How to cut dog claws correctly

dog claws

Claw care means health care. Long claws hinder the dog when running and make it easier for him to find enough grip on smooth surfaces and slide. Even worse: claws that are too long can even cause pain to the dog and, in the long term, damage the musculoskeletal system and lead to posture problems.

There is also the risk that the dog will injure itself when scratching or that the claws will grow in and become infected. It is not uncommon for fur noses to try to shorten their long claws themselves – for example, by biting off. The dangerous thing: In the worst case, the entire claw can be torn out. There is a risk of inflammation – and severe pain.

How do I know when the claws need to be trimmed?

It is not necessary to cut the claws for every dog. The claws often wear out on their own on asphalt and hard surfaces – practically paw care on the go. However, if the dog goes for a walk primarily in meadows and in the forest, this effect is no longer given. The length of the claws should be checked regularly.

But when are the claws too long? It’s easy to find out:

When your dog is standing, his toes should not touch the ground. When holding up your dog’s paw, the claws shouldn’t be longer than the ball of its toe.

Do you hear a click when the dog walks across the parquet or the tiles in the kitchen? In this case, the claws are almost certainly too long.

Tips for clipping your dog’s nails

If you want to cut your dog’s claws, you need four things: a pair of dog nail clippers, lots of light, a steady hand and, above all, a calm dog.

Before cutting its claws for the first time, it should therefore be ensured that the dog is used to touching the paws by humans and that it does not feel uncomfortable. Otherwise the four-legged friend could jerk its paw away while cutting its claws. There is a risk of injuries. This can be trained, for example, with the classic “give paw” training.

If you feel insecure yourself, this feeling will spread to your dog as well. In this case you should leave the claw care to a professional (e.g. your veterinarian or the dog salon you trust) or have someone show you how to cut your claws.

Claw scissors and other tools for cutting claws

The most widely used tools for claw care are dog nail clippers. They should be sharpened well and fit securely in your hand. Claw scissors work on the same principle as nail scissors for humans. The difference is that the dog scissors should exert even pressure on the claw from all sides so that it is not crushed, nor should you rely on the dog to remain completely still during nail care. Claw scissors therefore often have round cutting surfaces, the shape of which was modeled on a claw.

In addition to these claw shears, there are guillotine-like models in which the individual claw has to be pushed through an eyelet. Here too, the aim is not to crush the claw while it is being cut. Such claw clippers are only recommended if the dog is relaxed while the claws are being trimmed. If the four-legged friend is restless, another cutting variant should be selected. Otherwise the claw could be cut too deep.

Electric claw grinders are also available for insecure masters. The risk of injury is lower here than with claw scissors. Claw grinders work like a file. Because of the noises a grinder makes, it is advisable to get your dog used to the machine slowly.

Trimming dog claws properly

The easiest way to cut a dog’s nails is when the dog is lying on its side, relaxed. This is the best way to arrange the light sources so that the pink inner workings of the claw, the nerves and blood vessels are clearly visible. This is important so that no bleeding occurs during paw care. The right lighting is particularly important with dark dog claws in order to reduce the risk of injury, because a dog’s claw is made of horn, which is very well supplied with blood almost to the tip. If too much is cut off the nail, it will cause bleeding. It also hurts the dog! Not good prerequisites for the dog to continue to behave in a cooperative manner.

In general, the claws should be shortened gradually. This means that a small slice of about 1 mm is cut off at a time until the optimum length is reached. There should be a distance of at least 1 mm to the blood vessels – this avoids unwanted bleeding, especially if your dog has black claws, as it is almost impossible to see the blood vessel here. The risk of injury is correspondingly high. 

What if it bleeds after cutting your nails?

Unfortunately, even with the greatest care, it can happen that you cut a millimeter too much and it starts to bleed. Don’t panic and despair now!

Try to stop the bleeding depending on how strong it is and calm your darling down. Stop the bleeding with so-called clip stop hemostats. If you don’t have any hemostatic agents on hand, you can also use some ice.

In the case of a small wound, the bleeding should stop after 30 minutes at the latest, but if this is not the case, it is advisable to see your vet. Since it is still an open part of the body, infection from dirt should be avoided.

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