It’s official, America loves dogs. In 2017, Americans owned 89.7 million dogs.
And we’re willing to spend big bucks on our furry friends as well. In 2016, it was projected Americans would spend $62.75 billion on dogs alone.
It’s clear we still view dogs as “man’s best friend”. And part of caring for these animals is clipping their nails.
It’s not a task anyone relishes, but it’s also not as hard as people think it is. You just have to know what you’re doing.
That’s because overgrown nails can get infected or cause damage. If you’re wondering how to trim dog nails that are overgrown, keep reading.
We’re sharing with you three simple steps for how to cut dog nails that are too long.
How to Trim Dog Nails that Are Overgrown
Before you begin, it’s important to recognize when your dog’s nails need trimming. Here are a few signs:
- Nails click on the floor
- They cause discomfort
- They interrupt mobility
It’s important to cut their nails because longer nails tend to fracture more easily. Your dog is also more prone to infections or experience problems when walking.
However, before you get started trimming, you’ll need to know more about the quick so you don’t injure your dog.
How to Identify a Dog’s Quick
Dogs nails contain a soft cuticle known as the “quick.” The quick contains blood vessels and nerves that you do not want to cut because it will bleed, cause them pain, and possibly cause an infection.
Dog nails tend to be white, black, or a combination of the two. It’s easier to spot the quick on dogs with lighter nails.
For dogs with lighter nails, the quick is the pink part in the center of the nail.
For dogs with darker nails, it’s a bit more challenging. Start by looking at the bottom of the nail as you trim. You may see a small oval in the center of the nail bed. The oval grows larger the closer you get to the quick until it’s nearly as wide as the nail itself.
Immediately stop trimming if you get that far, or the nail will start bleeding.
How to Trim a Dog’s Nails
Trimming dogs nails isn’t that difficult, if you go slowly, have the correct tools, and remain confident. You can also bring your dog to the vet or a professional groomer to have them do it for you.
However, you should at least know how to do this yourself, just in case.
You can either use clippers or a grinder for clipping dogs nails. Both work equally well, it’s just a matter of preference.
Begin by holding the tool using your dominant hand. You’ll need to use your other hand to hold your dog’s paw. Place your thumb on the foot pad with your fingers circling around the top of the foot, near the nail bed.
If you’re using a clipper, start at the very tip of the nail. This is important, especially with darker nails.
Only trim between one and two mm at a time. Take your time and move toward the quick.
If you’re using the grinder method, touch the grinder to the tip of the dog’s nail as gently as you can. Hold for two counts.
Keep trimming slowly until you see a tan-colored oval. This shows that you’re nearing the quick. You can then use a nail file to smooth over rough edges.
It’s a good idea to praise your dog while you’re dog nail clipping. This reassures them and helps them feel calm.
Take your time. You don’t have to trim all nails at once. See how well your dog handles the trimming. If they look stressed, go slow.
When you’re finished, give your dog (and yourself!) a treat.
If you live in a city and your dog gets tons of outdoor exercise, you may not even need to worry about trimming their nails. Walking on hard, abrasive services such as concrete on the way to the dog park actually serves as a natural nail file.
If you live out in the country where your dog doesn’t have as much exposure to concrete, you can use this method, but be careful. Dogs unused to walking on concrete may develop blisters or abrasions and/or if their nails are too long, splitting and fracturing may occur.
If You Cut the Quick
Don’t get into a panic if you accidentally cut the quick. You’ll know you cut the quick because the nail will start bleeding.
However, it’s like accidentally cutting your own nails too far. It’s painful, but not life-threatening unless there’s another underlying bleeding disorder.
It’s a good idea to keep styptic powder around. It’s the same powder most vets use for clotting.
If that doesn’t stop the bleeding, contact your vet. Also, pay attention to your pet afterward. If they’re chewing on their foot, it’s due to discomfort.
You’ll need to find a way to prevent them from chewing on their foot.
How to Work with Fearful Dogs
It’s harder to trim their nails when they’re afraid of the clippers. If you notice your dog seems fearful, start by seeing if the dog has any injuries, bumps, or growths on or near the paw pads.
Some dogs lick their paws because of allergies. Those allergies may make your dog feel defensive towards having anyone handle their paws.
Clippers vs Grinders with Fearful Dogs
You can also start slowly introducing the clippers by training your dog to view the clippers as a neutral object. Always reward your dog with a treat after each exposure.
Grinders make a noise, which some dogs find scary. However, some find grinders are less intimidating to dogs than clippers.
If you use clippers, make sure they’re the appropriate size for the dog. Clippers that are too large are harder to handle properly.
Make Your Home Dog-Friendly
The most important part of learning how to trim dog nails that are overgrown is helping your pet stay calm throughout the process. One way to do that is to keep your home as pet-friendly as possible.
We want to help. Click here to learn our 10 favorite tips on creating a pet-friendly home.