Trimming your dog's nails can be a terrifying prospect, but it's something that needs done. An un-trimmed nail can be painful for the dog, can curl into their toe pad, and can turn into a real problem. Plus, longer nails mean more scratches - both on you, and your home.
Still, people put off the act in fear of not doing it right. Here are a few tips to nail trimming:
1. Use the proper tools.
Never try to trim a dog's nail with human clippers or scissors. Always use nail clippers designed specifically for dogs, as they're going to get the cleanest cut.
2. Look for the quick
Dogs have a vein running into their toenails, known as the quick. On dogs with white nails, the quick is very easy to see - it's the darker pink part running through the middle. For dogs with black nails, it can't be identified until the nail is being cut. When trimming, do slight amounts at a time and watch for a grey dot to appear in the center of the trimmed nail. That's the bottom of the quick, and when you can see it, you've cut far enough.
Tip: The more often you trim your dog's nails, the more the quick will recede into the nail. Thus, with regular maintenance, you'll be able to trim the nail farther back as time goes by.
The reason many people make their dogs bleed when trimming their nails is because they trim too far, and accidentally cut into the quick. While it's painful to the dog and can bleed profusely, it's not always as bad as it looks. Keep some styptic powder on hand in case you accidentally trim too far. This will stop the bleeding almost instantly, and numbs the wound.
3. Watch for aggression
Some dogs absolutely hate having their nails cut, especially if they had a traumatic experience with it at some point. If you can successfully trim one or two nails, you'll likely be fine. If the dog is attempting to attack you when trimming, it may be necessary to take them to a professional groomer. Another option is to use a Dremel tool instead of clipping, which allows you to grind down the end of the nail instead of cutting it off. Some dogs prefer this.
Above all, remember to stay calm and comfortable when trimming. Your dog feeds off your emotion, and remaining calm is paramount to keeping them calm.