Cutting Dog Nails : When & How?

Cutting Dog Nails 1Cutting Dog Nails

Cutting dog nails can be turned into a quick and easy task by following these simple steps.

Golden retriever dogs who get lots of exercise on cement surfaces may wear their nails down enough with a do-it-yourself dog nail grooming program that they don’t even need clipping.

But dogs who are older and less active, or who don’t spend much time on concrete, will need regular nail care.

Dogs should walk silently. If you can hear your dog’s nails click against the floor or pavement, it’s time for a pedicure.

Consequences of Not Cutting Dog Nails

A Golden Retriever dog’s paw is an arrangement of four flexible, strong toes and five tough pads. A dog that’s walking properly should be walking squarely on those pads.

If the task of clipping dog nails is neglected and his nails grow too long, the only way the foot can compensate and retain balance is for the toes to spread apart, causing the foot itself to become flattened and spread out.

That can eventually destroy the entire structure of the foot, effectively crippling your dog.

Neglecting regular nail care can lead to serious dog toenail problems, too.

Very long nails can grow back into the dog’s pads, causing your dog enormous pain. A dog ingrown toenail is no laughing matter.

Clipping dog nails regularly is important because nails that are allowed to become long are also more prone to splitting.

Split nails are very painful to your dog, and often require surgical removal of the remainder of the nail to permit proper healing.

Golden Retriever Dogs with long nails can have difficulty walking on hard or slick surfaces. Those long nails will also scratch your wooden floors and get caught in carpeting, which can sometimes rip out a toenail (ouch!).

Cutting Dog Nails Means the Dewclaws, Too

Dewclaws are the Golden’s fifth toes, located above the feet on the inside of the wrists.

Dewclaw removal for a puppy is sometimes done if he’s heading for a career as an active hunting dog. But most Goldens keep their dewclaws, so you’ll need to trim them whenever cutting dog nails comes up on your agenda.

Since they don’t touch the ground, they can never wear down through exercise. Neglected dewclaw nails sometimes grow in complete circles and can even penetrate into the toe pad.

Tips On Cutting Dog Nails

Cutting Dog Nails - how to cut dog nails that are too long Is there something special you need to know about how to trim dog nails?

The key to trimming dog nails without crushing the nail and leaving ragged edges is to use specially designed dog nail clippers.

Dog toenail clippers come in two basic styles. One type has two blades and works like a special pair of scissors (pictured on the right).

The other style (pictured on the left) has an oblong opening that the nail fits into and a single blade that cuts the nail when the handle is squeezed.

They’re called guillotine nail clippers because they make a sharp, clean cut like a guillotine. Either variety works quite well for cutting dog nails.

You can also find electric dog nail clippers on the Internet, or possibly at your pet supply store. You can even Dremel dog nails if you’d like try grinding instead of cutting. Each method of cutting dog nails has its pros and cons.

Cutting Dog Nails — How Much Do I Cut Off?

When cutting dog nails, you want to trim just the end — the hook-like part of the nail that turns down.

Try to avoid cutting the “quick,” the pink area in the center of the nail.

This pink interior, called the quick or nail bed, contains blood vessels and nerves.

These blood vessels extend about three-fourths of the length of the nail, and are surrounded by the tough nail.

If the nails are kept short by frequently cutting dog nails, the tiny veins stay short.

If a Golden Retriever dog’s nails are allowed to grow uncontrolled, the veins and nerves keep growing.

If you’ve let your dog’s nails get much too long, you’ll have to shorten them gradually.

Carefully clip off just a fraction of an inch every few days.

Cutting dog nails gradually like this will allow the veins and nerves to slowly recede.

If your Golden Retriever dog’s nails are light colored, you’ll be able to see the vein when you look at the nail from the side.

If your Golden Retriever happens to have a few dark nails, your job is a little tougher.

It helps if you hold a flashlight beam directly under the dark nail to help you see the lighter line of the vein when cutting dog nails.

If you’re still not sure where the quick is, clip just a bit off the tip of the nail.

Wait a few days and then clip some more.

It’s much safer to trim a small amount of nail often, than to take big cuts off neglected nails all at once.

What If I Cut Off Too Much When Cutting Dog Nails?

Uh oh. Now you’ve done it. That last little cut nicked the quick, and now the toenail’s bleeding. What do you do now?

Don’t panic, and don’t put yourself on a guilt trip. You’re probably more upset than your Golden Retriever dog. Don’t let that little drop of blood put an end to your brave first attempts at cutting dog nails.

Most of the time, a minor cut to the quick will stop bleeding on its own. To speed up the process, you can dab a bit of styptic powder on the nail. If that still doesn’t stop the bleeding, applying the powder along with some gentle pressure for a few minutes will do the job.

Start Cutting Dog Nails At An Early Age

Most dogs aren’t as fond of hand holding as humans. That can make trimming dog nails quite an ordeal.

The easiest way to get your dog used to having his nails trimmed is by playing with his feet when he’s a puppy.

Some breeders make it easier for you by clipping their puppies’ nails weekly until they go to their new homes. That makes it a cinch for you to keep cutting dog nails on a regular basis, without a fuss.

It’s Never Too Late To Start Cutting Dog Nails

What if you adopted an older dog, or you just never got around to making your puppy comfortable with pedicures? Don’t despair. It’s never too late!

If your dog is fussy about having his nails cut, first handle his feet during your play sessions and even after brushing him. Use lots of praise, and keep these sessions really short. You don’t need to handle all four feet each time. Handling just one, with lots of praise, gets the point across.

As your dog gets less tense when you handle his feet, help him get used to the nail clippers. Let him smell them, and tell him what a brave dog he is. Don’t try to use them yet.

After a week of this nice, easy contact, brush your dog, praise him, let him sniff the clippers, and then clip one toenail, cutting off only the sharp point. Praise as you cut, then quit for the day.

The next day, do two nails, and two the day after. If this goes well, you may be able to do a whole paw the following day.

Praise with each little snip. Reward him at the end with some soothing brushing and a fun game.

Maybe it’ll take you several pedicure sessions to get them all done, but who cares? Clipping dog nails this way was easy and painless for all concerned.

Cutting Dog Nails Yourself — “I Just Can’t Do It!”

In spite of all this great advice, if trimming dog nails is still just too doggone scary for you, don’t neglect them–let somebody else deal with it.

Most groomers and veterinary clinics will be happy to help you out. The small fee they charge is priceless compared to your Golden Retriever’s health.

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