I always struggle with trimming my dogs nail, he hates it..!! Firstly trying to stay still long enough, especially when he sees the nail trimmers coming his way. Secondly trying to get his little nail into the trimmer and lastly that quick sharp 'snap' of the trimmer taking off a nail.
If I can even get that first nail cut, he's OFF..!! This has led me to find the best dog nail grinder to make my life easier and keep my dogs nails trimmed.
Do I have to trim my dogs nails
This is a point that many articles about trimming your dog's nails miss, why is it so important? Well trimming our dog's nails and keeping them short is important to your dog's health. Some dog's nails are naturally kept short because of their activity on hard surfaces like walking or running on roads and pathways. If you dog is an indoor dog, walks on the grass or plays at the beach, then your dogs nails won't naturally wear.
Whole Dog Journal explains why this is so important. They mention that as long nails hot the ground, they exert pressure back onto your dogs toes and nail beds causing pain. If this continues to happen, it can become very serious and painful. Your dog will reassign weight away form the painful area which will realign and change your dog's joints.
Trim your dog's nails so that they do not touch the floor, and of course this is somewhat of an art form so that you don't trim them too short and injure your dog.
How short to trim dog's nails
This is a hard one to guess, especially at first and especially if your dog's nails are black.
Your dog's nails have a 'quick' running through the center that is filled with blood vessels and nerves. If this is cut, it is very painful. Spend some time judging where you your dog's quick is located and trim in short sections. If you hurt your dog, he will be very reluctant to come back for more. Trim the nail at a 45 degree angle, like the picture above.
How to find your dog's quick
Cutting your dog's quick when trimming their nails is not fun for anyone. It is easier to see the quick in clear nails but what if your dog's nails are dark or black?? Professional groomers know all the tips and tricks to safe and effective grooming and here's what they do.
Fisrtly, trim your dog's fur back so that you can see the nails better. As your dog's nail gets shorter, it becomes softer.
Dog nail clippers vs dog nail grinder
When choosing to trim your dog's nails, there are two types that you can use. They are both unique and use very different methods to cut your dog's nails. Where a nail clipper will quickly cut a piece of the nail off, a grinder will work back slowly to the desired length. If you go too short with a grinder it will most probably only be a minor cut as you will only touch the end of the quick. Cutting your dog's quick will HURT. This is definitely the major benefit of using a grinder but the choice is yours and ultimately, your dogs.
What are dog nail clippers
Clippers are the traditional method of cutting your dogs nails and come in two different styles:
With a guillotine trimmer, you have a little hole that you dogs nail goes through and a blade that 'chops' off your dogs nail (just like a guillotine). If you can even wrestle your dog’s little nail through a hole, you are doing well. I have tried this before while my dog is asleep.
The more common trimmer is the scissor style. Looking and working like a pair of scissors. Lining up the nail into the scissors jaws, and cutting of the required nail section.
The guillotine and the scissor style cutters are the more common style of nail trimmers. Although usually quite cheap, they come with their own problems. As they are a quick sharp cut, it is critical that you get the nail lined up in the right spot. This is not so easy with a squirming and wriggling dog in your arms.
If you cut your dogs nail in the wrong place, you will scare you dog off forever. Too short will cut your dogs nail quick, or soft nail tissue under the nail and cause your dog immense pain, lots of bleeding and a fear of nail trimming forever.
What is a dog nail grinder
A great alternative to clippers is a nail grinder. A nail grinder is like a fast moving nail file. It has a small rotating head, similar to a grinding stone or sand paper that files the nail progressively shorter rather than cut it all at once.
Not only do dog nail grinders slowly shorten your dogs nail, it gives a smoother and rounder result. A grinder is much better for larger, tougher and thicker nails. Mostly though, because they work by trimmer slowly to the desired length, there is less change of trimming too short and causing your dog pain and bleeding.
Although not too noisy, the grinder does have a little motor that may alarm your dog. As with any filing or sanding, there will be a little bit of dust. My recommendation is to desensitise your dog. Turn the grinder OFF and leave it around for your dog to smell and explore. Move it around and turn it on from time to time. After awhile, use it on yourself, test it out (even if you are just pretending). Like anything new to a scardy dog, desensitise your dog to the noise. After awhile, start using the nail grinder on your dog. Stop if your dog gets annoyed and try agains later. Persevere!
Dog nail grinder features
When choosing a nail grinder, there are a few features the will make your life easier. Look for these features when making your purchase:
Look for a nail grinder that has various speeds. Low speeds are generally quieter and not so scary for your dog. As your dog becomes comfortable, dial up the speed as this will make the trimmer process easier and quicker.
A good grinder will have a variety of heads both in sizes, shapes and grits. Changeable heads are a luxury but being able to switch heads around will give you more options. Use a course grit to trim most of the nail, then change to a fine grit to shine and polish your dogs nails.
A good grinder will need to be powerful enough to work quickly and effectively. A slow grinder will make the task longer and will only start to annoy your dog.
It is always easy to use something for an extended time if it fits your hand with a nice ergonomic shape. