TRIMMING DOG NAILS
By Pat Gilbert
Pat has been asked: “I have a terrible time doing my dogs' nails and wonder if you
could share some tips on making the job easier? I use a dremel and have been shown how to do it correctly.”
When trimming dog nails, it is important to get your dog's feet off the floor. Doing toe nails is part of the grooming experience. Therefore put him up on the grooming table with a grooming arm and loop to steady him. It is much easier to work with dogs when their feet are off the ground.
I don't consider doing toe nails an optional thing. I ask very little of my dogs. Tolerating pedicures is one of the things I do insist upon. They get done every time my dogs are groomed. Nobody puts up a fuss. They don't need to like it. They do need to tolerate it.
Toe nails need to be done regularly. If they are let go too long, the toes and feet will break down. They will also have very sore feet and toes.
I go by the click test. If you can hear them click, then they are too long.
I personally use a dremel tool on my dogs. I used toe nail cutters in my salon. In both cases I use what I call the horse shoeing method. I fold the front foot under and back so I am looking at the bottom of the foot. I am facing backwards looking at the rear end of the dog, with my shoulder against the dog for support. I have my arm over the leg and the foot up between my forearm and body. I do the same with the back feet. This method doesn't produce a lot of squirming. I touch the toe nail several times with the dremel. I don't hold a steady pressure as that builds up heat and burns. It also will hurt like the devil. Some use a stocking on a long coated breed to hold the excess hair back. Why not? I hold the excess hair back with my hand. Mind you, I have had a lot of practice. I have literally done hundreds of thousands of toe nails.
If I am using a toe nail cutter, then I snip bits off and continue until I get where I want to stop. When in doubt, just take the hooked part off and leave the rest. I always make sure I have Kwik Stop on hand, just in case. Murphy's Law. If you don't have it, you are guaranteed to make a nail bleed.
If you make pedicures part of your normal routine, you and your dog will be much happier. Just don't make it the last thing you do. I intersperse unpleasantness such as toe nails and scaling teeth with more pleasurable things such as brushing and belly rubs.
Important - Someone mentioned that groomers may tranquilize your dog. I had my Chez Phydeau Salon for years and never used drugs. That doesn't mean someone else wouldn't. I would call in advance for a toe nail appointment. Tell them you will wait. If they won't let you wait, then run for the hills. Toe nails take at the most five minutes. I include very difficult dogs in that time estimate. Take your dog in at the scheduled time. You can help or if they/you prefer wait in the lounge or in the car. It's pretty hard to drug a dog down and get him back up in five minutes. I am reasonably sure that the average groomer does not have that sort of inhalation medical equipment.
As I said, we don't ask our dogs to do very much in their lives but, I really believe that your dog's nails need to be a part of your normal grooming routine. The nails should be done at a minimum once a week.