Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The 5 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Dog Nail Clipping

Proper Nail Care for Your Dog

We're often asked about doggy nail care, so we thought it best to compile a blog article covering your most frequently asked questions.

1. Should I use a clipper or a nail grinder?

Ah, the age-old question: Which tool is best for the job? In this case, it's not so easy since each of these tools have their own pros and cons. Which tool you choose should ultimately depend on whether the pros can outweigh the cons for your particular situation.
Fear not, you can master both of these tools with a little patience and diligence. Just like anything else worth doing, clipping nails takes time and practice. After all, it's a new skill for you - and your pup.

About Nail Clippers

There are a couple of styles of clippers to consider: the scissor clipper and a guillotine-style clipper. (As if nail clipping wasn’t intimidating enough as it is.)

The scissor clipper is probably what's best known to you. You tend to find these clippers at most pet stores and everywhere online; scissor clippers are very low-maintenance and come in a variety of sizes. They don't require sharpening, and because they can apply a large amount of force, they can cut through thick nails on large dogs pretty easily.

The guillotine-style clipper looks exactly how it sounds. Rather than two blades coming down
together in a scissor motion, the guillotine uses one blade that comes down straight in order to get the job done. These clippers are really only recommended for small dogs since you can't apply as much force with them, and the guillotine blade does need to be replaced regularly. 

Both styles of clippers are highly affordable, under $15 on Amazon. When buying tools for dog grooming, saving a few extra dollars by going with a less reputable brand simply isn't worth it. We recommend the Safari clippers for small and large dogs, and the Resco guillotine clipper for your smaller companions only.

Nail Clipper Pros

Scissor clippers need virtually no maintenance. Guillotine clippers should have their blades replaced. All clippers have the potential to dull so it’s important to replace your tools if you notice difficulty cutting or nail splintering.
These small tools will fit into any bag or side pocket for travel, and can be easily stowed away in a small bathroom drawer.

Not many things you'll buy for your dog over the course of his or her lifetime will cost you under $20. Nail clippers don't require a big investment and are affordable to replace.

With a snip-snip-snip, you're done and done. Nail clipping isn't a time-consuming task like most other grooming procedures.

Nail Clipper Cons

The Quick
The quick lives inside your dog's nail and it's filled with many tiny nerve endings and blood vessels. We often hear from dog owners who've accidentally clipped into the quick, resulting in bleeding and crying. More on this common issue below.

It's also very easy to pinch the quick, even if you don’t cut it, when using clippers. This is why your dog tends to pull back as soon as he sees the clippers come out.

As you're cutting your dog's nails, you shouldn't find any splintering or breaking but sometimes this does occur. The most common culprit for this issue is a dull blade.

About the Dremel

A dremel, or nail grinder, is an alternative tool for trimming your dog's nails. Dremels are most commonly used for sanding, polishing or sharpening, and they can pack quite a powerful punch. A dog nail dremel such as this one is intended to provide a safe and effective alternative to clipping with rotations up to 13,000 RPMs (professional shop dremels can easily rotate at 35,000 RPMs so we don't recommend using one of these).

Dremel Pros

Clipper Anxiety
If your dog flips out at the sight of a clipper, it might be time to switch to a dremel (more on this below).

More Control
Unlike with a clipper, a dremel will allow you to literally remove millimeters off your dog's nails. This can be a great solution to the problem of bleeding.

Easy, Smooth Shortening
Dremels won't break or shatter nails. As a matter of fact, you can easily round nail edges with a dremel for a smooth appearance.

Dremel Cons

The Quick
If your main worry when clipping nails is hitting the quick, the dremel is not a foolproof solution. The quick lives inside the nail, and anytime you start cutting into the nail - whether it's with a clipper or a dremel - you do risk hitting the quick.

Pretty Scary
If your dog doesn't like new noises, the dremel probably won't be for him. Additionally, a dremel causes vibrations that some dogs simply won't tolerate. Hold an electric toothbrush up to your dog's nail to see how he or she responds. If the reaction is adverse, avoid the dremel.

When you sand, you create nail dust. This is not an issue health-wise but it can be irritating to the lining or your nose or your eyes, and of course creates additional clean up.

2. My dog won't hold still. What do I do?

Whether you're using a clipper or a dremel, the reason your dog won't hold still is likely the same: you've pinched or even cut the quick. Due to the amount of nerve endings residing in the quick, this was a painful experience for him or her. One or two times of pinching the quick, and they'll quickly associate the glimmer of the clipper with pain.

But your dog's nails have to be cut. So what's the solution?
If you power through it, you’ll risk cutting into the quick even more.

Therefore, take your time. Cut only in very small increments, then reward your pup immediately with a treat. In the beginning, consider cutting only one nail before letting them wander off again. This doesn't breed bad habits, it breeds trust in the process.
Your dog's nails don't grow at astronomical rates, so it’s not detrimental to take breaks. You'll be amazed at how quickly your dog becomes accustomed to the idea of nail trimming once the pressure is off.

3. My dog has black nails. How can I tell where the quick is?

If your dog as white nails, it's very easy to tell where the quick ends. But black nails are completely opaque and hide the quick, making nail cutting an even more daunting task.
Here's the thing about the quick: it's not always in the same place in the nail. The quick of your dog's nail actually recedes the more nail you cut off.


If your dog has long nails, the quick will almost reach the tip of the nail. So when cutting long nails, only cut off only a small increment.
Once you’ve made the initial cut, the quick will begin to recede. If you wait a week, you won't notice much nail growth, but now is a good time to cut off a little bit more. Again, use only small increments.
As this process continues, the quick will become shorter and you'll be able to cut down the nail to its ideal length.

What is the ideal length of a dog's nail?
The quick won't recede infinitely, which means that you're always at risk of nipping it if you go too short. Deciding the ideal length of your dog's nails is very easy.

Stand your dog up.
Are his nails touching the ground? If so, they're still too long. The pitter patter of puppy feet throughout the house should never turn to a clickety clacker.

4. How often should I trim my dog’s nails?

Every dog's nails grow at different rates. Dogs that spend a lot of time taking walks outside, particularly on rougher terrain, will naturally have their nails ground down.
Your dog's nails should always remain above the floor when he or she is standing up. Because the nail quick will protrude further into the nail the longer you wait in between trimmings, we recommend cutting off a bit each week.

5. My dog keeps bleeding when I cut his nails. Help!

Cut the nails more frequently and cut the nails only in small increments. Cutting off small increments will greatly reduce the risk of cutting into the quick. Once the nail's been cut down a bit, the quick will actually recede a small amount. Use this to your advantage; don't wait until the nail is long again to cut off another small increment, rather keep trimming once a week. This helps the quick stay short.
Your dog's nails only need to be short enough to stay off the ground. For most dogs, a small once-a-week trim is plenty.

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