Getting your nails done might be one of your favorite activities, but your furry best friend may feel differently, no matter how kind and skillful the groomer, nor how posh the paw-dicure service.
Nail clippers can lead to cuticle cuts that sting for a long time after the fact, especially in your pet’s memory. After just one nail cut too short, many dogs may refuse to let clippers near their paws ever again. If that’s the case for your pup, or if your doggo has been fortunate not to have had a bad experience with nail clippers and you’d like to avoid any potential trauma, a nail grinder could be an excellent option for keeping your pup’s paws healthy.
When it comes to nail trimming, your pup needs to trust the person doing it with any device. In many cases, no matter how much they love their vet or groomer, it might be that you’re the very best person for the job as far as your Fido is concerned.
Maybe you feel that trimming your dog’s nails yourself is your best bet, and perhaps you’re still considering whether or not to take over the task. Either way, we’re always here to lend a paw, so Doggy Advice has put together the best nail grinders for dogs as well as some sound advice on how to trim your dog’s nails with a nail grinder.
Our Top Picks For The Best Dog Nail Grinders
What Your Pup Might Love About A Nail Grinder
There’s no denying it’s a big job, but one that can also be rewarding since trimming your pet’s claws and keeping up with their hygiene is yet another way to strengthen the bond of trust between you and man’s best friend.
More good news is that trying out a nail grinder versus a traditional clipper to keep those claws in check can be a bonus to you and your pup in many ways! Here are some specifics on what your dog might love about a nail grinder.
Fear Factor – Your pup may have had a run-in with the nail clippers that didn’t leave them feeling paw-some about their experience. For some dogs who have been scared or injured by clippers, the nail grinder can be a welcome alternative.
Smooth As Silk – Another bonus of a nail grinder versus clippers is that grinders eliminate rough nail edges and avoid the cuticle pinching and nail cracking that clippers can inflict. Rough spots and cracks can later be snagged by carpets and grassroots alike, causing painful injuries to your pup’s claw and paw.
Learning Curve – Did you know that with regular trimming, the quick recedes inside your dog’s nail? That means if you’re consistent and dedicated in your trimming schedule, you’ll be even less likely to have an accidental ouch with a nail that gets trimmed too close to the quick.
Steady Now – If you know you want to be the one administering your pup’s pedicure, but you’re nervous that your unsteady hands could result in injury to your pet’s paws when using nail clippers, then a nail grinder could be easier to handle. Grinders are much less risky and more easy to use because you won’t need to secure the nail inside a cutter as you do with a clipper. Instead, you’ll only need to get close enough to touch the tip of the nail to the grinder’s surface.
What Your Pup May Dislike About A Nail Grinder
Careful of the Quick – Although with a grinder, you’re less likely to hit the quick than with traditional clippers, it’s still not impossible. You’ll nevertheless need to be able to keep your pup from wiggling about and keep their paws, as well as your own, nice and still during the process. Quick movements can lead to errors and injury, so be mindful at all times!
Sound Off – It’s possible your pooch may not feel so fond of the sound the grinder makes. It’s like a hum or a low-pitched whine, and it gets louder as it comes into contact with the nail.
Anxiety Attacks – Pups who’ve had a rough nail-clipper experience may have a bit of a freak out at just having their paws handled. Switching to a grinder may not change things one single lick for your pup at first. But if you persist with patience and love (and lots of treats and praise!), you’ll likely be able to win your dog’s trust back in the nail trimming department with a grinder.
Dust Devil – The nail grinder also produces dust, which has a smell, as it grinds your dog’s nails. It’s easy enough to sweep up your pedicure space afterward or move the event outside. One way or the other, you may want to consider a face mask or eye protection, especially if you know you have allergies or pet-odor sensitivities.
Using a Nail Grinder to Trim Your Dog’s Claws
Here are the basic steps to trimming your tail-wagger’s nails with a grinder, as well as some helpful hints about how to keep your Fido feeling fine about at-home nail-grinder paw-dicure sessions.
- Find a place where you and your pup are both comfortable. Experiment with the best setting and arrangement for you both. A lap-dog may be coziest, well, snuggled up in your lap. A larger pet may simply let you lift their paws while they’re sunning themselves in the grass and relaxing. The most important thing is that you’re able to support their paws from wherever you decide to work.
- Begin by separating the toe of the nail you’ll work on first. Remember to support the toe, but be careful not to squeeze it to the point of discomfort. Also, at this stage, make sure to safely secure away any stray hairs if your dog has long hair so that it won’t get caught in the nail grinder. CaninetoFive specializes in dog grooming, and they suggest using pantyhose or even a plastic shopping bag to cover the paw, letting only the claw poke through. This preventative measure allows only the nail to poke through and avoids any hairs getting wound up in knots or painfully pulled out by the drill.
