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Toenail Trimmers for Dogs

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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There are several types of nail trimmers available for grooming your dog or cat. The type you choose should be based on the size of your pet – smaller pets have smaller nails and large dogs have large hard toenails.

Nail Trimmers for Cats

Most nail trimmers for cats are quite similar. They look like small scissors and each blade has a half circle indentation. The nail is placed on the open blade, and as the scissor closes, the blades come together and cut the nail. The nails of very young kittens are soft and you can use human nail trimmers.

Nail Trimmers for Dogs

Dogs come in all sizes and so do their nails. Even in young puppies, nails tend to be quite tough. There are three primary types of nail trimmers for dogs: guillotine style, Miller's forge and large nail trimmers.

  • Guillotine style: This style is quite popular, especially for smaller dogs, because of the ease in placing the nail. The nail is passed through a metal hoop at the end of the trimmer and the handles are closed. As they close, a metal trimmer slides across the metal loop and trims the nail. Some people find the squeeze-type closure of the handles easier to use than scissor-type handles. However, the blades need to be changed frequently and it is not effective on larger dogs.

  • Miller's forge trimmers: These trimmers are used mostly on small and medium sized dogs. The trimmer looks similar to scissors with blades that have semi-circular indentations. When the blades are opened, the semicircles make a circular opening into which the nail is placed. With the nail in position, the handles are closed and the nail is trimmed. Miller's forge trimmers are stronger than the guillotine style and they do not have blades that need to be replaced. However, the handles are far apart and can be difficult to operate for people with small hands.

  • Large dog nail trimmers. These trimmers are used primarily for large dogs. Like Miller's forge trimmers, they have handles similar to scissors and blades with semicircular indentations. However, the blades are thicker and stronger than any other trimmer and they separate far enough to allow large nails to fit. These blades do not need replacement, but this type can be clumsy to use on smaller dogs.

  • Another option to a traditional nail trimmer is the new "nail grinder" or rotary tool. This device is basically like a dremeltool that grinds your dogs nail to its desired length. It is easy and fast. The amount you take off the nail is similar to the above.
    When using the nail grinder – make sure you introduce it to your dog slowly. Pet him with it and let him get used to it. Then turn it on and give him a massage with it. Introduce it slowly and when he does well – give him positive reinforcement or a treat.

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