It is Manicure Time!

My dog’s nails need trimmed. And though it is easy, I usually pay someone to do it, but not this time. I am determined to trim them myself.  I have done my research and I know what to do and how to do it. I simply need to get over the fear of cutting a little too deep and have my dog yelp or flinch. Then the blood start flowing. It will be upsetting to my dog and me. It would also be frustrating if he runs through the house leaving a trail of blood spots on the carpet.

When you hear your dog’s nail click clacking as he walks across the floor or hard surface, it’s usually a sure sign that he’s ready to have them clipped. The general rule of thumb is to clip where the nail makes a defined curve down towards the floor. Don’t cut too far beyond that or you could snip the quick. Keep in mind that the longer you allow the nails to grow, the longer the quick may grow, as well.

It is easy to mistakenly cut the nail too short, “quicking” it. This is especially common in dogs with dark nails, but can happen with any dog. I read that torn and bleeding nails are common reasons dogs are brought into veterinary emergency rooms!

So, what can one do if you accidentally cut the nail too short? Here is what I have planned.

Keep the dog in one spot that is easy to clean, such as tile or linoleum. I will probably place towels over newspaper.

Keep the dog as calm as possible since the more excited he is, the higher his blood pressure will be and the more he will bleed.

Have gauze or a small towel handy to cover his foot if needed. I will probably also have paper towels close.

If blood is drawn the toe needs to be isolated and dried then dipped in a styptic powder. (I found some at the local farm supply store.) Gently and lightly pack the powder into the bleeding nail surface.

Styptic powder will provide an initial sting, so be prepared to hold onto the dog firmly while applying. Several home remedies also work, depending on the severity of the bleeding. A mix of corn starch and baking soda is said to work well or cornstarch or flour alone. Rubbing a clean bar of scent-free soap or a wet tea bag on the nail at the spot of lesser bleeding can also be effective. No home remedy, however, will be as instantly effective as styptic powder. Because I am a worrier, I have already bought styptic powder.

If the quick is accidentally cut, immediately compress the wound for at least two minutes with a clean cloth or paper towel. If the bleeding is minor, try rubbing a bar of clean, scent-free soap over it. If the bleeding is steady, wrapping ice within the compressed cloth or paper towel will help lessen the blood flow. If the nail is still bleeding cup your hand and pour some styptic powder or cornstarch into the palm. Gently dip the dog’s bleeding nail into the powder, repeating if the bleeding doesn’t come to an immediate stop. Don’t wipe away the blood before dipping because it will aid coagulation. Once bleeding does cease, continue to compress the wound with a paper towel or cloth, being cautious not to squeeze the paw. Try to keep the dog off his feet for at least 30 minutes. The 30 minute part is why I will be doing the trimming in the living room. He can easily sit that long and allow me to pet him.

Once sure that the nail bleeding has been stopped, wash the affected nail with lukewarm water and bandage to prevent licking and infection. If bleeding cannot be controlled after 20 – 30 minutes, proper clotting is not taking place, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately. Also consult a vet if the dog’s toe later becomes red, swollen or does not appear to be improving after a few days.

I chose this topic because I thought writing this would help me gain confidence in my ability to trim my dog’s nails. Now I am thinking I should give up buying coffee the next five mornings and pay a groomer to do it. I will let you know my choice next week.

Oh by the way, I never had trouble trimming my parrot’s nails which were thicker than then nails of many dogs. Her (the parrot) bite could break a finger, and I was not afraid!?!

Please share your nail trimming experiences or other grooming topics.

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace. Milan Kundera

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