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How to Trim Your Dogs Nails with a Nail Grinder or Dremel Tool

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Dog's nails continue to grow and trimming them can be a challenge for some dog owners. This depends on the dog, his personality and the dog owner's ability to trim the nails.

There are various styles of nail trimmers available on the market. For details on how to trim your dog's nails using the traditional trimmers such as the Guillotine style, Miller forge trimmers or the Large Dog nail trimmers - go to How to Trim Your Dog's Toenails.

Below – we will give you information on how to trim your dog's nails using a nail grinder. The nail grinder is essentially a dremmel styled tool – a small electric oscillating rotary tool with a belt of sandpaper. They are commonly used by handyman to sand, grind or cut wood in a workshop. There are pet nail grinders styled after these tools that include a protective plastic shell around the grinder that allows a pet nail to enter and thus be grounded or shortened.

How do use a nail grinder

1. Ideally, Start young. Get your dog used to touching his paws and give him positive reinforcement when he lets you massage and manipulate the paws and nails. The earlier you start clipping or grinding your dog's claws, the better used to it he will be. Frequent trims when your dog is young will help diminish any fear. Have your veterinarian show you how to do it the first time.

2. Start slowly and work up to it gradually.

3. Learn the anatomy. Within the center of each toenail is the blood and nerve supply for the nail called the quick. In clear white nails you can see the quick, a pinkish area in the middle of the nail. Unfortunately, the common black nails do not allow an easy view. Cutting or grinding into the quick will result in pain and bleeding. You cannot see the quick on dark colored nails, making them more difficult to trim without cutting into the quick. Dark colored nails should be ground in several small increments to reduce the chance of cutting into the quick.

4. Determine how much needs to be trimmed. Before you start grinding, determine how much needs to be trimmed. The basic rule of thumb is that the nail, which curls downward, should be even with the paw pad. Whatever hangs over must be clipped.

5. Get started. Some dogs will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you grind their nails but many require some form of restraint. You may want to sit on the floor with your pet, hold your pet in your lap, or have someone hold your pet on a table. If your dog has light colored nails, eyeball the quick and aim a few millimeters away from it. If you cut into the quick, referred to as "quicking," it will hurt your dog and the nail will bleed.

6. Introduce the nail grinder to your dog. Pet him with it and make it a positive experience. You may want to do this for several sessions before ever introducing it as a nail grinder or before turning it on.

7. Turn it on. Turn on the nail grinder and pet your dog with it. You may also want to do this over several sessions before using it on your dog's nails.

8. After your dog is used to the nail grinder turned on - use it to trim his nails. Grind the nail below the quick on a 45-degree angle. In dogs with dark nails, make several small grinds instead of one large one. Grind very thin slices off the end of the nail until you see a black dot appear towards the center when you look at it head on. This is the start of the quick that you want to avoid. The good news is that the more diligent you are about trimming, the more the quick will regress into the nail, allowing you to cut shorter each time. Trim nails so that when the animal steps down, nails do not touch the floor.

9. Although you will take great care not to hurt your pet, sometimes accidents happen and you will cut or grind into the quick. Have silver nitrate products on hand – you can get them at your veterinarian's office or pet store. You can also use flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. If that doesn't work, apply a light bandage for about 15 minutes. If the bleeding continues, call your veterinarian.

I hope this gives you a better idea on how to use a nail grinder or dremmel styled tool on your dog.


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