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I spent my entire childhood watching my dad clip our dogs’ nails.
The metallic snapping sound always freaked me out, especially in the rare moment when the clipping ended in a bloody paw.
When I got Maggie, I couldn’t bring myself to trim her puppy nails.
She always waited for the groomer to take care of it for her, but it turns out that nail clipping isn’t actually a big deal.
Check out how to use dog nail clippers with a guard, which are great for beginners and experts to use.
They’ll help you trim your dog’s nails with ease, which saves you another trip to the groomer’s.
Check for Dull Blades
The handles are easy to find and sometimes contain a removable nail file for buffing.
Don’t underestimate the power of buffing after clipping nails—it makes all the difference with Maggie!
The rounded metal tips hold the blades, but the top half is what’s most important. It has an inner edge that acts as the safety stop so you don’t over-clip your dog’s nails.
Gently test out the blades before sit your dog down for their beauty treatment.
It should feel like brushing your finger against the side of an open pair of scissors.
Dull blades won’t clip the nails accurately and could end in injury.
If you think the blades are dull, sharpen them on your own or buy a new pair to ensure your dog’s safety.
Restrain Your Dog
There are a few ways to restrain your dog while you clip their nails, depending on how much they fight back.
The first is to get them to lay on their back between your outstretched legs on the floor. My dad did this with our family dogs for years and they never had an issue.
Maggie is a different story, so I trained her to sit while I hold each paw.
That’s another option for dogs who may feel overexposed or unsafe while they lie on their back.
Feisty dogs who can’t sit still in either of these positions when the clippers emerge should be held back by a second person.
They shouldn’t be able to jerk away from the clippers, since that could lead to an accident.
Start With Small Clips
You’ll get used to the sound and the pressure it takes to trim each nail without worrying about taking too much off.
Put your dog’s nail inside the guard, lightly pressing the tip against the safety stop.
That’s a good way to judge how far back you might need to clip, so you can clip a shorter distance if you like.
Hold your dog’s nail in place and apply pressure to close the clipper.
Be careful to watch for the tip of the nail! Sometimes it can fly off, which is why you might want to clip outside or vacuum afterwards.
When the nails get shorter, you’ll also be able to easily identify the quick, which is the blood vessel inside the nail.
It appears pink for white nails and is harder to find when the nail is black.
That’s where small clips come in handy.
As you trim the black nails, you might soon see a bit of gray or pink appear in the nail. That’s the tissue at the tip of the quick, so it’s a sign you can stop clipping.
Prepare for Bleeding
You might clip too far without thinking or your dog might jump at the last second.
Either way, clipping the quick is similar to trimming your own nails too close to the nail bed.
It’s not the most painful thing a dog can experience, but because the quick is a blood vessel, it bleeds dramatically.
The bleeding throws people into a panic.
In case it happens, prepare for bleeding by having supplies on hand.
You’ll need a towel or gauze to wrap around the foot before you apply pressure to the nail to get it to stop bleeding.
If it doesn’t stop bleeding after ten minutes, dip the nail in baking powder or flour, which helps clot the wound.
Make sure to hold your dog from licking it off or put a restricting cone on their neck until the wound heals over and you can wash it clean.
End With a Reward
It’s always a good idea to end a nail clipping experience with treats.
It shows your dog that they did a good job and there’s nothing to be afraid of.
If they don’t prefer treats or have dietary restrictions, indulge their favorite hobbies.
Go for a longer walk than usual, play tug, or cuddle with them.
It’s easy to use dog nail clippers with a guard, especially after you’ve practiced once or twice.
Be sure not to insert the nail into the clipper beyond the safety stop and you’re good to go.
Can I Use Human Nail Clippers On My Dog?
Never use a human nail clipper on your dog.
They clip at a different angle and aren’t made for the thickness of canine nails.
Can You File a Dog’s Nails Instead of Clipping?
Dogs can have their nails both clipped and filed, but one should not replace the other.
Clipping will cut back long nails that would otherwise press into the ground painfully with each step.
Filing buffs out the clipped nails so the edges are softer, but doesn’t do much for the length of the nail.
When Are Your Dog’s Nails Too Long?
If you can hear your dog’s nails on the floor as they walk, they’re too long.
They shouldn’t grow over the dog’s pads or touch the ground when the dog stands.
Otherwise, the dog experiences pain with each step.