How to Choose Dog Nail Clippers
You may have noticed that your dog’s nails are very different from our human nails. So why use human nail clippers? Dog nail clippers have been built specifically for use with your dog’s unique nail structure, so they make the experience more comfortable for both of you. Below, we’ll take a look at why it’s important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed, how to choose a great pair of clippers, and whether to choose clippers or grinders for your pet.
Why Nail Trimming is Important
Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed and neat can help them in many ways. Longer nails can harm your dog, from making it difficult for them to walk without pain and even disrupting their hip and shoulder placement. Here are just some of the reasons that it’s important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed.
- Pain. There are a couple of ways that your dog’s overgrown nails may cause them pain. They might snag on things, pulling at their toes uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that’s the least of their problems. Longer nails that make contact with the ground when your dog walks can push pressure back into your dog’s nail bed. Imagine having a jammed toe, and then think about how unpleasant it would feel if your toes were jammed each time you took a step. Over time, your dog may refuse to walk due to the severe pain caused by this pressure.Your dog’s nails are also easier to split and damage when they are longer, which can lead to painful infections and other issues (if the split travels down to the quick).
- Alignment. If your dog is walking differently, chances are it’s going to throw off their entire body. Longer nails can force your dog to change how they walk, leading to changes in their hip, knee, shoulder, and spine alignment. Why is this a problem? Because it often throws off your dog’s center of gravity and balance. The result is that they are more likely to fall, less likely to physically exert themselves, and more prone to injury and pain. Older dogs especially need to be monitored for nail growth, as they are already dealing with some of these problems.
- Extreme Overgrowth. If left to grow for too long, your dog’s nails will eventually curve back around their toes and begin growing into the pad of their paw. Hopefully, your dog’s nail problem never gets this bad, but if you rescue a severely neglected dog, this is something you may have to worry about. Your dog’s nail growing into their paw can cause an extreme amount of pain, let alone other issues.
- Splayed Foot. Sustained periods with overgrown nails can lead to splayed feet, deformities, and injured tendons and muscles. Traction will be reduced, making it easier for your dog to fall. Trimming your dog’s nails every few weeks (or when you notice they touch the ground) can help avoid some of these issues. Keeping on top of the trimming cycle can help your dog avoid pain and continue being playful and active!
Tips for Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
Trimming your dog’s nails is very different from trimming your own. You have to understand the structure of the nail and be precise about where to stop cutting, otherwise, you could hit the quick and cause your dog pain and a lot of bleeding.
Here are some tips for trimming your dog’s nails. By following these tips, you can make sure to avoid injury and make nail trimming easier for you and your pets.
- The quick is the pink center of your dog’s nails. The quick contains blood vessels and nerve endings that help the nail grow. If you cut into the quick, expect a lot of discomfort and blood. It can be traumatic for both of you, so be careful.
- To avoid hitting the quick, remove small portions of your dog’s nail at a time. Dogs who have overgrown nails have bigger quicks, as they have grown over time to fill the nail.
- If you are trimming a dog with overgrown nails, trimming over time is the best approach. Removing large portions of the nail at once is not advised, especially in dogs with overgrown nails (and therefore longer quicks). Trim a little bit at a time over several days and weeks. When part of the nail is removed, the quick will recede, giving you more room to clip off excess nail material.
- You can find the quick by shining a light through lighter nails. If your dog’s nails are darker, look for a white ring at the end of a clipped nail. This signifies that the quick is close and that you should stop clipping.
- Patience and your dog’s comfort are key. Take the time to relax your dog and get them into the clipping mindset before you approach with the tools you need.
Clippers or Grinders?
Whether you choose to use clippers or grinders for your dog’s nails is entirely down to what your dog will tolerate. Let’s examine the benefits and drawbacks of each of these nail trimming tools.
Clippers require more manual work, and they remove large bits of nail more quickly. It’s a fast, quiet process that usually won’t give your dog much anxiety (unless they’ve had a bad experience before).
However, clippers also make it too easy to cut the quick of your dog’s nails. By removing a large part of the nail at once, there is more of a chance that you will cut through the quick of the nail and cause your dog to bleed.
Clippers are easy to use, quicker, and quieter. However, they are not as safe as a grinder and may lead to serious injury if not used properly.
Grinders are loud, but they allow you to slowly grind away nail material. This makes it more difficult to cause your dog injury, as you won’t be able to cut right through the quick. It is still possible to harm your dog, but the grinder usually moves so slowly that you aren’t risking any major injury as long as you’re careful.
It takes a long time for a grinder to trim down your dog’s nails, but taking it slow isn’t always a bad thing. The major drawback to grinders is that they are loud. Your dog may not like the noise or the vibration feeling when you begin to use the grinder. Anxious dogs will shy away.
