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Does the idea of trimming your dog's nails send chills up your spine? After all, Giving poochie a bath - no problem. You might even be ok sticking a tooth brush in Lassie's mouth. But trimming doggie's nails is never going to happen!
Actually, giving your dog's nails a clipping is not nearly as difficult or freighting as it seems.
Nail trimming in dogs can be done very easily if you know how. It's always a good idea to watch someone else first (vet, groomer or friend) who is experienced in nail trimming.
Some dogs never need to have their nails trimmed. Many will naturally wear the nails down or the dried ends of the nails will simply flake away without you even knowing. But some breeds, especially Basset Hounds and Dachshunds will likely need your help in keeping the toe nails reasonably short.
There will be times when you accidentally cut a nail too short. It just happens sometimes, even with experienced groomers. The nail will bleed if you cut it too short, so just be prepared for that.
Get a good nail trimmer. Ask your vet or the clerk in the pet store which kind they recommend. Place the main part of the trimmer in the palm of your hand and the moveable part so that it is controlled by your fingers. You want to be able to see the small cutting blade that slides when you squeeze the handle.
Make sure you're not cutting from the top downward; but rather from underneath. Slide the opening over the end of the nail while staying in the whitish part of the nail. The pink area of the nail is the live part and has blood vessels throughout. Hopefully you'll be able to see where the pink part starts.
If your pooch has dark nails you won't be able to see any pink to know where the live part of the nail starts. Just do a little bit at a time with the dark nails. Check the end of the nail. The dead area usually is whitish and as you cut deeper into the end of the nail you will begin to see a dark area. That dark area is where the live part starts.
When you are ready to cut, make a smooth, quick squeeze on the handle while holding the trimmer steady. Don't try to "pop" the end of the nail off; it will fall away on its own. You can file the edges or just let the dog wear the nail smooth. Taking your dog for a walk on the sidewalk or street can help them file down.
Remember that at some point you will cut too short. When this happens, place a tiny piece of tissue paper tightly against the end of the nail and hold it for a few minutes. Better yet, have some cornstarch or flour available and put a small amount against the bleeding end of the nail, hold it there with your finger. This works right away. Or you can do nothing and the bleeding should stop in about five minutes. If it continues to bleed much more than that, give your vet a call.
Always remember, you can do this. Play with your canine's feet first to get them used to the idea. If you do it once a week, it won't seem like such a tragic event. If you can only do one paw a day, that's ok too. Relax and enjoy your dog!
Suzy Kanninno, webmistress for http://www.wdogtraining.com, is a dog trainer and groomer and operates http://www.wdogtraining.com, the premier dog training site on the internet. Check back for additional articles by Suzy.
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