Being a dog owner means sometimes taking on tasks that might not be that pleasant — for either you or your dog. Nail clipping, in some cases, is one of the tasks. This doesn’t need to be a horrible experience for you and your pooch, says Petplan staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Jackson. Assuming your dog is fairly laid-back, there are a few steps you can take to make sure the task goes smoothly for everyone involved. Here’s what Dr. Jackson recommends:
Before you begin, make sure your dog is calm and relaxed, his paws and nails are clean, and any excess hair in that area is trimmed. You’ll have a much harder time — and increase your risk of cutting the nails too short — if you can’t see what you’re doing.
Make sure you have a good, sharp pair of dog friendly nail trimmers, a damp paper towel and some styptic sticks or powder (baking soda works pretty well, too). The styptic sticks can be used if you accidently nick the “quick,” or the blood vessel inside your dog’s nail. If possible, ask a family member or friend to help hold your dog still. (Even easygoing dogs might be ready for a break by the time you get to the law paw.) Having some treats handy can’t hurt, either.
Locate the quick in each toenail — you want to avoid cutting that far. If the nail is white or clear, it should be easy to see; if the nail is black, this might require some guesswork.
Snip off a bit of the nail tip — be conservative to start, particularly if the nail is too dark to see the quick. Stop if your dog flinches or if the nail bleeds.
If the nail does bleed, don’t worry — use the damp paper towel to wipe away any blood, and apply the styptic powder or baking soda with a cotton swab to help stop the bleeding. This bleeding will stop on its own — it just might take a few moments and some added patience.
If your dog is getting antsy, give him a break. It might take a little longer, but you’ll all be happier with the outcome.
Give your furry friend a treat or two for being such a good dog during his ‘paw-dicure’!
If your pet becomes agitated, aggressive, seems overly uncomfortable, etc., it’s time to abort the mission. You can try again another day, or leave it to the experts.
Cheryl Lock is an editor at Studio One. Her work has appeared online at Petside and Pet360, as well as in print in publications like Parents, Family Circle and Runner’s World. She lives in New York with her adorable rescue cat, Penny, and a rabbit named Nugget.