Trimming your dog's nails is an operation that should be done regularly when the animal does not wear out its nails naturally, in order to avoid small problems that can degenerate into more severe health problems.
Very active dogs and those who go out a lot usually don't need their owners to maintain their nails, but for sedentary animals, this small intervention is often unavoidable. If you hear your pet's nails clicking on your tile or wood floor, it's time to trim his nails! To help you, we explain here how to proceed, without risking to hurt your furry friend.
Why trim your dog's nails?
Taking care of your dog's nails may seem trivial, but in reality it is a care not to be taken lightly, because nails that are too long can cause both minor and more serious problems.
Painful ingrown toenails, paw injuries, and even lameness and musculoskeletal problems... The consequences of long nails can have a serious impact on your dog's health. You may wonder how wild canines do it in the wild, since they don't have nail clippers under their paws? They simply move around a lot, allowing their nails to file naturally against the ground.
In fact, the story is more complicated for sedentary dogs (sick, convalescent, aging or simply lazy), but also for those who live indoors and walk on surfaces that are not abrasive enough to file their nails (tiles, parquet, carpet, etc.).
When to cut your dog's nails?
When your pet's nails are really too long, it's easy to see it with the naked eye, as they tend to curl up on themselves, adopting an exaggerated curve.
Before you get to that point, you can tell by the clicking sound your dog makes when he walks on hard ground. This sound is not normal, as some owners think, since your dog's nails should be short enough not to touch the ground when he walks and trots, reaching the ground only when he runs or jumps to give him better support.
If you prefer to have a schedule in mind, it is estimated that a dog's nails should be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks if they do not wear out sufficiently on their own.
How to cut your dog's nails ?
There are two ways to cut your dog's nails, the first is to do it yourself, the second is to delegate this task to a professional. Veterinarians and dog groomers can perform this task quickly for a fairly low fee.
Sometimes, the veterinarian can cut your dog's nails free of charge when the dog is anesthetized. As all dogs do not appreciate having their paws touched, it is always easier to perform this treatment on a sleeping dog and, in fact, perfectly still.
If you are not confident in your ability to trim your dog's nails, it is recommended to turn to a professional, at least the first time. Don't hesitate to ask for advice at this time so that you can take care of your dog's nails yourself the next time.
If you feel confident in doing this little procedure yourself, all you have to do is get the right accessories and follow a safe and effective method. Before shortening your dog's nails, always inspect them thoroughly for any abnormalities. The tips of your dog's paws can be subject to many benign and severe pathologies, which will often heal better if diagnosed early.
Accessories for cutting your dog's nails
If you choose to cut your dog's nails yourself, you will need an essential accessory to perform this care in the rules of art, I named the nail clippers. The nail clipper is a small cutting tool adapted to the shape and strength of your dog's nails, without which you will not be able to make a clean cut.
Indeed, human nail clippers are not adapted to the dog's morphology, and are not practical and handy enough to allow you to trim your dog's nails without risking to hurt him. Also, avoid conventional nail scissors, which are not strong enough to cut your dog's nails, and other tools (electrician's nail clippers, etc.): a poorly adapted accessory may crush the nail instead of cutting it cleanly, causing painful internal lesions.
If your dog is impulsive or grumpy, and is one of those specimens that do not hesitate to nip their owners when they are unhappy, a muzzle may be necessary. In this case, it will be advisable to accustom your pet to wearing a muzzle well before proceeding with the nail clipping, so that he is comfortable with this accessory at the time of the treatment.
Be careful, do not try to get your dog used to the muzzle by making him wear it for long periods of time, and never leave your dog with it unattended. If you choose a soft muzzle, note that it keeps the dog's mouth closed and prevents him from breathing properly, so it is not usable when it is hot, and should be reserved for a very short period of wear.
How to trim your dog's nails
Once you have all the materials you need to get started on your dog's nails, all you have to do is get started.
Preparing your dog to have his nails cut
Start by getting your dog used to having his paws handled without flinching, remaining calm and as still as possible. If your dog seems distraught at the idea of having his nails clipped, give up the idea and ask a professional who may have a specific technique to recommend. Once your dog is completely calm, sit on a flat surface (the floor of your home will do) and ask your four-legged friend to sit in front of you or lie down.
Small, bulky dogs can be placed on their owner's lap if you find this position more comfortable. Take a close look at your dog's nails: they are made up of two parts, a matrix containing blood and nerves, which allows the nail to be produced, and a dead part, namely the tip, which should be cut. In order not to cut too short, it is essential to locate the living matrix of the nail before you start, as it protrudes from your pet's fingers and is located somewhere in the claw. If your dog has white nails, you can see a pink shape through the nail matrix. If your dog has black claws, use a light to see the matrix of the claw through the light, it will be more red in color.
Cutting your dog's nails
Now that you're ready to trim your pet's nails, it's time to get started! Press lightly on your dog's nail pad to get the nail out, and position the nail clippers a few millimeters below the matrix, pointing upwards.
If you are afraid of cutting too close to the matrix, don't hesitate to cut longer and adjust later if necessary. Don't forget to cut your dog's dewclaw, which also has a tendency to grow too much and curl up on itself, sometimes until it enters the animal's skin.
Who to get your dog's nails trimmed by?
If you don't feel comfortable cutting your dog's nails yourself, you can have your dog groomed by a dog groomer or a veterinarian. If your pet has an upcoming appointment with his or her veterinarian, the veterinarian may perform this treatment free of charge in addition to the other treatments your dog will receive during his or her consultation.
How much does it cost to cut a dog's nails?
Having your dog's nails trimmed by a dog groomer or a veterinarian can cost between 15 and 40$ on average: since the rates are not regulated, they can vary greatly from one professional to another. In some cases, it is possible that your veterinarian will cut your dog's nails for free in addition to other interventions, especially if the animal is to be anesthetized, in which case this little care is greatly facilitated.
How not to cut your dog's nails too short?
Before cutting your pet's nails, make sure you know where the living matrix of the nail is, and distinguish it from the dead part that you can cut. If your dog's nails are white, you can easily spot the pink part of the nail matrix. If the nail is black, you need to use a light to see it through. Always cut several millimeters under the matrix: better too long than too short!
What tool should I use to trim my dog's nails?
Your dog's nails should be clipped with a nail clipper designed for this purpose. A tool that is not sharp enough (dogs' nails are very strong) or that is not adapted to the animal's morphology could cause injuries.
How do I know if my dog's nails are too long?
Normally, your dog's nails should not touch the ground when he is standing still or walking. If you hear a clicking sound with every step your dog takes on a hard surface, his nails are too long.
Also look at the shape of your dog's nails: they should not be curved, in which case they are too long. Trimming your dog's nails is part of the regular care your dog may need. However, it is a technical operation and not everyone feels capable of doing it.
If you have the slightest doubt about your ability to trim your dog's nails yourself without hurting him, call a veterinarian or a dog groomer who will do it for you. It's better to spend a dozen euros to give your dog a small manicure every two weeks, rather than risk cutting his flesh and causing him a painful wound.