A good rule of thumb is that grinders are better for larger dogs, where clippers work best for small and medium breeds. Additionally, the noise is always the first factor to consider. If you think your dog isn’t going to like the loud grinding noise or the vibration, using a grinder isn’t the best idea.
Overcoming Nail-Clipping Anxiety
Unfortunately, most dogs will likely have some negative association with getting their nails trimmed. Whether they’ve been groomed incorrectly before or they just don’t like having their paws touched, the anxiety associated with dog nail trimming is an issue that many dog owners face when it comes to their furry friend.
You have to have patience, and that’s the most important thing. If your dog has had bad nail trimming sessions in the past, it will be slow to trust and more difficult to convince when it comes to nail clipping. Make sure that you are taking the time to try and get them comfortable with the clippers and the entire process as a whole.
Go slowly. Don’t suddenly spring nail trimming on your dog. Don’t bring the clippers out and then try and get your dog to approach, as dogs who are very anxious about trimming will run and hide. Instead, approach your dog without the clippers in sight. Sit down with them, pet them, and give them a lot of kind words and gentle encouragement.
When your dog is relaxed and comfortable (or even asleep), begin by touching your dog’s paws. Get them used to having their paws handled before the clippers even come into the picture. Treats can help at this stage as well, warming them up to a positive and relaxed association with the process.
When you have calmed your dog, you can bring out the clippers slowly. If your dog wants to sniff them, allow her to check them out. You may not always get a negative reaction, and letting her know what’s going on is always going to allow her to be more comfortable.
Next, slowly begin clipping the nails down, taking care to avoid the quick. Award your dog with soft words, pets, and treats as you go through the process. Never hold them down or try to force them to be still, as this can be traumatizing for them.
A little patience can go a long way when you’re trying to get your dog used to having their nails clipped. Keep them aware of what you’re doing, but be gentle and show them that you aren’t there to harm them. With enough work, your dog will soon learn that nail trimming isn’t a punishment, but a special time for you to bond!
What to Look For
With so many different options, it can be difficult to pinpoint the correct clippers for your dog. Here, we’ll talk about your different options and how to choose good clippers from all of the options available.
Type of Blade
There are two types or styles of clipper blades that cover most of the available nail clipper options. These are scissor clippers and guillotine clippers.
- Scissor clippers have a small, crescent-shaped blade area. Place your dog’s nail inside the crescent and squeeze the clippers to remove small portions of the nail at a time. These clippers are more likely to come with guards to prevent you from cutting into the quick. However, the squeezing motion can apply pressure and damage your dog’s nails if the blade isn’t sharp enough.
- Guillotine clippers offer a small circular space. Hold your dog’s nail in the space provided and use a trigger or squeezing motion to move the blade forward, cutting the tip of your dog’s nail in the same way that a guillotine would work. The motion is often quick and clean, but it comes with its drawbacks. These clippers won’t have a guard, and it’s easier to hurt your dog because you can’t control the motion of the blade as well. However, larger dogs seem to have an easier time with these types of clippers.
Choose the type of blade that works best for you and your dog, but keep in mind the risks of using each type.
What is the blade made of? Most clippers are made of stainless steel. This type of steel won’t rust as easily, is better at holding an edge, and is strong enough to cut through thick layers of the nail. Steel is a nice alternative, but it isn’t as strong or sharp.
Thicker is also better. A 3.5mm-thick stainless steel blade is more durable and stronger, making it easier to use overall. Choose a thick stainless steel blade to get the best results from your clippers.
An ergonomic grip is usually made of rubber or another soft material. It’s molded to the shape of your fingers so that you can easily grip the clippers and use them without your hands sliding around.
Make sure that you are purchasing clippers that are big enough for your needs. Often, the pictures on product listings can be deceiving. Always make sure that you check the product dimensions so that you have some idea of the real size of your clippers.
Keep in mind that bigger clippers will be better for larger dogs, but they won’t work well at all for smaller dogs. It might damage your smaller dogs or cat’s claws if you try and use larger clippers.
Your Dog’s Size
The size of your dog also plays a large part in determining which clippers you should get. Most clippers will spell out what size dogs they are best suited for, so make sure to heed this recommendation. The side of the clippers and the size of the blade may be different for each type of dog, and clippers meant for a large dog won’t work on a small dog (and vice versa).
The guard is a piece of metal that allows you to cut off only a small portion of the nail at a time. This guard is usually attached to the backside of the clippers and gives you a guide so that you don’t cut too deep and nick the quick of your dog’s nails.
If you are at all worried about injuring your dog, you should purchase nail clippers with a guard. It will help keep you and your dog more comfortable with the nail clipping and trimming process, as it will keep it relatively painless for them.