Cutting a dog’s nails can be understandably a difficult task. But, cutting a squirming puppy’s nails, now that is a task on an entirely different level.
However, challenging that task, you can accomplish it safely with the correct information and tools. Nail trimming should be a part of every puppy’s grooming routine. It helps keep their paws in optimal condition.
You might have questions like what tools to use, how often should you cut your puppy’s nails, and how you can do so safely. Let us start with the article and find some answers.
- What Tools to Use When Cutting Your Puppy’s Nails?
- What Should You Know Before Cutting Your Puppy’s Nails?
- Tips to Get the Puppy Comfortable When Cutting Nails
What Tools to Use When Cutting Your Puppy’s Nails?
Here are the tools you should have handy when cutting your puppy’s nails.
1. Nail Trimmer
You can cut the pet nails using different tools like a nail clipper or scissors. A scissor should be enough for a puppy or small dog breed to get through their nails. Look into the quality and durable large-sized nail clippers for larger dog breeds.
2. Nail Grinder
If you are afraid of hurting the puppy during a grooming session or if the puppy is squeamish around scissors, you can try a nail grinder. You can also use the tool after the clipper to smooth out the rough edges. Grinders usually take more time than clippers to trim nails, but they are safer.
3. Styptic Powder
If you accidentally trim below the curve level, the dog’s nails can start bleeding. Thus, it is essential to learn where and how to clip nails. The styptic powder can help stop the bleeding.
What Should You Know Before Cutting Your Puppy’s Nails?
A dog’s nails contain a vascular structure known as the quick. It is a living thing with nerves and blood vessels. It is what supplies blood to the nails.
As good are your intentions with nail trimming, if you dip past the curve of the nail, you can possibly clip at the quick. This can be painful for the pet and result in bleeding. If the situation is not handled appropriately, nail cutting can be a traumatizing experience for the pet.
So, knowing where to cut the nails is equally important. It is best to talk to the vet and learn how to cut nails if you will be doing the task for the first time.
How to Identify the Quick?
It is easier to identify the quick if the puppy has clear or white nails. This is because the pink color of the quick will be visible through the nails.
If the puppy has black nails, you need to be careful. As a general rule, stick to the top part of the nail when trimming. 1 mm off the top is a good starting point. If your dog shows any sensitivity, if you trim any further, stop. You might be close to the quick.
It is best to use scissors or clippers meant for dogs. They are specially designed to cut through the animal’s tough nails effectively. Using a dull clipper can hurt the dog even if you are not close by to the quick.
How to Cut Your Puppy’s Nails?
Now that you have the right tools and are aware of the precautions to take, let us get into the nail cutting process.
- Step 1: Use your non-dominant hand to pick the paw. Place your thumb below the paw. Next, place your forefinger on top of the toe. Ensure you push back any fur so that it is not in the way of scissors or clippers.
- Step 2: You can extend the puppy’s nail by applying a little pressure on the top of the toe and pushing the thumb backward under the paw. You will now have a clear view of the nail.
- Step 3: Use the tool of your choice to cut straight through the tip of the nail. Remember to avoid the quick.
How to Add Finishing Touches to Your Puppy’s Nails?
It can be difficult for you to cut puppy nails with precision using scissors or clippers. The uneven and rough edges can get caught on to things like a blanket. When your dog aggressively tries to free itself, it can get a nail injury in the process.
You could also get hurt from those rough nails when playing with the puppy. Thus, adding finishing touches to your puppy’s nails can go a long way in protecting the pet and yourself.
You can use a nail filer or a grinder for smoothing.
1. Nail Filer
When using the nail filer, hold the puppy’s toe firmly. Then, run the filer at the tip of the nail. Also, run the filer from the back to the tip, following the nail contour. This will give the nails an overall clean look.
2. Nail Grinder
You usually get the option of bands with grinders. For example, a grinding band is ideal for trimming the nails. It takes time but effectively and safely trims the nails. Then you have the finishing tone band that is ideal for smoothing or buffing the nails.
Several cordless models are available that make little to no noise when grinding.