- Gently pass the grinder across the bottom of the nail, then work your way in from the nail tip, making sure to smooth any rough edges as you go.
Tips and Tricks
- Work millimeter by millimeter, literally. Nail grinding is not a race to the finish line, and if it were, it’d be considered more of a marathon than a sprint. It would be best if you made a short pass over the nail with the grinder, back-off, and check your work. Keep going until the nail becomes as short as you want it to be, but remember to proceed with caution, so you don’t knick your pup’s quick.
- Learn how to handle the heat. Nail grinders generate heat as they smooth away the dead skin cells at the end of your dog’s nails. Because of this, you’ll want to be careful to only hold the grinder to the nail for a second or two at a time. Short moments of contact will help keep from burning your pup’s claw or paw and will ensure that you work slowly and carefully overall.
- Use consistent praise and treat techniques to ensure your pup adapts to the grinder from the very start. VetStreet suggests just letting your dog see the grinder first, followed by a reward. Each time your dog interacts with the grinder, you up the game a little. Next time, you turn the grinder on but don’t try to bring it near your dog yet. After that, you hold the grinder in one hand and touch your dog’s paw with the other. Each time your pup participates, they earn a treat. The first time you trim a nail with the grinder, consider doing just one. This way, little by little, you earn their trust and confidence, and healthy, weekly nail-trims are something you’ll both learn to love!
What to do if you Clip to The Quick
We all want to avoid it, and the tips and tricks included in this article will help you do just that, but give yourself some grace here if you do accidentally knick your dog’s nail to the quick. It happens to even experienced veterinarians and groomers sometimes.
Some doggos have such dark nails that you can’t see the quick inside the nail as you can in dogs with paler shades of nails. And sometimes your dog jerks away, or you have shaky hands, and an accident happens. Whatever the circumstances, here’s how to care for it.
Pup Prints: Understanding Your Dog From Paws To Claws
Here’s a fun fact about Fido’s fingerprints. They don’t have any!
That’s right; dogs’ paw pads don’t bear a unique print as human fingers do. That doesn’t mean you can’t discern one dog from another, only that you’ll find their identifying prints on the end of their nose—Dr. David Dorman from N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine explains this and other wonders about your dog’s nose here.
We’re here to talk paws, though, so let’s dive into the details about what parts make up your dog’s paws and how they function together to keep your canine fleet on their feet.
Understanding your pet’s paws can help you be a better groomer for them. Your dog’s paws are made up of 5 essential parts, the claws, the digital pads, the metacarpal pad, the dewclaw(s), and the carpal pad.
What Are Claws Made Of?
Claws are actually made up of a protein called Keratin, and they’re not really nails in the human sense either. Our nails grow from our fingernail beds, but dogs grow directly from the tips of their toe bones, earning their classification as claws.
The claw’s tip is made up of dead cells, which is why we can trim this part without causing any harm to our canine companions in the process. However, the quick is the claw’s inner layer that contains the blood supply to the cells. That’s why your dog can be so devastated when they get a too-close trim.
Since dog’s paws are highly specialized and unique to the needs of each breed, you may find your dog has zero, one, or two dewclaws, and below, we include more on the question around whether or not to clip your dog’s declaws.
What Do The Pads Do?
The pads you find on the bottom of a dog’s feet are split into three groups. The digital pads are located on each toe, just beneath the claws, the metacarpal pad is in the center, and the carpal pad is at the back.
According to Treehugger, shock absorption is the digital and metacarpal pads’ job, while braking is what the carpal pads do best. The pads are made up of a thick layer of fatty tissue that’s not unlike whale blubber. That means that dogs’ paw pads can sustain temps both much higher and lower than humans could endure. The fat layer also gives them extra protection for the delicate bones in their feet when they’re out adventuring over rough terrains.
Should Dew Claws Be Clipped?
This question can be polemic. Some people prefer to remove dewclaws for reasons such as show results in purebred dogs or for safety considerations, while others strongly object to the practice.
PetMD says that dewclaws are something like human thumbs and that when they’re attached by bone to the dog’s front foot, they’re entirely functional, totally necessary, and should not be removed. Attached dewclaws provide balance and traction and help your pups with tasks like grasping and climbing.
Vets may remove or loosely attached or double dewclaws from back feet as a preventative measure against injury. However, since dewclaw injuries are not incredibly common, the surgery risk is something you should weigh.
If your pet has their dew claws intact, you should care for these during your pet’s regular nail-trimmings just like the rest. Well cared for dewclaws have a significantly lower risk of injury.