Choosing a Nail Trimming Option
Cutting dog nails don’t have to be a harrowing or expensive experience. If this is something you as a pet owner simply do not want to have to deal with, and the easiest (though more expensive) way is to take your pooch to a groomer or a vet. My mom does this with her miniature pinschers because they are so bad about their nails that they require sedation.
The cheaper dog nail trimming option, but one that may require more effort and training on your part, is what we do: trim nails at home. For this option, you need to invest in some good clippers or a grinder. You will also want some quick stop powder or quick stop gel on hand, just in case you accidentally cut into the quick. The quick is the part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves; when cut, it bleeds profusely. The powder or gel is applied to the quick to stop the bleeding almost instantaneously.
You may want to leave the choice of clippers versus grinder up to your dog. When we first got Kai, we cut his nails with dog nail clippers. He hated it. We would sit on the floor with him, hold his paw at a comfortable level for him and clip. We never cut his quick, but he still snarled and snapped. He simply did not tolerate it. We switched to a grinder and he actually loved it. He would come running to get his nails trimmed – holding up his paws to whenever he saw or heard the grinder.
Because Kai tolerated the grinder, we trimmed KC’s nails the same way. She was less than thrilled about the grinder. We would have to lay her down on her side and try to hold her still while trimming her nails.
Dog Nail Anatomy
After you determine which option your dog prefers, you will want to learn a little bit about the anatomy of the nail. The quick is a softer kind of tissue inside the hard shell of the nail. The hard shell is what you trim. It’s analogous to our own human nails – if we trim our nails too close to the nail bed, the nail will bleed and feel painful. Kinda like when new parents try to trim their babies nails for the first few times, it can take a little practice to not trim your pup’s nails too much and cut their quick.
With Dobermans, it can be a little tricky to trim because their nails are black, so you cannot see the quick inside the hard shell. (With dogs – and cats – that have white or light brown nails you can see the quick inside, making it much easier to avoid cutting the quick). Hold the clippers or grinder at the angle that is aligned to the slope of the nail and then trim. The grinder is a bit easier because it goes slowly and your dog will let you know when you’re getting close by trying to take their foot out of your hand. With clippers, we recommend cutting a few millimeters at a time until you start to see the soft inner quick (once you begin to see it, stop trimming).