It’s possible to trim nails without you or your pet being stressed out. The trick to getting them comfortable with the idea is to introduce things gradually, over a week or two — even longer if needed.
Start by handling your dog’s paws. A day or two later introduce the trimmer. Keep progressing through the stages, repeating each activity — rewarding progress with treats and praise. This will help create a positive association with nail trimming and they may actually start looking forward to it! If you or your pet have struggled with nail trims in the past – try starting over from the beginning. It can also help to mix up the variables: move to a different room in your house, change the style of trimmer, and reward with higher value treats.
Next, it’s time to identify where to make your cuts. This is important – if you cut into the sensitive area of the nail, called the “quick”, it will bleed and be painful. For dogs with light colored nails, you can identify the sensitive area by spotting a pink area inside the upper part of the nail. If you can’t see it, no worries, there’s another easy way to tell – look at the underside of the nail for a triangular indentation – anywhere beyond this area can be safely trimmed.
When cutting, take your time. It’s okay to make multiple small cuts instead of one large one – heck, you can even make those cuts over multiple days if your dog prefers going at a slower pace. Cut at an angle, not straight across. After trimming to the desired length, you can round off the sharp edges with two small vertical cuts.
To finish things off, try giving the trimmed edges a nice smooth finish with a file or rotary tool. If you use something like a Dremel be careful not to get hair tangled in the spinning head! It’s always a good idea to have clotting powder on hand just in case you do cut into the quick – baking soda can also work in a pinch. If this happens – don’t panic, everything will be just fine. Just place the nail in the powder to stop the bleeding.