Toe nail trimming can turn into a very emotional event for dog and person. One cut too far and the nerve is hit, blood flows, and trust is broken. If you see it from the dog’s perspective, why are you cutting off the end of his toes and causing so much pain? WHY??
But keeping those toe nails short is a matter of health. If toe nails are too long, toes begin to bend and buckle. The effects creep up the foot and into the legs. Toe nail tips should rest just above the floor when the dog is standing relaxed.
Now there is lots of advice on how to start your pup off right, but I rarely see these dogs. I see the dogs that will not allow anybody near their feet; not now, not ever!
My tricks include being as quick as possible with the task, distracting the dog with treats and commotion in their face and possibly a soft muzzle for my safety. No matter how overgrown the nails have become I only take the pointy tips off. This serves to never cut into the quick and cause more emotional damage and the blood vessel in the nail will back off after a few weeks making it possible for the next toe nail trim to be a little shorter. The nails did not get out of hand over night, neither will getting them back into shape. It will take several visits.
People ask me how much time between trimmings? Every dog is different, but a program to get them back to a good length should include a visit once a month. Write it on a calendar if you need to or ask me to send a reminder email.
If you want to try working with a nervous dog at home, try cutting only one nail a day or so. You probably can’t cut them in a particular order while doing this stealth method, so make a map of which nails were done and hang it on the fridge. I have seen this method work and each cut that doesn’t end in disaster helps make the process easier for both of you. If you find yourself losing patience, walk away. It’s not worth the harm your anger may cause. Remember, your dog still does not understand why you are cutting her toes off.
If the quick does get cut, it bleeds like crazy. Don’t panic! The bleeding will stop. You can put some styptic powder onto a cotton pad and hold it on the wound for a minute to staunch the flow. Flour or corn starch can replace the styptic.
Use sharp nail cutters that are the right size. And pay attention to the whole cutter when you’re squeezing it. The handles might pinch down on an adjacent toe. I have not used the grinder style toe trimmers yet, but I’ve heard good things. The only downfall it seems is the buzzing sound some dogs won’t tolerate.
You can always drop in at Lucky Dog for a toenail assessment and trim for only $10.