Nail clipping - how to cut your dog's claws
It is important to cut your dog's claws regularly because long claws can increase the risk of injury. What should you keep in mind when cutting your dog's claws and how often should you cut them? Here we go through how best to cut your dog's claws - step by step.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Claw clipping is something that many dog owners struggle with. It is not uncommon for dogs to find the experience unpleasant, which can make nail clipping difficult for you to do. Some choose to get help from, for example, pet stores or a vet. In some cases, it is necessary to give sedatives to be able to cut their claws, which must be done by a vet.
How often should you cut your dog’s claws?
It will vary between individuals how often you need to cut your dog's claws. Some dogs' claws grow quickly and may need to be clipped as often as weekly. Other dogs need their claws cut every few weeks. It is better to cut them a little more frequently so that you only need to trim smaller amounts.
What do you need to get started?
Dog nail clippers
Choose a pair of dog-specific nail clippers. Large dogs are often easier to cut with large clippers, and small dogs may need a pair of clippers used for rabbits and guinea pigs. Make sure the clippers are sharp. Blunt clippers can do more harm than good as they instead squeeze the nail and cause pain in the dog.
Using small treats will help to reward your dog so that they associate claw clipping with something nice.
Sometimes the edges of the nails become sharp after cutting them. Filing the edges will reduce the risk of scratches and wounds. A nail file can also be used instead of cutting the nails. It may take longer but can suit dogs who, for example, do not like the sound of clippers.
Sometimes when the nails are cut, the sensitive quick is cut by accident. For these cases, it is good to have haemostatic powder to hand to help the bleeding to stop. This powder is very effective; put a small amount of powder where the claw is bleeding. Haemostatic powder is available at most pharmacies, pet stores or at your vet. Potato flour can also have a similar action.
Compress, cotton wool or paper
Instead, you can apply a compress, cotton wool or paper on the claw to stop bleeding.
How best to cut the claws?
Find a position that is comfortable for both you and your dog. Large dogs can often stand or sit while lifting one paw at a time. Small dogs can, for example, lie on your lap.
- Grasp the paw and use your thumb as a support under the pad of the claw you intend to cut
- Cut a very small piece, preferably a little obliquely (on an angle). You can then see approximately how much you need to cut and have time to discover if you are close to cutting in the quick; continue trimming little by little to the desired length
- When you get to the slightly softer area in the middle of the underside of the clone, you are close to the pulp: stop cutting
- If there are sharp edges, use a file to smooth the edges
- Praise your dog and feel free to give a treat
- Remember to also cut the dew claws, they are easy to forget
What should I do if a claw starts to bleed?
You should always try to avoid cutting the quick, but sometimes accidents happen. It is important to stay calm and not stress about bleeding. Your dog will often sense your mood; they are often more affected by their owner being stressed and scared, than the actual damage to the quick.
Take a compress or cotton wool and hold against the claw where it is bleeding. Most bleeding usually stops after a while. If it does not stop, try holding an ice cube on the site to make the blood vessels constrict. Haemostatic powder or potato flour can also be helpful. It may start to bleed again when the dog starts to walk around, as the blood circulation increases. If this happens, repeat the procedure above.
When to contact a vet
If a clipped claw does not stop the bleeding, you should contact a vet, as well as if you are worried about anything else with your animal. Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our vets to get an initial assessment of your dog!