For those of us who are a little nervous about cutting an animal’s toenails, grooming day can be a little stressful. This is especially difficult when your dog has black toenails! Luckily Belle has white nails, making it easier for me to see the quick of the nail.
Try Toenail Scissors with a Guard
I used to use scissor-type toenail clippers that didn’t have a guard on them, and it made me very nervous to cut Belle’s toenails. Not only does she squirm and wriggle, but she complains loudly that I am just killing her!
She complains so loudly about it sometimes, that the one time I actually did cut the quick of her nail, I didn’t believe her. I felt very badly about that when the blood droplets came out of that nail. Needless to say, that was the end of toenail clipping for that day.
I have found that I feel a lot better about cutting her nails with the toenail clipper that has the safety guard on it. Granted it only lets you cut a little bit at a time, and if you let your dog’s nails grow too long, it just means you have to cut them more frequently. But the guard does prevent you from cutting in to the quick of the dog’s nail.
With Long Nails, Cut a Little At a Time More Regularly Until At Good Length
If I let Belle’s toenails go for too long without trimming them, I have learned that I can’t cut a large amount off at once. Instead I have to cut them more frequently (like once a week) so that the blood vessels in the nails will start to retract, allowing me to cut the nail to a good length after a few weeks. If you cut off too much from the nail at once, the nail might split, or you might cause your dog to bleed. If you are unsure of what to do with long nails, it is best to consult your veterinarian.
I found a great webpage by Washington State University that shows step-by-step photographs of how to properly cut your dog’s nails.
Hire a Professional Groomer
I still prefer to have Belle’s nails cut when she goes in for a bath (a little treat I give myself every once and a while), but when I have to do it, the toenail guard really helps. Cutting her nails outdoors really helps too. She’s a lot more distracted by squirrels and such, and doesn’t notice it nearly as much. If I can do it quickly, it’s usually not a problem.
This article by Vicki DeGruy on Dog Owner’s Guide gives some great advice on clipping the nails of a dog who gets extremely nervous. She also talks about the anatomy of the nail.