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Tips for Successful Nail Trims at Home: Canine Edition

Sarah Rae Murray is a writer, veterinary practice receptionist and an advocate for all animals.

Trimming your dog’s nails at home is not for the faint of heart. Nail trims can be tricky and some dogs exercise their flair for the dramatic when it comes to touching their paws. Sometimes it is simply easier, and a better experience for everyone, to have your pup’s nails trimmed at their veterinary clinic or groomer.  For those brave souls among us, trimming Rover’s nails at home can be accomplished without a big production. It may even prove to be an activity that strengthens your bond.

Here are six tips to set you up for nail trim success:

1. Know your dog:

Every dog is different, from the color of their nails to their vocalization. Some dogs wear their nails down from outdoor activity and others may have long nails with prominent quicks due to infrequent trimming. Do a little bit of research and tailor your trims specifically to your dog’s needs.

2. Select the proper clippers:

There are a number of clipper options for canine nails. The larger the dog, the larger the clippers and vice versa. If you have a very petite dog, such as a teacup breed, you may want to use small feline scissors for better precision. Once you find the right fit for your dog, ensure the clippers are sharp. Dull clippers can split the nail or pinch, causing your dog to associate nail trims with pain.

3. Have positive reinforcements ready:

Make sure you have a good supply of praise as well as your dog’s favourite treats on hand. The treats can also be used as a distraction tactic throughout the process.

4. Enlist backup:

If possible, have another person available to help hold your dog, pet them, feed them treats and distract them during the trim.

5. Pick up a container of styptic powder:

Unfortunately, nicking the quick happens. It’s how you react that makes the difference in how your dog remembers the experience. First of all, don’t panic. Attempt to give your dog a treat to counteract negative association and apply the styptic powder to stop the bleeding. If your dog isn’t too shaken, try feeding another treat and continuing with the nail trim. If it proves to be too much for today, try picking it back up tomorrow.

6. Don't force it:

A nail trim shouldn’t be a traumatic experience for you or your pet. It may take time to build trust in handling your dog’s feet, hone your trimming skills, and establish the experience as a positive one. It’s all about being patient and finding a sustainable nail trimming routine that works for both you and your dog.

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“The No Fear Way to Trim Your Dog’s Nails.” VetBabble. Web. 

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