We pay so much attention to our dog’s personality that we often neglect other things that are just as important. While many pet owners disagree that a good grooming routine is essential, there are several reasons why responsible dog parents take care of the finer details.
Caring for your pup’s teeth, ears and fur has its merits, but there’s a lot more to proper dog grooming. Your dog’s paws and nails require regular maintenance as well. Although most canines prefer not to have their feet messed with, clipping your dog’s nails is a necessary evil that you both will have to get comfortable with.
Understanding the Importance of Clipping Your Dog’s Nails
Regularly trimming your dog’s nails is an important part of pet ownership for numerous reasons, including but not limited to the following:
- Overgrown nails can cause your dog great pain, especially when he runs or walks.
- Untrimmed nails may begin to curl under, thereby growing into the pad of your dog’s paw.
- Punctured or damaged paw pads can become inflamed and/or infected, often requiring surgery to have it repaired.
- The nailbeds of untrimmed nails are more susceptible to irritation, bacteria and subsequent infection.
- Sharp, unmanicured nails can inadvertently cause damage to furniture and flooring or injury to people and other animals.
(NOT-SO) FUN FACT: There have been countless court cases pertaining to dogs and the power of their untrimmed nails. Usually, the neglectful pet owner loses. Unfortunately, it’s the sole responsibility of the owner to ensure their dog is safe to be around if, in fact, that dog is ever in contact with people. This includes flea treatments, parasite medications, vaccines and proper grooming.
5 Practical Tips to Make Clipping Your Dog’s Nails Easier
Everyone may be talking about how important it is to regularly trim your dog’s nails, but nobody is saying a word about how easy it is. That’s because it’s not easy. It’s difficult, and that’s why we pay groomers the big bucks to do it for us.
But, when taking your dog to the groomer every couple of weeks isn’t in the budget, doing it at home works just as well. All you need are a few tried and true techniques, a couple practical tips, and enough patience to practice the routine a handful of times before giving up. You don’t have to possess any special skills, just use the following guidelines to navigate your way through this obligatory “adventure.”
- Take It Slow
Although most experts would agree that trimming your dog’s nails at a young age is the best way to get him used to it, that’s not always possible. Elderly, adopted and neglected canines won’t likely have any experience on the grooming table. Instead of aggressively introducing the concept to Fido, start by gently massaging his pads and rubbing the skin between his toes. This will get him accustomed to having his feet handled and make nail clipping so much easier for the both of you.
- Give Him Love and Support
Most likely, your pup is scared to death of those nail clippers in your hand. Not only is he unsure about what they are, he’s probably not too fond of the sensation they create. Most nail clippers are loud, and an improper technique can be painful. Don’t forget to give your dog lots of snuggles and verbal encouragement while you groom him. It may seem silly but it truly helps your pup stay calm.
- Give Him a Couple Treats Too
There’s nothing wrong with bribing your dog so he will stay put while you clip his nails. After all, that’s how most dog trainers get their clients to obey. Offer him a handful of his favorite tasty snack but only give him a nibble when he’s behaving properly. This conditions him to expect a reward, though, so be mindful of the kind of snack you’re giving and remain consistent.
- Don’t Ever Restrain Him
You may be tempted to hold your dog tightly to make them stop squirming, but that’s one of the most counterproductive things you can do. Tight holds make your dog nervous and defensive, plus it can injury him or you in the process. Instead, have your pup lay down on his side and pet him gently while speaking softly.
- Avoid the Quick of His Nail Like the Plague
This is very important, folks: do not cut into the quick of his nail. You’ll know if it happens because the nail will begin to bleed profusely and Fido will probably freak out because it hurts. So, before attempting to clip anyone’s nails be sure you know how to find the quick. Don’t panic if you mess up because it will cause your pup even more distress. Simply apply plenty of pressure and be waiting with a styptic pen in case of emergency.
Regularly clipping Fido’s nails may seem like a stressful undertaking but it gets much easier with time. BONUS: If you learn the right technique and avoid hurting your dog’s feet, nail clipping can become an effective trust exercise.
Using the Right Equipment
The type and quality of the nail clipping devices you use matters more than you might think. Although some may be content to use cheap clippers and grinders, it’s best to use high-quality devices instead. Also, be sure your tools are adequately sharpened or else they will damage the nail and potentially injury your dog.
The right equipment will do a superb job without causing harm, allowing you to clip the nails less often and train your pet to accept the routine. In general, it’s recommended that you clip your dog’s nails every three to four weeks. However, the frequency depends on the breed and activity level of the canine.
Whether you do it at home or have a groomer take care of it for you is not the issue. What’s important is that you clip your dog’s nails carefully, gently, and on a regular schedule.