Nail trim for health —Tips and supplies


Nail Trim for Health

Nail trim for health means safer traction for wheelchair dogs.   Walking dogs can avoid painful overgrown nails, arthritis and correct for a more normal gait.

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Nail trims for health

That tell tale click-click says your dog’s nails are too long.  Nail trim for health means safer traction for scooters and wheelchair dogs with short nails and fur trimmed back from front paw pads. Walking dogs can avoid painful overgrown nails, arthritis.  Balance can improve with proper body posture and a more normal gait can be encouraged with short nails.
Have your vet give you a nail trimming demonstration to start with.

CAUTION during conservative treatment:

During a current disc episode, forgo trimming nails. Wait til after graduation day. The priority is disc healing over trimmed nails.  After conservative treatment, remember alway keep the back horizontal to the ground when trimming nails. For example, the dog might be lying down on the floor for nail trims.


  • Nail clippers: Preferably only “scissor” type clippers. Guillotine style clippers crush the toe, which is painful.
  • Treats: kitty kibble or other small treat.
  • Nail file: to smooth sharp edges
  • Coagulants: Quick Stop, paper towel, packed down cornstarch in a small container

Desensitize your dog

Massage each of its paws for 10  seconds, until he shows no negative reaction to being touched. Next introduce the nail clippers. To start just tap the nails with the clipper and not do any cutting.  When your dog tolerates having his feet held, clip just a bit of one nail tip (1/8 inch). If he is good, praise him and give a treat.
Then at another time, do another nail. Continue until all nails have been trimmed. Slowly,  you will be able to cut several nails in one sitting, and finally all the nails in one session.

Help from the pro trainers in desensitizing:

1) The clicker marks the exact moment the dog is doing a behavior you wanted. The word “YES!” could be used instead of the clicker.
2)  Your dog learns:  Trims equal Treats conditioning

Tips for successful nail trim for your dog’s health

  • Tire your dog out a bit with a walk or a romping play session
  • Trim when your dog is a bit hungry to have greater interest in getting a treat
  • Be sure to make trimming time fun and not a struggle. Be calm. Your dog will pick up if you are nervousness.
  • Trim nails outside or in a well lit room.
  • Don’t squeeze the toes – that hurts!
  • Start on the hind feet, because the nails tend to be a little shorter and less sensitive than the front.
  • Take a quick review on what your vet demonstrated:


Nail trim for health- anatomy

Blue line goal

For black nails needing quite a trim you will not be able to see just how long the quick has grown. It is best to take several small trims to reach the approximate blue line goal. Too large a trims and you are likely to hurt your dog and cause bleeding.  After each trim, look at the nail. STOP,  if there is the first tiny black dot of the quick appearing (white nails have a pink quick).

Tiny tiny trims to top edge of nail

After getting to the blue-line goal, finish up with tiny trims around the non-sensitive top edge of the nail.

Final finishing step

The final steps are to make a few strokes with nail file to smooth any sharp edges. Trim hair between front toe pads and away from the bottom paw pads for better pulling traction for a cart dog.

Bleeding quick

Should you cut the quick, hold a small piece of paper towel tightly against the end of the nail for a few minutes. Or you can press the cut with a small container of packed cornstarch or “Quick Stop” powder up against the bleeding end of the nail. These options should work pretty fast. The nail should stop bleeding in under ten minutes. If it doesn’t, call your vet!

Why regular trim sessions

The good news is that with regular trims, the quick will regress into the nail, allowing you to cut a little shorter next session. It is better to cut a small amount regularly every 2 weeks than a large amount at once.


trim long nails
Long nails cause incorrect posture.
A nail trim for health means the nails should not touch the floor when standing in a normal position. This dog’s nails are too long.
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This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the dog IVDD community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.

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