Trimming claws

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Trimming claws

Post by Eleanor on Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:27 pm

A lot of dogs dislike having their claws trimmed, often due to a past experience when somebody has clipped into the quick (the blood vessel feeding the claw), causing pain. A lot of owners are also uncomfortable and nervous about clipping their dogs’ claws because of this reason; this nervousness can in turn be picked up by the dog, increasing the dog’s own anxiety. The best way to avoid this is to stay calm and learn how to clip claws properly before attempting it.

Very often, a dog’s claws will be worn away by walking, particularly if he receives a lot of pavement/hard surface walking, and may not need regular trims. A dog walked regularly on grass, however, is likely to need his claws trimmed more regularly.

How do I know if my dog’s claws need cutting?

When your dog is standing naturally, the ends of the claws should be level with the pads, but not quite touching the ground.

A dog’s claws are constantly growing, so if they aren’t kept at the correct length they may start to curl sideways or under, which can cause the nail to press into the pad, making walking painful for the dog. Long nails can also slip on smooth surfaces or get caught and break. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, check his claws!

If a dog’s claws get too long, the quick will very often lengthen. This means that the claw will need to be trimmed gradually – as the claw is trimmed, the quick will slowly recede.

How to cut a dog’s claws:


  • It very often makes the process easier if you soak the claws in warm water for a few minutes beforehand. This softens the keratin.



  • Lay your dog down on his side when he is relaxed, with a few treats nearby so that he can associate claw trimming with something good.



  • Lean across your dog, with one arm against his neck and the other across his side, facing his paws – don’t put your full weight on him though, as this could restrict his breathing or hurt him. If you’re not sure about this, you can try having somebody else hold him still instead.



  • Carefully but firmly hold the toe of the claw you want to clip, pushing any fur aside and inspecting it to see how much of the nail needs to be taken off.  



  • Using your nail trimmers or guillotine, trim a small amount at a time off of the end of the claw, angling it so that the cut end is parallel to the floor when the dog is walking. You can also use a claw-sander, rather than clippers or guillotines. These are available from most large pet shops, as well as online.



  • It can be useful to file down the sharp edges of the cut nail with a nail file to prevent injury to the dog or other people through scratching.



  • Don’t forget to check the front dewclaws (the two claws – one on each leg – further up)! These are prone to getting caught and snapping when they get too long!


How do I know how much of the claw to cut away?

If the claw is pale, you will probably be able to see the quick, which is the pink area running through the middle of the claw. Be careful not to cut into this, as it will hurt and bleed!

If, as you are cutting the claw, the centre of the nail starts to feel spongy or softer, stop cutting – this means you are close to the quick. The same goes for when you begin to see a darker spot in the middle of the nail.

For dogs with dark claws, it can be easier to look on the underside of the nail. You should see a groove running from the tip of the claw to the base; in the deeply grooved area at the end of the claw, it’s safe to clip. There is no quick in this area of the claw. If you see a paler, spongy grey or white area at the cross-section of the claw (where you’ve cut it), you’re getting close to the quick and should stop.

What should I do if I cut into the quick?

First of all, don’t panic! It happens and it only hurts for a little while. You can stop the bleeding with styptic powder, available from most pet shops or online. If you don’t have styptic powder, you can also use flour as a substitute. To use styptic powder/flour, soak up as much of the blood as you can, then take a pinch of the powder/flour and pack it against the end of the claw.

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Eleanor

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Re: Trimming claws

Post by Caryll on Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:54 pm

Good post!

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Re: Trimming claws

Post by Eleanor on Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:59 pm

Thank you!
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