How Often Should You Cut Your Puppy’s Nails?
Nail trimming, for many dogs, is a stressful experience. You may have come across funny videos of dogs pretending to be hurt or falling when the nail clipper is brought close. But, this is a sign the dog is anxious about the grooming routine.
When you bring a new puppy home, start gently touching its paws from the first day. This can help ward off any sensitivity with feet touching. In addition, it would help if you begin to trim the puppy’s nails as early as six weeks. There might not be much growth to trim, but the routine can help them get accustomed to nail trimming.
You should trim a puppy’s nails once in three to four weeks. The growth rate of the nail will differ depending on the dog breed. A good rule to follow is that it is time for a trim if the nails make a clicking sound when walking on hard floors.
Start with the nail grooming sessions as early as possible. Then, keep up with the session monthly. The idea is to get the pet comfortable and associate nail trimming with a positive experience.
Why Should You Cut the Puppy’s Nails?
If you let the puppy’s nails grow long, it can unnecessarily put pressure on their feet. It can lead to a condition called the splayed foot. The condition is also referred to as open feet because the toes become separated. You can see noticeable gaps between the toes.
Your puppy is still in the growing phase. A splayed foot can lead to deformities in the future. Your dog may experience pain or balance issues while walking. Their feet can also be sensitive to heat and cold.
Overgrown nails are one of the causes of splayed foot, genetics and nutrition being the others. However, overgrown nails are the easiest cause to manage by following a regular grooming routine.
If you are entering your dog into competitions, well-groomed nails will be necessary.
How to Stop Your Puppy’s Nails From Bleeding?
If you accidentally cut around the quick, your puppy’s nail will start bleeding. Styptic powder is the preferred choice to stop the bleeding. Place the powder on the top of the nail and gently press. Ensure the powder sticks to the nail. A pea-sized amount should be enough.
If you do not have styptic powder handy, use cornstarch or flour. You can also gently dab the top of the nail in a soap bar. If the cut is not too deep, these techniques should stop the bleeding in a few minutes.
If the puppy’s nail continues to bleed even after several minutes, please contact the vet.
How often should you cut your puppy’s nails? The answer is three to four weeks because regular trimming can cause the quick to recede from the tips. With short quicks, grooming and maintenance become easier.
Tips to Get the Puppy Comfortable When Cutting Nails
If you get the puppy comfortable with nail cutting right from the start, it can save both you and the pet a whole lot of stress. Positive reinforcement with the cycle of treatment and praise would be the way to go.
Here are some tips that can help.
- Start touching your puppy’s feet gently right from the first day. Let it know that it is ok to have your hands around its paws.
- Let the puppy have a look at the nail clippers. If you use the grinder, let it see how the tool works. What sounds it makes or the vibrations it sends off.
- Start small. Touch the tool to its nails. Just perform the action, do not actually cut the nails. Give the puppy a treat. The puppy will learn to associate clippers or grinders with treats.
- Next, cut the tiniest bit of nail from the tip. Cut one nail a day. Give the puppy a treat.
- As the puppy gets comfortable, you can start cutting two to three nails a day, along with treats, of course.
- Repeat the process monthly, even if there is no need for nail trimming. The more you practice nail trimming and treat cycle, the better your pet will adjust.
- If the puppy is uncomfortable, you can use treats to distract it. For example, you can give it a small amount of peanut butter to lick when cutting its nails.
If these tricks do not work, you will have to ask another person to restrain the pet while you cut its nails gently. In extreme cases, you might have to use muzzles to restrain the dog.
If the puppy gets too nervous or aggressive or has had a bad experience with nail bleeding, you can seek service from professional groomers.
Nail trimming can often be a challenging experience for dogs. Therefore, it is best to get them comfortable with the grooming routine early on, with positive reinforcements.
Buy the right nail trimming tools according to your pet. If you are inexperienced, learn from the vet how to safely cut the puppy’s nails.
How often should you cut your puppy’s nails? The answer is three to four times a week during the initial months. Repeating the grooming activity and giving treats and praise can help develop a positive attitude towards nail trimming.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.