It is so important to keep your dog's nails trimmed and her feet in good condition. Walking on overly long nails is painful - can lead to broken nails, nail bed infection and huge amounts of bleeding - and can also lead to ingrown nails which break into the pads of your dogs paws.
Just a little bit of regular preventative action on your part can make life so much easier for your dog. Knowing how to cut a dog's nails and just a little extra care and attention will go a long way towards keeping your dog active and healthy for a long, long time to come.
The best way how to cut a dog's nails is to have the dog lying on a raised table or other surface. Do remember to put a non-slip mat for your dog to sit or stand on so she doesn't slip and hurt herself. Having someone strong hold your dog in their arms while you quickly clip a couple of nails is another effective way of doing this.
However, your dog may be as good as gold and let you cut their nails with no fuss at all - in which case you are a very fortunate person!
Carefully read the instructions for the nail clipping tool of your choice. For example, with the guillotine, you need to cut from the underneath of your dog's claw upwards. Never clip downwards.
Position the tool in the right place, wait for an opportune moment when your dog stops wriggling, double check that the clipper is in the right place and squeeze firmly and smoothly - the nail will just pop off.
When wondering when and how to cut dog's nails, little and often is the best policy. Just nibbling off the ends of each claw will be less stressful for your dog - and yourself! The point to aim for is to trim off any bit that protrudes over your dog's pad. Thus, when he stands, your dog's claws should not touch the ground.
The good thing is, very much like our own nails, the more you trim your dog's nails, the more the quick will recede. Therefore, clipping dog nails doesn't have to be done all at once - take your time.
Oooops! You've Cut Into The Quick!
However experienced you are in knowing how to cut a dog's nails, accidents will happen.
Clipping into the quick will cause your dog to yelp in pain - I hate it when that happens. And, just as would happen if you cut into your quick, a fair amount of bleeding will occur. As much as you try to not let this happen - it will at some stage - so it is best that you learn to deal with it.
Please, let me reassure you that it is not half as dramatic as it looks. Keep calm, deal with the situation and give your dog a big cuddle and his favorite treat when it is all over.
If learning how to cut a dog's nails is all a bit much for you, take your dog to a groomer (we even come to your home just for nails!) to have her nails trimmed. It doesn't cost very much and at least your dog wont hold it against you if her nails should accidentally be cut too deep!
If bleeding does occur, you have three options :
You let the bleeding stop normally - but this could go on for about 5 - 7 minutes (call the vet if it goes on for any longer) and be tramped into your carpets as your dog seeks to get away from you. Also, your dog will try to lick her bleeding nail, which could cause the bleeding to continue even longer.
You can hold a piece of tissue paper or a pinch of cornflour firmly against the source of the bleeding - if your dog will hang around long enough! - or
You can keep a styptic pen or stick handy as part of your dog's grooming kit, which when applied to your dog's nail will stop the bleeding instantly. It doesn't hurt your dog - which is a bonus. You can get this from your vet or a good pet store.
General Feet Check-Ups
Though knowing how to cut a dog's nails is important, just as important is checking your dog's feet regularly.
Check their pads for thorns or broken glass.
Always ensure their paws are rinsed when they get home from the beach as dog skin is pretty sensitive to salt water.
Always check them when they come back from their forest walks too - watch out for any signs of limping. Long haired dogs tend to bring half the woodland walk back home and you can occasionally find thorny bits buried deep within their coat.
In winter, pay special attention to your dogs' paws because of the salt gritting which takes place and also because they may have stepped on something they couldn't see under the snow.