Nail clipping is an important attribute of the overall exercise of dog grooming. Regular trimming helps decrease the chances of nails breaking and bleeding profusely, or curling and digging into the dog's feet. When you hear that distinct sound of nails hitting the floor, it means it's the time to clip them. Never put off the same till your next visit to the vet.
How to Trim Your Dog's Nails?
You can buy a nail clipper specially designed for dogs from your pet supplies store. A strong claw cutter is recommended if you have one of those big dog breeds. You should also keep a small file handy to file down the jagged edges. Additionally, it's always wise to have a styptic pencil around, just in case you damage the dog's nerves whilst trimming his nails.
The Dog Nail Anatomy
It is very important to understand the structure of a dog's nail. The nail has a hard outer covering and a soft inner portion. The hard part protects the inner soft part of the nail, which contains blood vessels and nerve endings. A closer look and you will see faint pink-colored nerves beneath light colored nails. If your dog has black or dark-colored nails though, the nerves will be virtually invisible. That will make it all the more difficult for you to trim them.
While clipping, you need to keep checking for a dark spot in the middle of the nail. This is where the nerve endings start, and clipping beyond this point may hurt the dog. In case of dark nails, you need to look out for the pale third inner circle, which is where the nerves start. You also need to clip the dewclaws that are located on the inside of the front legs of the dog, as these may curl in and dig into the skin, thus causing a lot of pain.
You need to help the dog get relaxed and make him lie down on a table. You can place a rubber mat over the table to ensure that the dog doesn't slip off. It's better to have another person helping you, especially if your dog is too big or fidgety. If the dog is used to this activity or is pretty calm, you can carry out the task single-handedly.
You also need to make sure that the clipping tool is sharp enough to avoid any kind of pain to the dog. You should begin clipping the dog's nails from under the claw and go upwards. You should position the clipper just a little above the pink tissue. Once the clipper is in the right place and your dog is steady, you can press firmly and the nail will be clipped.
If needed, file the remaining nail to a shorter length. Even this has to be done very gently and slowly as to avoid damaging the blood vessels and nerves.
If you have cut off the nerve ends by accident, quickly apply pressure with styptic powder or pad. If you do not have styptic powder, baby powder and cotton ball will do. Do not wipe off the tip of the nail after the bleeding stops. Do not allow the dog to lick the wound as it may give rise to infection. Also, the dog may get hyperactive due to the pain; you will have to help him relax. If bleeding continues for more than 5 minutes, you should immediately consult a vet.
You may have to trim your dog's nails once or twice a month. Long nails are likely to get stuck in the carpet or sofas, and break. This will cause a lot of pain, bleeding, and may even lead to infection. Also, ingrown nails do not paint a healthy picture of your dog. A little attention on your part will save you and your dog a lot of trouble.