A Guide to Clipping Dog Nails

Clipping dog nails can be one of the most difficult parts of grooming duties because many dogs simply do not like anyone – even their owners – to handle their paws. That general fear is usually made worse because there’s often a broken or overgrown claw or other difficulty that prompts a dog owner to head out and get some nail clippers. If you do need to clip your dog’s claws, follow this guide so that you are more familiar with the job and what’s involved.

Getting the Clippers
There are two general choices in nail clippers – the guillotine type and the scissors type. Dog groomers far and away recommend the guillotine clippers. This type of clipper has a hole at the top to fit the edge of the nail. It’s fairly easy to judge exactly how much of the nail you want inside the cutting part of the clipper. Then, it’s a matter of a quick, but forceful squeeze of the handles of the clippers and the sharp edge at the top of the hole takes off that portion of the nail.
Start Young
Some dogs are naturally laid back and seem to be fairly trusting with anything their owners might do. For the rest of the dog population, it’s important to introduce your dog to clippers at a very young age. That’s the best way to remove any fear – a puppy or young dog can be trained easily. Try to have very brief cutting sessions where you clip only a couple of nails. Praise the dog lavishly and offer a treat for good behavior. Repeat the process until you can get through the whole process.
Restraining Your Dog
This can be a task, particularly if you have a large, strong pet. Consider a sitting position for your dog, perhaps on a grooming table so that you can stand and gain some leverage. Lean over your dog to get to each paw, with much of your body’s weight over the dog. Tethers don’t work well for paws unless the dog is used to the process and doesn’t struggle too much. Clipping dog nails may be a two-person job. Make sure both people are very familiar to the dog.
What to Clip
The first piece of advice is not to forget the dew claw. That’s the one that’s just up and on the inside of the paw, hanging loose from the other claws, which are at the end of the paw, much like a person’s fingernails. The veins and nerves in a dog’s claws are contained in the area called the quick. The problem is that some dog’s claws are so dark that the quick – normally a lighter-colored mass inside and near the tip of the claw – can be difficult to see. Sometimes, dogs have different colored nails. You may want to cut a lighter-colored nail first, where you can see and avoid the quick and then cut the dark claws to the same point. Or, simply cut very small bits of the dark claws until there is no curved overhang that could interfere with walking or running.
Have Silver Nitrate Available
Make sure when clipping dog nails to have silver nitrate on hand. Silver nitrate is the main ingredient in styptic pencils and can stem the flow of any blood if you happen to cut the nail too close to the quick. You can also use flour and pressure. Normally, a dog’s claw will stop blooding in 5 to 10 minutes.



Pros and Cons of Using Dog Grooming Clippers
An enormous selection of electric dog grooming clippers are available for pet owners who wish to groom their dogs at home, but in some instances these grooming tools are best left to the professionals. Before you invest in a pair of pet clippers, check out their pros and cons here first.

Pros of Using Dog Grooming Clippers
The biggest pro associated with the use of electric dog grooming clippers is that they can quickly trim your dog’s coat in a record amount of time. Here are a few more pros which pet owners report from the use of clippers:

Pet clippers can be outfitted with a selection of blades, so pet owners can use one pair of clippers to trim multiple pets in the home with different types of fur. Multiple blades can also be used to create a number of cuts and styles.
Clippers are easy to transport and handle. Pet owners can bring clippers with them on trips, vacations etc., just in case the family dog needs a touch up away from home.
With the right care, clippers can last for many years – making them a worthwhile investment.
Cons of Using Dog Grooming Clippers
The biggest con associated with the use of dog grooming clippers is the noise. Some animals are eternally freaked out by clippers and may develop extreme anxiety and even display aggression if clippers are used on them. Other cons which should be taken into consideration before buying clippers include:

Clippers do require consistent maintenance, including oiling, cleaning and sharpening the blades, or they will quickly fall into disrepair.
If the wrong types of blades are used, dog hair can be pulled by the clippers (causing pain or pinching) and the clippers can even nick or scratch the skin.
Alternatives to Using Dog Grooming Clippers
Alternatives to pet clippers include pet shears or grooming scissors, and some dogs with wire coats can be professionally hand stripped (a painless process which removes dead hair in the coat). Scissoring even the smallest of dogs though can take a lot of time – and unless you have been professionally trained on how to scissor a dog’s coat the results can look a little rough.

If you want your dog’s coat scissored, consider hiring a professional pet groomer for the job – and if you want to clip your dog at home with dog grooming clippers, and you have never used clippers, talk with a local groomer about techniques you can use to give your dog a beautiful, and safe, cut – or for fun, consider taking a class in pet grooming.
Pet Shampoo and Professional Grooming Services
Most groomers have a preference over the type of pet shampoo they use on their furry clients – but they may also have a selection of shampoo products which you can choose from. Here are the most common types of shampoos for pets which you may find at your groomers; to help your groomer choose the right type of shampoo for your pet, make sure you discuss with your groomer any issues your pet may have with allergies or diagnosed medical conditions.

Standard Pet Shampoo Products
The standard pet shampoo products which your groomer will use typically includes deep cleansing pet shampoos that are formulated to clean pet fur without drying out pet skin. Regular shampoo products for pets may also include conditioning ingredients to reduce tangles – groomers enjoy using these types of shampoos and then following up with a conditioning treatment for extra soft and flowing dog hair – and ingredients that will add a nice and long lasting gentle scent to your dog’s coat.

Hypo-Allergenic Pet Shampoo
If your pet has sensitive skin, or is prone to allergies, then you may want to request hypoallergenic pet shampoo for your pet’s grooming visit. Hypoallergenic shampoos created just for pets contain no perfumes or dyes and they often include beneficial ingredients which may support healthy skin such as proteins and Vitamins A and E.

Herbal Pet Shampoo
Herbal pet shampoos contain plant ingredients which may include tea tree oil, lavender, ginger, lemongrass or citronella. Each of these herbal ingredients can help to support a healthy coat, and they may have added benefits too such as natural anti fungal or antibacterial qualities, natural sweet smelling aromas and natural pest repellent properties.

Medicated Pet Shampoo
A groomer may apply veterinarian prescribed medicated pet shampoos if your pet has been diagnosed with external parasites or a skin condition which requires treatment; non-prescription medicated shampoos may also be used to kill external parasites such as fleas and ticks.

The most common types of medicated shampoos that are used on pets are for the treatment of ringworm, yeast infections on the skin and external mites. In most cases, the pet shampoo applications must be repeated multiple times and it is important to discuss your pet’s prescribed treatment with the groomer so you can schedule all of the necessary appointments your pet will need.