Why Do We Clip Dogs Nails?



Like in humans, dog nails are constantly growing. While some dogs, particularly heavy dogs, keep their nails filed naturally through walking on hard surfaces, many dogs don’t and require regular clipping. Even heavy dogs often need their dewclaws (the little ‘thumb’) clipped as this does not file on the ground.

In the dog’s paws, they have many proprioceptors, sensory neurons which tell the brain where the ground is. Overgrown nails can often push the dog’s paws off the surface of the ground, causing the brain to become confused with where the ground is, and affecting the dog’s balance and confidence. Overgrown nails are also very painful so the dog’s nails must be clipped regularly.

Clipping the dog’s nails are part and parcel of being a dog groomer. Often many groomers are very nervous about cutting the nails, to begin with, so it’s important to focus on this section of the module so you feel that bit more confident when you first cut a nail.

Dogs’ nails can be clear or black, or even both on the same paw. The dog’s nail is not all just nails. There is a blood vessel that grows in the core of the nail. As the nail grows longer, so too does the blood vessel, though not as fast.

The blood vessel is called the ‘quick’. It is full of nerve endings and if you cut the quick you will cause the dog a lot of pain.

You must avoid doing this, though black nails are always much harder to cut than clear nails.
Sometimes you will have abnormal quick growth. by this I mean you may be clipping the nails on a dog, and they may all have short quicks and long nails, meaning you can cut quite a bit of nail off, but there may be one nail that actually has a long quick.

How Often Do I Need to Trim a Dog’s Nails?

The answer depends on the dog, but you can judge very easily on how often nail clipping is needed by asking the dog owner when did the dog last have its nails clipped. To determine when it’s time for a nail trim, a good rule of thumb is to trim a dog’s nails if they touch the floor when he is standing. You can tell this to your clients, and if they hear the dog’s nails tapping off tiled or wooden floors when walking, then they are too long.

When should I begin Trimming My New Dog or Puppy’s Nails?

Often vets or dog breeders will tell dog owners to wait until they are older to clip the nails, but in reality, it should be done right away! You should recommend to puppy owner clients that they begin handling their dog’s paws from the moment you bring him home. Hold a dog’s paws and play with his toes several times a day.
Nail Clipping Tools

Before you begin a dog’s nail trim, be sure you have the right equipment. The right choice depends on the size of a dog’s nails and your own preference,

1.Guillotine style
2.Scissors style
3.Pliers style

Styptic Powder

The styptic powder can stop the bleeding in dogs very quickly and is fairly easy to apply.
Push the dogs to nail into a small bit of styptic powder, and then use your finger to push the powder firmer and more compact onto the nail, then keep a hold of the dog’s paw for about a minute to allow the bleed to stop (and to avoid the dog pushing the powder off the nail on the table).

How Do I Clip?

As you can see in the above picture, there is a very very thin membrane around the quick. you can often see this membrane with the naked eye on clear nails. You aim to cut up to this membrane but no further.

There are some nerves in the membrane so the dog will feel this but it will not cause pain, more of a strange feeling.

When you cut the dog’s nails, you should take lots and lots of little clips. This will minimize the chances of hitting the quick.

1) Hold your nail clippers over the nail where you plan on cutting (the first cut is to remove the ‘beak’ tip so even with a black nail, you should be able to see if the dogs nail has a beak to cut)
2) Apply light pressure
3) If the dog does not respond, pinch the clippers firmly and quickly to cut the nail
4) Inspect the nail – can you see the membrane?
5) If not, repeat, cutting the front, back and both sides of the nail in a 1mm cut at a time.

Dog’s nail related complications:

1.Cracked toenail:

Cracked toenails are sometimes caused by overgrown nails, sometimes caused by poor diet, sometimes poor health, and sometimes immune deficiency.

If a dog loses or cracks a nail in your parlor, soak in warm water with disinfectant, dry thoroughly, wrap in medical gauze, cover in vet wrap, and contact the dog’s owner to bring them to the vet to have the nail and nail bed check.

2.Nail fungal Infection:

Fungal nail infections are due to fungi accumulation from the ground. It’s important to detect nail infections as soon as possible, to avoid the spreading of the infection to other areas of the body or other pets.


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