How Do Groomers Cut Dog Nails

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Cutting your furry friend’s nails is a crucial part of grooming that keeps them cute and healthy.

However, nail trimming can be overwhelming for pets and owners alike. As such, many pet parents increasingly prefer to leave the task to professional groomers and vets due to their extensive training and experience trimming dog nails.

Read on to learn how groomers cut dog nails, from preparing to trimming and filing for seamless and stress-free nail cutting.   

How Do Groomers Trim Dog Nails (Steps)

While trimming a dog’s nails can be daunting for a dog owner, a professional groomer can do it safely and efficiently to keep your pet happy and healthy.

But how do groomers cut dog nails? Here is the step-by-step guide they follow.

Gathering Supplies

Trimming dog nails requires a couple of supplies1, such as nail trimmers, styptic powder, and dog treats.

Nail trimmers, including grinders, scissors, and guillotines, come in different types to suit distinct dog needs.

Most groomers find scissor-styled trimmers (like these) suitable for puppies and small dogs, while pliers-styled clippers (like these) are best for big dogs with large and thick nails.

Others prefer grinders because they are easy to use and have negligible injury risk. Some dog nail trimmers have guards to avoid cutting the nail too short.  

The styptic powder becomes handy when groomers cut a nail too short, leading to bleeding. It stops bleeding while easing pain and discomfort.(here’s the full rundown on how to stop your dog’s nail from bleeding)

Treats are vital in dog nail cutting to promote positive reinforcement and make the process less scary for your dog.    

Easing the Dog

Nail trimming can be an anxiety-inducing activity for dogs, especially when occurring for the first time. (check out our tips on how to get your dog to like nail trims)

Luckily, dog groomers have what it takes to ease dogs before, during, and after the process.

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First, they create a pleasant environment for nail trimming that is comfortable and distraction-free.

Second, groomers allow dogs to get accustomed to nail clippers or grinders and reward them with treats. The dog sniffs the trimmer and receives a reward for it.

Then, the groomer turns on the trimmer, so the dog gets used to the sound and rewards accordingly.

Positioning the Dog

While there’re many positions for trimming dogs’ nails, the best one depends on dog type and groomer preference.

The common ones include:

  • Sitting side-by-side with the dog and reaching out their paws
  • Picking the paws from the front, so the paws are in front of you
  • Holding the dog on the lap or a steady surface
  • Sitting behind the pet and flipping paws backward
  • Letting someone else hold the dog, especially huge dogs
Positioning your dog to cut his nails

You should try all of these positions out to see which one works best for your and your pup.

Isolating and Cutting

After choosing an appropriate position to hold the dog during a nail trim, groomers decide on the paw to begin with and expose the nail.

Dogs with furry feet require trimming or pushing the hair near the nail for optimal visibility.

Then, groomers gently but firmly position the dog’s paw between their thumb and forefinger and extend the nail by pushing down the paw pad.

Finally, groomers cut the nail as short as position when avoiding the quick -pink area of the paw containing blood vessels, to prevent injury.

Also, they trim the nail in bits rather than chunks for maximum safety. Do not forget to cut the dewclaws (like a dog’s thumb).

As you trim nails, give lots of treats, so the dog associates nail trims with something positive.

Filing Nails

A dog’s pedicure does not end with nail cutting.

Groomers go the extra step of filing nails to get rid of sharp tips and fragments left during trimming.

They grasp a dog’s paw, spread the toes apart, and use a heavy-duty nail file to attain a smooth nail finish.

Groomer Tips for Cutting Difficult Dog Nails

Groomer cutting dog nails

While nail cutting is fundamental, some dogs are uncooperative or even aggressive.

Learn how to cut aggressive dogs’ nails here.

Some canines don’t like nail care because it creates an unpleasant sensation or has past traumas from nail trimming.

Perhaps a nail was clipped too short, resulting in pain and bleeding. When dogs do not want their nails clipped, they may try to flee or become aggressive and bite.

As a result, they endanger themselves and the groomer.

Fortunately, groomers are experienced at working with difficult nails and uncooperative dogs. They employ the tips below.

  • Learn proper nail length to avoid injuring the dog
  • Teach dog owners the desensitization method2 whereby they get their dogs comfortable with paws being touched and handled. Reward the dog when they accept handling and create positive associations with nail trimmers.
  • Use proper tools for maximum efficiency and minimum discomfort and pain. This means choosing the appropriate nail clipper or grinder and knowing how to use it. Also, ensure the nail trimmers are sharp and of good quality for a quicker, cleaner, and more precise cut.
  • Use a muzzle or restrain the dog with the face away from you
  • Maintain calmness during nail cutting, avoiding getting upset and punishing the dog

FAQs About Cutting Dog Nails

Do Vets Sedate Dogs to Cut Nails

Vets can sedate excessively aggressive dogs3 to cut problematic nails before desensitization is successful.

A sedative lessens a dog’s fear, anxiety, and stress while protecting the groomer.

Vets and groomers use over-the-counter drugs, supplements, pheromones, and aromatherapy to sedate dogs for nail clipping for a less traumatizing and stress-free experience.

Physical restraint is not adequate for aggressive dogs because it makes them more fearful and aggressive and may harm the restraining person.

As a dog becomes more accustomed and less reactive to nail cutting, sedatives can be withdrawn.

To learn how to sedate your dog to trim their nails, check out our guide.

What Happens If I Can’t Cut My Dogs Nails

 Long nails have adverse effects on your dog’s health and happiness, including;
– They reduce traction and may result in deformed feet4
– They cause pain during walking and increase the likelihood of an infection
– They get caught up in blankets and carpets
– They cause joint problems, mainly when a dog develops an unusual walking style
– Chronic long nails can lead to arthritis

Therefore, if you can’t cut your dog’s nails, have a professional groomer or vet do it for you to promote health and well-being.

How Often Should You Cut Dog Nails

The rule of thumb is to trim dog nails monthly. The frequency may increase or decrease depending on the growth rate and rate of worn down.

For instance, dogs that rarely touch the ground require frequent nail trimming compared to those that run on rough surfaces regularly.

A dog is a good candidate for trimming if it makes clicking sounds when walking on hard floors and its nails extend beyond the quick.

Take Away

Cutting nails is crucial to keep furry friends happy, healthy, and pain-free. It prevents discomfort and irreversible damage associated with long nails.

With the necessary tools, a love for dogs, a positive attitude, lots of treats, and patience, groomers trim dog nails safely and effectively.



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