dogs with clipped nailsMaintaining your pet’s grooming is important to the health and well-being of your best fur-iend. Vital Essentials® cares about the overall quality of life of all canine and feline companions, which is why we’re bringing you Monday Makeover Grooming Tips and Tricks each week. This week we’re focusing on nail care, which can be a ruff task for fur-families. Check out our Cat Nail Clipping blog post to learn about giving your kitty a claw-esome pawdicure.

When clipping your dog’s nails, just remember the three P’s: practice, patience and praise! Start out slowly and have patience. Begin by getting your dog familiar with having their paws touched. Practice by clipping just one nail a day until your canine companion feels comfortable. Praise and reward your dog for the smallest victories. With practice, patience and praise your pup will have pampered paws in no time! 

Before clipping your dog’s nails: It’s im-paw-tent to first check that your dog needs a nail trim. Dogs that spend a lot of time walking on hard surfaces, such as pavement, often wear their nails down naturally. Nails that are a healthy length should clear the floor without making a clicking sound and should not curl under.

If your dog’s nails are clear you should be able to see a blood vein inside the nail; this is called the Quick. The Quick is sensitive and contains nerves and blood vessels. For black nails, the Quick usually begins where the nail starts to curve. Check the amount of growth past the Quick and check the length of all of your dog’s nails, including the dewclaws. Dewclaws are nails located higher up on the dog’s paw. Some dogs have two dewclaws, some dogs have four dewclaws and some dogs don’t have any dewclaws.  

If you’re concerned about clipping your dog’s nails, ask your veterinarian or groomer for a demonstration. 

Tools: The most common type of dog nail clippers are guillotine, pliers and scissor nail clippers. You can use whatever type of pet nail clipper you feel comfortable with. You may also want to have a clotting agent on hand, such as styptic powder, in case you trim a nail too short. A grinder, such as a pet-safe rotary tool, can also be used to file your dog’s nails down, but it’s recommended to use a grinder after first clipping the nails. If you choose to only grind the nails you will need to do it more regularly, about once per week. 

Clipping: Use lots of treats and encouragement so your dog won’t be afraid of nail clipping. If at any time you or your dog feel uncomfortable or unsafe during nail clipping, it is recommended you consult a professional groomer or veterinarian. 

Make sure to restrain your dog in a safe place. Have your dog stand and then lift each paw up individually and gently bend back into an L shape. Using your nail clippers, cut only the tip of the nail off, straight across. For clear nails, you should see the Quick inside the nail, which you want to avoid cutting. For black nails, just clip the tip of the nail off and then re-check the nail. The Quick will appear as a black dot in the middle. It’s always better to cut a small amount of length off more frequently, rather than cutting a large amount off and risking injury to your pet. Clipping too close to the Quick is painful for your dog and may cause bleeding. If you do clip too closely, rinse the injured nail in cold water, apply a clotting agent and seek veterinary assistance if necessary. 

After clipping your dog’s nails, be sure to follow up with praise and some high-value rewards such as Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Treats. That way your dog associates nail trimming with the positive experience of getting treats and will walk away with a wagging tail and a happy belly!  

Maintenance: Schedule a weekly time to clip your dog’s nails to help them feel more comfortable with the procedure. Just remember not to scold your pup while trimming their nails, as that will make them have negative associations with nail trimming. If the procedure is too stressful for you or your dog, visit a veterinarian or professional groomer for nail clipping.  

Most importantly, don’t forget the three P’s: practice, patience and praise. Using these methods your pup will have a pawlished pawdicure pronto!  To learn more about caring for your pet, check out our other Blog Posts, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or visit the Vital Essentials Website and enter your email to receive exclusive offers.