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The following article is an excerpt from the book,

It's For The Animals! Natural Care & Resources

by Helen L. McKinnon 





Have you ever cut your dog’s nail too short and it bled?  Yee ow! That hurts!  I have done that in the past and my dog  never forgot it!

No more torture!  I’ve found a wonderful alternative which you might like to try, too.  Many years ago I watched a grooming demonstration that included  grinding a dog’s nails.  The tool with “the whirling emery board” is sold as “The Pet Nail Groomer” made by Oster.  I got the cordless model.  Most pet catalogs and pet stores (many on-line) sell that one and another one called “Dremel Mini Mite”, which seems even more powerful. (See the Resources Section  Buying the nail grinder was the best $45 I’ve probably ever spent. 

It’s very helpful to introduce this unfamiliar “vibrating” thing to our dogs and cats before initially attempting to trim their nails.  So, consider getting them used to this method by just running the nail groomer next to them, perhaps letting the side of the unit touch them for a bit, but not trimming any nails, and afterwards, giving them a treat each time. Of course, the younger the dog or cat is when you begin this method of trimming nails – the better! 

The first thing to do, before beginning the ‘pedicure session’, or giving your dog a bath is to take her/him out for a short walk to be sure she or he has had the opportunity to pee, etc.

To trim my dogs’ feet, I spread out an old sheet on the floor, and my large dogs lie on it.  I sit next to my dog and trim their feet.  When I’m trimming the nails of my small dog, or cat I sit on that sheet and they sit in my lap with my arms around her or him.  

Please note:  if the nails are really long, only trim a little at a time.  You will need to trim more often in order to get the nail shorter.  Initially, it took about 6 months for my dog’s nails to get to the (now) shorter length. 

Also, remember that the dremel end can get very hot while grinding, so it’s better to “tap” the nail rather than keep consistent pressure on the nail. 

In addition, I trim the hair on the bottom of the pads of their feet because it gives them better traction on the floors – a lot less slipping which reduces the chances of injury.  This is especially helpful in preventing those “ice balls” from developing in their pads from the snow in the winter time.  For many years I used rounded ended scissors and now prefer a cordless trimmer, many are widely available. 

Doing their feet every three weeks keeps the nails from getting too long and is also a way to prevent problems, as checking in between the toes for burrs etc. is done at that time.  It’s also a good idea to have a look in their ears and teeth, while you’re at it.  When all the trimming and brushing is done, just scoop up the old sheet and shake it outside.  Then, take a shower and get yourself a manicure!

When my dogs were pups, I trimmed my cats’ nails, just to be on the safe side.  A useful item to have on hand are the special cat nail “scissors” and “The Cat Sack” which many catalogs sell (see Resource Directory). 

Remember, the nail grinder heats up quite a bit, so that’s why I only trim one side of each nail at a time.  You can test this out, yourself, as I’ve used it to trim the calluses on my feet be sure to start out on the “low” setting!

 Here’s my method (which has taken me years to perfect): 

With the pet nail groomer / dremel tool on *High* setting, firmly grasp the paw, and push the nail out so that it’s fully extended and, holding the nail securely: 

1)     Trim one side of the end of each nail on that foot (tap if it gets hot)

2)     Trim the other side the end of each nail on that foot.

3)     Trim the (now) pointed end of each nail - but not too short (tap if it gets hot)

4)     Smooth any rough areas - round them off by slightly “tapping” the grinder to the nail.

5)     Give your pal a little brushing and a treat (catnip for the cats!) – makes each session easier! 

Flower Essences such as “Rescue Remedy” are very helpful if your dog or cat is afraid (follows the section on ear treatment).   It now comes in a small spray bottle which is very convenient.  Click on the link for additional information about Flower Essences in Animal Care

Another helpful suggestion is to feed a calming supplement called “Quiet Moments” by NaturVet, 800/ 628-8783.  It’s for dogs and cats, and given 30 minutes prior to grooming, or other anxious times. 

Should you trim too much and the nail bleeds, you might want to use hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball and hold it on the nail, using moderate, constant pressure for about 15 seconds to help stop the bleeding.  Another option is to try “Cut Rescue”, an herbal styptic duster from:

Well-In-Hand Herbals”, “Topical Medicinals”, 888/ 550-7774   or the conventional product, “Kwik-Stop”, which is a  styptic powder containing chemicals.

ã Copyright 1995-2008 Helen L. McKinnon  All Rights Reserved

Note: Permission granted to print-out for personal use


For trimming a CAT's nails, please click here


ã Copyright 1995 Helen L. McKinnon All Rights Reserved

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