Nail Clipping 101 for Large Dogs

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As a dog lover, you've dealt with your pal's nails. Some dogs, especially small breeds, are totally fine with a good nail clipping once in a while. Maybe it's because their nails are so tiny they barely feel it. Large dogs can have a different outlook. Their nails are bigger, thicker, and harder to cut. The nail clipping process for large dogs can be unpleasant enough that many pet owners put it off as long as possible. Before you know it, your best pal's nails are actually causing them pain. Does your pet lick their feet excessively? Dogs often lick to relieve pain, even if there is no apparent wound.

I've learned by living with Rottweilers for the past 30 years that every dog is different. For some, nail clipping is their worst nightmare. Others don't even notice and sit patiently until the procedure is over. The key to successful nail clipping for large dogs is to find the method that works for you and your particular dog. We give you the lowdown on how to make your pet's pedicures more enjoyable for both you and your best friend.

Nail Clipping 101 for Large Dogs

Wrap Your Mind Around the Experience

Snipping all of those nails in one sitting depends a lot on your dog's disposition, but even more on your own disposition. If the process is stressful for you, it's stressful for your dog. It's important to set aside plenty of time, slow down, and calm your thoughts and nerves. Dogs are pretty vibey. They can sense your dread and it makes them nervous. Why not turn nail clipping into a fun and relaxing time with your pet? Start by getting yourself into a zen moment.

Start Training at a Young Age

Dog Nail Anatomy
Dog Nail Anatomy

It's always good to start training your pup at a young age. Dogs are smart and catch on quickly. Most just need to know what you want them to do and they're happy to do it. Most of the time. Gently play with your pup's toes regularly. Get them used to feeling your fingers between the pads on their feet. Make a game out of lightly tapping on their nails. Introduce them to your clipping device as early as possible. Just show it to them without clipping. Let them sniff it and get familiar with it while you continue touching their feet. Do this several times a week until it's time for a trim.

Training isn't just for your pup. Take some time to get familiar with dog nail anatomy. If you look closely, you can see the quick under the shell on the bottom of the nail. If you cut too short, you risk cutting the quick which results in some pain and blood loss. You can shore up the bleeding with some Styptic Powder but a snip to the quick is painful for your pup and could lead to infection or other complications.


Identify the Method that Works Best

Vet or Groomer
PetCareRx Logo - 230x80Many people would rather avoid the whole situation and let their vet or groomer take care of the nail situation. This is an excellent option for those who are short on time or patience. Many vets and groomers accept walk-in visits for nail clipping. Veterinary staff and grooming professionals know exactly how to cut your pet's nails without doing damage. Professional dog nail clipping usually costs between $20-50. It's a small price to pay if you're not up for tackling the job on your own.

Heavy Duty Nail Clippers
Heavy-duty nail clippers have been the industry standard for over 30 years. Vets and groomers rely on this style of nail clipper for most pedicures. If your dog is okay with them, they're quick and easy. It's important to use a clean and very sharp set of clippers to avoid crushing your pet's already sensitive nails. People often have the same pair of nail clippers for years, thinking they work fine. It's best to clean and sharpen your clippers regularly and invest in a new pair each year or more depending on how much grooming you're doing. You can't go wrong with a new pair of Go Pets Nail Clippers for Dogs and Cats. They're sharp and have an ergonomic handle. They also come with a nail file so you can smooth your pet's freshly clipped nails.

Study dog nail anatomy before you start grooming. It's important to avoid going too short or you risk some unnecessary pain and suffering for your pet. If you're unsure about this, your best remedy is to head to the vet or groomer for a professional pedicure.

Grinding Tool
My Sunny, an 80 Lb. Rottweiler wasn't fond of standard nail clippers. As with many dogs, the clipping sound made her nervous. A good alternative is a grinding tool like the Dremel Dog Nail Grooming and Grinding Tool. You can gently and quickly sand your pup's nails in a matter of seconds. You'll need to get your pup to sit still while you gently hold the sanding disc to each nail. It helps to introduce your pup to the tool at an early age. Plug it in and turn it on near your pup on a regular basis so they get familiar with the sound.

One of the quickest and easiest methods of filing your dog's nails is a simple strip of sandpaper. One of our dogs, Sugar was totally against pedicures when we first tried regular nail clippers. We then tried the grinding tool but the breeze was too distracting and she wouldn't sit still. She doesn't even know she's getting a pedicure when we use sandpaper.

Place a strip of medium-grit sandpaper on the ground and use it as a toy. Hold it down with your foot and encourage your dog to scratch it away. It only takes a few swipes and the front nails are beautifully filed all while playing a fun game. The sandpaper method doesn't address the back nails but I notice that most of our dogs' back nails rarely need trimming.

Daily Walking on Hard Surfaces

Walking your furry friend on hard surfaces like concrete is the natural way to keep your dog's nails trimmed. A lot of dogs live mainly indoors and have soft grassy backyards for lounging. Without regular friction on hard ground, nails can grow too long. This causes painful paws and your dog may start to walk off-balance or limp. Dogs (and people) need daily activity. In fact, dog walking is the healthiest habit you can start right now. Keep yourself and your beloved pet in tip-top shape and eliminate pedicures with daily walking on hard surfaces. Make a point of walking on concrete, pavement, and dirt which naturally file your dog's nails to just the right length.

The goal is to maintain your pup's nails regularly. Well-manicured nails keep your pup's feet healthy and pain-free. A pain-free dog is a happy dog.

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