Is your furry friend in need of a good pedicure? Your small dog’s feet may not be the first thing you think of when you're snuggling together, but those tiny nails need proper care and maintenance so your dog can look and feel its best.

The importance of good nail care

When humans get pedicures, it's typically to make our feet look better. When it comes to dogs, however, nail care is a necessity — not a luxury. If a canine's toenails are allowed to grow unchecked, numerous issues can arise. For example, long nails can push your dog's toes up or to the side, which can make it painful to walk. In elderly dogs, this could also lead to joint issues or other problems. Long nails can also catch on carpeting or other soft fibers and even cause your dog to trip.

Is it time for a pedicure?

Dogs that visit a groomer on a regular basis usually get their nails clipped during their appointments. However, if you have a dog that isn't on a grooming schedule, you'll have to watch (or listen) for signs that your pupper’s nails may be due for a trim. For instance, if you can hear your dog's toenails click-clacking on the floor, it's probably time to clip. A dog's nails shouldn't touch the ground.

If you frequently walk your small dog on sidewalks or along rocky trails, your pet can probably go about a month between nail trimmings, as these rough surfaces can naturally wear the nails down. On the other hand, dogs that spend their entire lives walking on soft grass and carpet may need their nails clipped more frequently

The tools you'll need

Clipping a dog's nails incorrectly can traumatize the dog and make it difficult for anyone to work with its paws in the future. That's why it's important that you use the following tools correctly:

  • Scissor-style nail trimmers or a nail grinder
  • Styptic powder (to stop any bleeding)
  • Treats

Clip, clip away

Some dogs are wary of having their paws worked on or even touched. So, be calm and patient while clipping your small pup's nails. Also, it would be wise to spend a couple of days touching and working with your dog's paws and introducing it to the tools you'll be using before attempting the actual nail trimming.

Here’s how to trim your small dog’s nails:

Step 1: Pick up your dog's paw and hold it gently but firmly. Push back any long hairs, so that you can see the toes clearly.

Step 2: Separate the toe with which you want to start. Position your forefinger on the pad of the toe and your thumb on top of your dog's toe. Gently push the nail away from your dog's foot with your thumb.

Step 3: Using the scissor-style trimmers, cut the nail at a 45-degree angle — but be careful to avoid the quick, which is the vein inside of the nail. On dogs with white or clear nails, you should be able to see the quick, which will appear pink. Avoid cutting into this pink part.

On dogs with dark nails, cut off the skinniest part of the nail first, and do not go past the curve of the nail. To be safe, it's best to clip in small sections, so that you don't accidentally cut into the quick. As you get closer to the quick, the interior of the nail should begin to appear chalky in color. The quick itself may appear as a black dot in the center of the white area.

Some people prefer to use a nail grinder rather than scissors. Just make sure to acclimate your dog to the noise and feeling before you begin a trimming session.

Step 4: If your dog has dew claws, make sure to trim those as well. Dew claws can grow so long that they curve into your pup's legs, which can be painful.

Step 5: When you're finished, reward your dog with a treat and lots of pets and praise.

All done!

Remember, your furry friend's nails don't have to be clipped all at once. Consider clipping one or two nails a day until you get used to it and your dog begins to trust that you won't accidentally harm its toes. Hopefully, with patience and perseverance, your pup will quickly accept nail trimming as part of its regular grooming routine.

 

AUTHOR BIO: Lizz Caputo is Content Strategist atFigo Pet Insurance — provider of the industry’s bestpet insurance plans. She is an animal enthusiast and owner of a rescued senior American bully.