Nail Trimming

How To Trim Nails…
(Without Having To Call The Vet To Find Out How To Control Hemorrhaging!)

By Dr. T. J. Dunn Jr. DVM
(Permission granted by Dr. T. J. Dunn Jr. to reprint this article from The Pet Center)

Nail trimming in dogs, called a PEDICURE, can be done simply if you know
how. It is a good idea to have a vet tech, veterinarian or dog groomer show you how to trim nails first. Then, once you have an idea of what NOT to do you will be more successful in getting the job done. Not all dogs need their nails trimmed, either. Many will naturally wear the nails down or the dried ends of the nails will simply flake away without you even knowing. But some breeds, notoriously Bassets and Dachshunds, may need our help in keeping the toe nails reasonably short. And just count on cutting a nail too short on occasion. I’ll bet I have trimmed tens of thousands of canine and feline toe nails and once in a while I do get too close and the bleeding starts! That’s when having some clotting powder or solution will save the day!

Get yourself a RESCO nail trimmer, they seem to work the best. There are other trimmers available but the RESCO is the easiest to learn with, too. Place the main part of the trimmer in the palm of your hand and the movable part is controlled by your fingers. You should be able to see the small cutting blade that slides when you squeeze the handle.

The nail should be cut from underneath, not from the top downward. Slide the opening over the end of the nail while staying in the whitish part of the nail. The pink area of the nail is the live part and has blood vessels throughout.

When you are ready to cut, and you are sure you aren’t at the live, pink part of the nail, just close your eyes and SQUEEZE HARD!!!
Just kidding. To cut the nail, be decisive and make a smooth, quick squeeze on the handle while holding the trimmer steady. Don’t try to “pop” the end of the nail off; it will fall away on its own.

This nail has been cut about as far back as is possible without causing some bleeding. You can file the edges or just let the dog wear the nail smooth. Some people will cut the nail back until there is a slight amount of bleeding in an attempt to shorten the nail back further. Not a bad idea to keep some Quickstop Powder on hand in case you do accidentally cut too short.

On the dark nails where you can’t see any pink to know where the live part of the nail starts, you can check the end of the nail. The dead area usually is whitish and as you cut deeper into the end of the nail you will begin to see a dark area. This dark area is where the live part starts.

What To Do If You Cut Too Short!!

Place a tiny piece of tissue paper tightly against the end of the nail and hold it for a few minutes. Better yet, have some Quick Stop Powder available and put a small amount up against the bleeding end of the nail. This works right away. Or… do nothing. The bleeding will stop in about 5 to 7 minutes. Any more than that…give your veterinarian a call.