Giving your dog a home pawdicure isn’t as complicated as it might seem at first. All you need are a few supplies that you may already have and a little bit of knowledge.
Before you start, get all of your supplies together in one place.
You will need:
Dog nail clippers (size appropriate for your dog)
Kwik stop (you can also use cornstarch or flour)
Nail file or dremel tool with a 120 fine grit sanding drum (Not the various grinding stones)
Panty hose (if your dog has a long coat)
Some dogs have had bad experiences when having their nails clipped. If your dog has ever had the quick of the nail cut into they may be very sensitive about their feet. If this is the case you may need an assistant or it might be necessary to take them to a groomer.
You may choose to use only the dremel tool or if the nails are really long, clip and grind them. Your dog may also only tolerate the clipping or only grinding. As every dog is an individual, you’ll just have to start with one method and see how they get along.
I prefer to clip long nails first, because the dremel can actually burn the nail if allowed to grind too long. If your dog has white nails it will be easy to see the pink quick (blood vessel) running through the center of the nail. Be very careful not to clip this. But if you do, don’t panic! Stay calm and speak to your dog in soothing (not babying) tones, then apply a powder to stop the bleeding. Your first reaction may be to scoop them up and comfort your baby. But resist this urge, because it will cause your dog to think this was more traumatic an event then it really was.
Now, if your dog has dark or black nails it’s going to be a little more difficult to see the quick. But it can be done. If you look at your dog’s nails you’ll see that closer to the end of the nail is much thinner. Then somewhere closer to the paw the nail will become thick and almost look like it has a filling. This is the quick. Do not trim the thicker part of the nail. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Your dog’s nails may look thick or “filled” all the way to the end. If the nails are short you may not need to clip them at all. But if they’re longer you’ll have to trim a tiny bit off at a time. When you get closer to the quick the middle of the nail will become even darker, stop there.
The other option is to completely grind the nails. When you grind them you can see the dark center much easier. And if by some small chance you do hit the quick, while grinding, the bleeding will be very mild.
When using a dremel it’s best to use a battery operated one with an automatic safety stop feature. Make sure the dremel is set at a speed of 20,000rpm maximum. Any faster can burn the nails, which will hurt your dog. Hold the nail against the sanding drum for only a few seconds at a time. Do not press it hard against the nail, just allow it to touch the nail. Then stop to see how close to the quick you’ve gotten. If your dog has long hair you can stick its paw into pantyhose and poke the nails through. That way you don’t catch any hair in the dremel. If you have long hair it’s recommended that it be tied back as well.
Grinding nails will cause a lot of dust and debris to fly in the air. So it’s highly recommended you wear goggles to protect your eyes and perhaps a dust mask if you’re sensitive to dust.
When you’ve ground the nails as short as you can, round off the edges so that it’s smooth when you run your finger across the nail. Then you can use vaseline to give the nails a little shine.
I recommend grinding nails over clipping, because with practice you can get the nails shorter and smoother with less chance of hitting the quick. Grinding also causes the quick to begin to recede so you can get them a little shorter every time.
If you’re still insecure about doing the nails yourself ask your local groomer to observe them doing the nails a few times. And don’t forget to give your pup a well-deserved treat afterward!
Note: You probably noticed I recommended using a dremel tool and didn’t mention the much-advertised “Pedipaws.” I do not recommend this product to any of my clients and the ones who have used it weren’t satisfied with its performance. I’ve been told it can be rather loud and not always powerful enough. My main concern is the cap over the sanding drum for catching dust. The cap has a rather tiny hole in the side that you must maneuver the nail into. I can’t imagine most dogs holding still enough for this, nor do I see how you could observe the length of the nail as your grinding. Another concern of mine would be that a dog with large nails could get their nail caught in the hole.