Dog Care – Trimming Nails

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 40,298
    Dr. Candy Olson demonstrates how to trim your dog’s nails.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi! Im Dr. Candy Olson at Greenbriar Animal Hospital. We're shooting a video with a bunch of clips on how to take care of your dog at home. This is Butter. She is going to be helping us out with this little demonstration. This is my assistant, Melissa. We're going to show you how to trim nails and a couple of things to be looking for. One of the important things when you're trimming your dog's toenails is you want to have stuff ready, in case dog moves, you cut a little short and there is a little bit of blood. Best thing to have is some of the stuff which is a clotted stuff that will stop the bleeding and it's got a local anesthetic in it, so that it will numb it, so it's not going to sting. That's the very best thing, but this is only an occasional concurrence. One of the things that work really well, is just have a little bit of plain flour and a paper towel. What you're going to want to do is have it ready. If you cut a nail too short and there is a little bit of blood, what you do is take your -- what they call quick stop here or your flour and you're going to make a little pile of it on your paper towel. Now, she doesn't have a bleeding toenail but we're going to pretend that this is your bleeding toenail here and what you're going to do is you're going to blot it a couple of times on the paper towel and then you just going to press it a bunch of times into your little pile of flour or the stuff. Believe it or not, the flour trick works really well.

    Now, one of the things that you need to do is once it stopped bleeding you don't want to settle down and let her run around on that because it's going to take the flour right off. You want to hold on to her for a few minutes. But that works really well and the last thing that you want to do is have to try and run around, and get that together if she is already got a bleeding toenail. Much better to get it out and ready and then not needed. There are two kinds of nail trimmers that are readily available for dogs. This is the kind that we don't recommend because it has a tendency to pinch the nail. It also cuts more than you need. It's real hard to see on here where to cut. This kind is much better and they have bigger size for big dogs. Most dogs, not all, have five nails on the front. There are four regular ones and then there's what they called a little dewclaw, here's the one right here off to the side. Some dogs have two dewclaws and some dogs have them removed as puppies. In the back, there's always just the four but this dewclaw is the hardest one to trim just because it's awkward to get out and it's important when you're doing the nail trimming to have the dogs who like being as normal a position as possible. So, it's not uncomfortable for them. So, you want to hold it either like this or sometimes it's easier to bend it back a little bit like this, so you can see what you're doing.

    The other thing is when you're trimming your dog's nail you want to make sure that she is not moving when you're trimming the nail itself because it's very easy to slide up and trim it too far. Now, for his nail you can see right there -- I don't know if you can see that are not like right about there as where that pink ends you can see it goes down there and then it's white after that, can you see that? Excellent! So, what we're going to do is we're going to trim it and leave just a little tiny bit of that way down there. If they've got pink nails, it's real easy to see and so you can see now that it's cut, there is just a little bit of that way down the end. If you can see the pink it's easy.

    With the black nails, you can't see anything. So, the best thing to do is just to take a little bit off the nail and if they still look long come back the next week and take a little more off. It's much better to do the nails very frequently in just little bits than to try and cut them back too fast. The other thing that you can do is to take your dog out and have it walk on a lot of cemented pavement, works as a little bit little nature's emery board and it will help smooth those nails off. It also helps to have the dog up on a slippery surface like this. Bathroom counter, on top of the washing machine, something like that and you'll need somebody to help. Notice, Melissa is kind of alternating, kind of scratching her and patting her and holding her tight, keeping her on the table, giving her a little bit of a break, it also helps. If you have a dog that is nervous about this to do it just before something they really like, just before meal or just before walk. If they're really into food you might take a little bit of food and set it where they can't get at it but they can see it. They're going to be looking, food, food, food, not paying a whole lot of attention to what you're doing with the nails.

    In the back, there is just the four, so let's kind of turn her this way a little bit so that we can see. You want to do the same thing as the front as far as looking at the nail but again you don't want to hold the leg way out here to either be upfront or turned back a little bit. Now, here's the nail that's black and so we're going to get that out there and we're just going to take a little bit off of it and if it's long then, like I said, you can come back and do it again later. The other thing that helps when you're doing this at home is to do it often rather than make it be a bigger deal and do all over nails. Do one foot every week so that it's real quick just a few minutes, and you're keeping up with them because you probably need to be trimming the dog's nails about every month or so and so that's a good way to do it.

    If she gets tons of exercise on cemented pavement she will need to have her nails done not at all but most dogs do. So, that's how to trim your dog's nails. Next, we're going to go over how to handle if your dog breaks the toenail and it's bleeding.