Dear Porky and Buddy,
My big old black lab, Pluto, does not run around outside as much as he used to and I am noticing that when he walks on the hardwood floors in my house I can hear his nails clicking on the floor. I suppose I need to figure out how to trim his nails. But, I don’t have a clue even where to begin. Any tips?
You’ve been lucky with Pluto, as many dogs, even those that go outside regularly, need at least occasional nail trimmings. As a general rule, a dog’s nails should be trimmed when they just about touch the ground when he or she walks.
If Pluto’s nails are clicking on the floor, it’s definitely time for a trim, as that is actually uncomfortable for him.
Dogs were never meant to be tap dancers.
Since you don’t have a nail trimming ritual established, your best approach may be to take him to your groomer or vet and ask to watch while she does it, so that you can get a general idea.
Before that, how about spending some time with him massaging his legs and paws so that he might be more accepting of being handled that way.
What you will learn is that there are two basic styles of nail clippers for dogs: a scissors type and a guillotine type. They both work equally well, so choose the design that you’re most comfortable with.
When you are ready to try it on your own, it is best to find a helper.
Make sure Pluto is lying down or even on his side. Take his paw in your hand, separate out his toe and hold it firmly, but gently. Hold your trimmer so that you’re cutting the nail from top to bottom at a slight angle, not side to side.
Insert a very small length of nail through the trimmer’s opening to cut off the tip of each nail.
Don’t trim at a blunt angle as you want to maintain the existing curve of the nail.
Cut a little bit of nail with each pass until you can see the beginning of a circle—still nail-colored—appear on the cut surface.
The circle indicates that you are nearing the quick, a vein that runs into the nail, so it’s time to stop with that nail and move on to the next.
If your dog has black nails, and we are guessing that Pluto does) the quick will not be as easy to see, so be extra careful.
It is much better to cut off a little less with each session and do the trimming a little more frequently.
Once the nails have been cut, you use an emery board to smooth any rough edges.
Then give him lots of hugs and a treat for being a good dog.
You may have to reward him after each toe at first so that he associates this weird new ritual with fun treats.
Remember the basic rule of dog training: Bribes are good!
If you do hit the quick, Pluto will probably yelp and might get upset.
End the session for the time being, but not before applying styptic powder or corn starch to the bleeding nail tip.
Apply a little bit of pressure as you press the powder into the wound to make sure it sticks.
The bleeding should stop in a few minutes.
Remember that Pluto is not used to this and he may be very fearful, making this job difficult even with a helper.
Don’t force it on him.
Take him to his veterinarian or a professional groomer if you have to, at least until he begins to get used to it.
It’s important to keep his nails under control now that he is older—but not at the expense of ruining your friendship with him.
So cough up the money to have someone else do it.
Find your new best friend at the Be My Valentine Adoption Day, February 14 from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. at the PetSmart store at Lowe’s Plaza in Oswego.
Check out our Facebook page for updates on who will be there for you to fall deeply, madly and passionately in love with!
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Located at 110 W. Second St., Oswego, NY.
Phone: (315) 207-1070.
Email: [email protected]
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