How To Cut Overgrown Dog Nails

Long nails can be quite a personal fashion statement for humans, but for our dogs, long nails cause painful issues that can affect their gait and posture. Unfortunately, getting in a clipping session can be a very difficult, traumatizing endeavor, ending in tears, frustration, and even blood. Learn how to cut overgrown dog nails in a way that is pleasant for you and your dog. You might even create an experience that they end up looking forward to-and one you won’t have to dread.

how to cut overgrown dog nails

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Why Long Nails Are Detrimental For Dogs

Overgrown nails can put pressure on the nail pad and your dog’s entire paw, altering their gait as they try to compensate for the pain in their feet. If your dog’s nails remain overgrown for too long, the pain in their feet can creep up their legs, leading to tendon injuries, arthritis, and even permanently deform their paws. In addition to this unpleasantness, the bundle of blood vessels and nerves within the nail (the quick) grows with a dog’s nail, meaning that the longer they grow, the less you’ll be able to trim them at one time. In the long run, this can pose quite an issue, but it can be mitigated through consistent trims.

A dog may even change their posture as a result of painful pressure on their nails, as they associate contact between their nails and the ground to mean they are traveling uphill. If you can hear them clicking over hardwood floors and tile, it’s likely time to pull out the clippers.

5 Steps For A Smooth Cut

Nail trimming time is anxiety-inducing for most dogs and their owners, which is why taking time to relax and tire out your dog will set you up for a calmer, smoother experience all around. Here are five steps on how to cut overgrown dog nails the right way.

Make Your Dog Comfortable And Introduce The Clippers

This guy looks like an Angry Schnauzer but it's the grooming style

Playing for a few minutes beforehand will make your dog much more eager to settle down and relax for a bit, as opposed to forcing them into sudden stillness and compliance. Allowing your dog some time to sniff and investigate the clippers or grinder will make it seem much less strange and dangerous, and even holding your dog’s paw with the clipper in hand will help create a positive association.

Position Your Dog

Try to limit their wiggle room as much as possible, even if this means you’ll need a second pair of hands. In a best-case scenario, you’ll have someone to help hold and distract your dog, allowing you to carefully and accurately get to clipping.

Find The Nail’s Quick

Once you’ve isolated a nail, locate the quick within each nail before cutting. In overgrown nails, the quick will likely extend quite a ways down the nail, meaning you won’t be able to trim as much as you may be expecting. Start small and trim every week until you get to the right length, as these increments will gradually lower the quick and ensure you don’t knick it.

Exude Confidence!

Aside from going in with blind confidence, remaining sure and quick in your motions will reduce stress in yourself and your dog. They’ll be able to pick up on your hesitation and nervousness, and if you find yourself reaching this point take a break and step back.

Start Small And Stay Consistent

As aforementioned, it may take some time for the quick to reach its desired length and you’ll thus need to trim in shorter increments, about once every week until your dog’s nails no longer touch the floor. Once you reach this point, the quick will be adjusted to the new length and trimming won’t have to be as often.

Happy Rottweiler after dog nail trimming

What To Do If You Cut The Quick

Prioritize staying calm–though these injuries tend to bleed a lot, your dog is unlikely to be in true danger. A styptic powder will stop the bleeding, but alternatives like baking soda and cornstarch can also help stem the flow. Once the bleeding is under control, wrap the injured paw in a bandage until the flow has completely stopped. Forgo trimming for the rest of the day and allow your dog to relax and recover, amply rewarding them for remaining calm and mitigating the negative association they’ll be tempted to the harbor.

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