Dog Nail Trimming / Clipping
Nail trimmers come in a variety of types. The most common
nail trimmer is the guillotine trimmer. The top of the dog's
nail is inserted into the opening of this metal tool above
the cutting blade. When the handle is squeezed together, the
cutting mechanism is activated. Other nail trimmer types are
the scissors type and the safety nail trimmer, which is equipped
with a safety stop near the cutting blade to limit the amount
of nail trimmed. Then there are nail files and electric nail
Nails seem to grow at different rates in
different dogs. In any case, one rule holds true: the nails
must be kept short for the feet to remain healthy. Long nails
interfere with the dog's gait, making walking awkward or painful.
They can also break easily. This usually happens at the base
of the nail, where blood vessels and nerves are located, and
precipitates a trip to the veterinarian.
Another problem affects dogs whose overgrown
nails curl toward the foot, eventually piercing the sensitive
pads and causing deep pad infections. Dewclaws most frequently
become overgrown, presumably because owners commonly overlook
them. Many breeders routinely have dewclaws removed when puppies
are a few days old. Check your puppy when you get it. If its
dewclaws are intact, you must be sure to keep the nails short
at all times. These problems can be easily prevented with
regular nail care.
To begin with, regularly stroke the puppy's
feet, gently touching each toe in turn. Allow it to become
accustomed to having this delicate part of the body handled,
so it won't be apt to panic when you get down to business
Unfortunately, some dogs never adjust to
having their nails trimmed. They need only see the clippers
and they're squalling, long before you're anywhere near a
nail. In that case, trimming nails becomes a two-person job:
one person to hold the dog, the other to do the work. It can
still be a test of wills. That's why you should accustom your
young puppy to nail care. It increases the likelihood of maintaining
peace when the animal is fully grown.
Unpigmented nails are simple to trim. If
your dog has at least one unpigmented nail, examine it closely.
You should see a small pink triangle extending from the base
of the nail narrowing toward the tip. This triangle houses
the blood supply and nerves, which you want to avoid when
trimming the nail. Position the nail trimmer so that it clearly
bypasses the pink area, and proceed to clip. That's all there
is to nail trimming.
Of course, trimming nails is infinitely more
challenging in dogs with black or pigmented nails. Because
you can't see the pink part, you must estimate how much nail
to clip. To be on the safe side, trim only the part of each
nail which hooks downward. The trimmed nail should just clear
If you're absolutely unnerved of the thought
of nail trimming, find a veterinarian or groomer to do it
for you. This service usually costs very little and goes a
long way in keeping your dog comfortable.