When it comes to grooming, brushing and bathing a dog are easy enough. But nail care, specifically trimming a dog’s nails, can present a problem for some unfortunate dog owners. A dog lovin’ woman I knew was a long-time puppy raiser for service dogs. I was looking at one of her Labrador Retrievers when she said, “Oops, gotta go. I’m going to be late for Hillary’s vet appointment.” I said, “Is she okay?” ”Oh yes,” replied the puppy raiser. “She needs her nails cut. She hates it and puts up such a ruckus I have to have the vet do it.”
Vets and groomers are often called upon to do the nail care for dogs who resist having their nails trimmed, but with some shaping, reinforcement, and consistency, nail care is something that dogs can learn to tolerate and even enjoy. From CITIZEN CANINE, below are some tips about nail care.
Foot and Nail Care
As with humans, dogs need proper care of the feet and nails. The feet of heavily coated breeds should appear neat. This is for more than cosmetic reasons. When the hair between the footpads is trimmed, air can circulate better, and the dog is less likely to get infections.
Professional groomers use clippers to trim between a dog’s toes. However, this takes skill and practice. If you have a well-trained dog that will be still while you groom his feet, you can use scissors to clip the hair on the bottom of the feet and between the toes.
As for the nails, it is surprising how many experienced dog trainers have trouble clipping their dogs’ nails. Rather than dealing with a dog that goes berserk when he sees the nail clippers, some owners will have the dog’s nails clipped by a groomer or veterinarian throughout the dog’s entire life. Training your dog to accept nail care early in his life not only makes your life easier but could also save you a lot of money.
If you have trouble clipping your dog’s nails, don’t despair. This is a skill you can learn. The first step is to make sure that you can handle the dog’s feet. Positive motivational procedures combined with desensitization are the trick to being able to handle ticklish paws.
Nail clippers come in several varieties; the most well-known types are the scissor-style clippers and the guillotine clippers. For a little more money, there are new safety clippers that actually have a lighted sensor that tells you when you are getting too close to the inner part of the nail, called the quick, which contains sensitive nerves and blood vessels. To prevent cutting the quick when using clippers, be conservative and take off small pieces at a time.
A grinder is another helpful tool for shortening your dog’s nails. The grinder is a handheld tool with a grinding bit that is covered with a sandpaper-like surface. If you are disciplined about maintaining your dog’s nails regularly, the grinder may be all that you need, and you can avoid having to use clippers. However, the grinder heats up, so don’t risk burning your dog by using a grinder on overly long nails.
Nail clipping is another task for which we recommend some hands-on training from a knowledgeable person. With a little training, you can learn techniques to ensure your dog never gets hurt, and you’ll get some confidence.