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Dog Nail Trimming: 3 Things You Can Do So Your Pup Won’t Hate It 

| Published on January 2, 2024

Reviewed by: Dr. Theresa Fossum

Reviewed by:

Dr. Theresa Fossum

Meet Dr. Theresa (Terry) W. Fossum, DVM, MS. Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS – a remarkable animal lover whose passion for animal care and innovative solutions has left an indelible mark on the veterinary world. As the CEO of both Phoenix Animal Wellness and Epic Veterinary Specialists, she's ensuring dogs and cats receive the highest level of care and compassion.Read more

For many dogs, nail trims bring about lots of fear and anxiety. Your pup doesn’t understand that you’re doing it for their safety and health – all they know is that you’re coming at their feet with a pair of clippers! Dog nail trimming doesn’t have to be scary for your pup as long as the right techniques are implemented.

iHeartDogs asked Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM, CTCVMP, to give us some tips on how to make the process easier. Also known as “The Caring Vet,” Dr. Selmer is a Certified Veterinary Food Therapist (CVFT) who uses principles from Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) to treat his patients.

Below, you’ll find Dr. Selmer’s advice on teaching your dog to stay calm during nail trims:

1. Start young. Teaching a puppy to relax is way better than trying to teach an adult dog that already has anxiety about getting his/her nails trimmed. Begin by getting the puppy to relax, then start to touch the paws and nails, then try an emery board, etc. You get the idea – start with getting your dog used to the paws and nails being handled and then progress slowly. With some work, your dog may not despise the nail trims.

2. Pick the right tool. For dogs that are fearful or nervous about getting their nails trimmed, food rewards can be very useful (if your dog is food motivated). Trying a different tool may also help. Some dogs do not like the sound of a dremel (rotary tool), the sound nail clippers, or the vibration of an emery board. If your attempting to trim your dog’s nails and she’s freaking out, stop, relax and try again another time with a different tool. The choice of tool all depends on what your dog will tolerate.

Related: The 24 Best Grooming Tools For Dogs

3. Take it slow. You have to be really careful when trimming your dog’s nails to avoid hitting the quick (that is the nerve and vein that run in the nail, you can see it in some dogs – it depends on the nail color). If you cut the quick, you will cause pain and that will stop you dead in your tracks. If you are unsure of where the quick is, then just take the nail tips off or try an emery board or rotary tool. You may even want to just trim one nail per day – only do what your dog is comfortable with.

If all else fails, you may want to leave nail trims to the professionals and take your pooch to a reputable groomer. You can always wait during your pup’s appointment and offer some praise and a treat once it’s done! Remember, dog nail trimming doesn’t have to be a scary experience for them or a stressful experience for you.

We want to thank Dr. Selmer for sharing his wisdom with us. If you want to learn more about taking a holistic approach to your pet’s healthcare, check out his book The Best of Both Worlds: An Advanced Guide to Integrative Veterinary Care for Happier, Healthier Pups. You can also check out his website and follow him on Facebook.

Image Source: Dr. Selmer

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