE TIP 4: Fear biting

Try to get your dog used to having his/her feet handled from a puppy. Most little dogs hate having their front feet touched, so the more you touch them the more they get used to the feeling and know it doesn’t hurt. If your dog is a biter, invest in a good-quality muzzle and have someone else help you hold your dog. If all else fails, try more walking on the footpath to help file down those nails down!

Nail-cutting no-noes

  • Do not cut too much off the nail. Just tip the ends a little at a time.
  • Don’t hold your dogs leg out sideways. Simply hold it in front or behind in line with the leg. Dont twist the foot;hold it gently, but firmly.
  • Never lift the leg higher than the hip. For little dogs, try using a non-slip rubber mat on top of the washing machine so your dog is at eye-level,rather than bending down on the ground.
  • Don’t use human nail clippers because they can splinter the nail. Make sure you use professional dog-nail trimmers.
  • The right way to cut the nail is to hold it at the nail bed(pointer finger on top and thumb underneath) and make one quick cut.
  • Do not have someone feed your dog treats while you are trying to cut the nails. If your dog is being difficult, it will only reinforce negative behaviour. Use a calm voice to soothe the dog and then offer treats once you have finished.

If you have any concerns about cutting your dog’s nails, consult with your local vet or dog groomer.

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