Dog Care: Safest, Most Comfortable Way to Cut Nails

Overgrown nails are uncomfortable, dirty, and can become infected or ingrown. They can even make it difficult for your pet to run.
Dog Care: Safest, Most Comfortable Way to Cut Nails

Last update: 24 March, 2018

Every self-respecting animal requires periodic maintenance that goes hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle. In the same way that neglected fur can lead to skin diseases and the appearance of parasites, overgrown or badly cut nails can affect the wellbeing of our pets.

Tools and Preparation

To be able to cut our pet’s nails comfortably you will need the following items:

  • Special nail clippers for dogs. There are several types in the market: pliers-style, guillotine-style, and scissors.
  • Small prizes that encourage your pet. It will be much easier for our dog to cooperate with the process if you associate the activity with something nice.
  • If the nails are too short, there may be bleeding. We recommend having some type of antiseptic or astringent solution on hand to stop the bleeding.

The different styles of clippers are adapted to the size of the dog. For example, those that resemble the ones we can find at home are aimed at small-sized canines. The plier-style clippers, on the other hand, are best for larger breeds.

Familiarize your dog with the clippers

This tool’s intimidating look can scare your dog the first few times. We recommended you let the dog see the clippers first. You can get him acquainted with them by holding them near his paws or touching his nails with them to see how he reacts before cutting them. Try to close and open the clippers to make a clicking noise to prevent him from being frightened the next time you use them.

The key to this process is to encourage the canine with caresses and rewards until he realizes that there is nothing to fear. Each pet is different, so the duration of the process of adaptation to the clippers can vary. Once he is used to them, it is time to begin.

We highly recommend consulting a vet to see if the style of clippers you are using is suitable, or to help you polish your cutting technique. Although nail trimming isn’t the hardest task in the world, you don’t want to harm your pet.

How to cut

The first step when cutting your dog’s nails is to know how to locate the living part of the nail. If it is white, the living part will be pink. If it’s black, look for the gray part. Be careful not to cut past this part, or the nail will bleed.

You should not cut less than two millimeters from this area. If blood appears, calm the animal and use the astringent powders you have on hand.

If we consider this indication, the process is quite similar to the one we carry out at home with our own fingernails. The determinant factor, in this case, is the dog’s reaction. If we see that he is restless or that we run the risk of being bitten, we recommend going to a dog groomer.

The importance of well-manicured nails

Overgrown nails are uncomfortable, dirty and can cause various problems, to both animals and people. Proper maintenance is essential to ensure your pet’s hygiene. Among the most common problems related to un-manicured fingernails we find:

  • Risk of infection. After a busy day of activity, whether it involves taking walks in the countryside or in the city, it is normal for germs to accumulate under nails. Dogs, like any animal, tend to scratch themselves constantly. A wound caused by dirty, long fingernails is dangerous for both our canine and others.
  • Risk of ingrown nails. The wounds caused by ingrown nails are painful and, taking into account the continuous contact of the canine legs with the soil, are also prone to infection.
  • Difficulty when walking, running, and jumping. 

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.