Tips for Stress-Free Dog Toenail Trimming

If dog’s nails are left to grow too long, they can cause serious problems with their feet and even their back and hip joints long-term due to difficulties walking, so it’s important to get to grips with toenail trimming for your pet early on. 

It doesn’t have to be traumatic for you or your dog if done the right way and should just become another activity that you can do together regularly. However, it is a task which causes worry and upset so we have compiled our tips to help make it stress-free. 

Seven tips for stress-free dog toenail trimming

  1. Have the right tools

Preparing for toenail clipping before you start, will make it a lot easier for you and you are going to need to make sure you have the right tools available. The main thing you need to invest in is a pair of dog nail clippers. 

It’s important to invest in these and not go for cheap ones as you want to reduce the stress on your dog. Sharp and strong toenail clippers are the best choice. The cheap and blunt options will take longer and cause more issues so it’s really not worth skimping on these. 

You should go for the guillotine-style nail clippers. These have a hole that you put your dog’s claw into and then it cuts, making them very safe and much easier to use than any kind of scissor-style cutters. 

  1. Be prepared for accidents

Until you and your dog get used to the process, slight accidents are going to happen so make sure you have some styptic powder to hand to stop any bleeding. The bleeding can look worse than it will feel to your dog so try not to worry too much, stem the bleeding and move on. Having the powder to hand when you are clipping will make life much easier.

  1. Have treats ready

Have some treats ready to distract your dog from what you are doing and to make him feel better about what’s happening to him. They can also help to reinforce to your dog that the process isn’t that bad, and he will be getting treats each time it happens, meaning he might even look forward to having his nails trimmed next time. 

  1. Don’t cut down to the quick

The idea that you could hurt your dog is the most stressful part of clipping your dog’s nails so knowing the basic nail structure is key to avoiding cutting too far and causing your dog unnecessary pain. 

Some dogs have clear nails which are easy to cut, as you avoid the pink area of the nail, whereas dogs with blacker nails are harder to trim. If in doubt just make very small cuts and build up gradually. 

  1. Make sure your dog is calm

It’s important to ensure that your dog is calm and relaxed for this to work and part of that is being calm and confident yourself as well. Try putting him on his side, lying down and enlist the help of someone else to distract him with treats and petting if you can. Don’t forget that treats can help with this process as well and once you’ve done it a few times, he and you will know exactly what to expect. 

  1. Getting your dog used to it

The best way to get your dog used to having his nails trimmed without it being traumatic is to start when he is young and just do it frequently, so it becomes a regular activity that doesn’t bother him. 

If your dog is older then take your time to get him calm before starting and before getting all the tools out. Some people like to wrap their dog in a blanket to keep them calm during the process or enlist the help of someone else to support you. 

  1. Keep calm and to the same process

It’s as important for you to stay calm as it is for your dog, and he will pick up on any stress or anxiety from you straight away. Keeping calm and using the same routine, whether it’s with treats or the blanket, each time, will help your dog to realise its’ nothing to worry about. 

If you do find it too stressful to do yourself or your dog finds it incredibly stressful then you need to take your dog to the vet to have it done professionally on a regular basis. It’s important to know that leaving your dog’s toenails long will be even more stressful for him over time, so whether you do it, or the vet does, it just needs to be carried out regularly to make sure he doesn’t have any long-term problems with his feet or walking. 

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