Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is extremely important for both their health and comfort. Allowing toenails to grow too long can cause discomfort and even foot and toe problems like infections and irritation. Some dogs that run and walk on hard surfaces like concrete and pavement wear down their nails naturally and therefore, do not require trimmings. But a lot of dogs don’t get enough natural wear of their toenails, and need to have their nails trimmed every now and again.
Working on getting your dog to be comfortable with his feet being handled will help the whole situation greatly. Starting this when your dog is a puppy is even better. But no matter how old your dog is, slowly begin by getting him used to having his feet touched and messed with. Treats are a great bit of encouragement for this. You can start by gently rubbing his toes while you’re lounging on the couch together. Gently grab his paw and lift it a few inches into the air at random times. The more comfortable he gets to the sensation of having his paws handled, the easier the trim will go.
Remember to be careful to mind the quick (that’s the blood supply to the nail). It can be tricky to determine exactly where it is, but you can play it safe by trimming small bits at a time, working your way up. However, if you do happen to nick to the quick, never fear. Simply get a clean cloth and apply pressure until it stops bleeding. And don’t forget to give Fido a scratch behind the ear and reassure him that all is well!
Make sure to use nail trimmers that are designed for dogs. Human clippers will not work and will hurt your dog. Dog nail clippers are sold in most major stores and are easy to find.
To start, gently but firmly, hold your dogs paw in your hand and hold a single toe securely between your thumb and forefinger and begin trimming off tiny bits at a time. If you feel you are getting close to the quick, stop and move on to the next nail. Keep going, calmly and confidently to keep your dog feeling relaxed. Reassure him often that everything is okay.
When the job is done, reward your brave dog with lots of hugs, kisses, and maybe a treat or two! The more often you trim his nails, the healthier they will be and the more comfortable with the task Fido will feel.
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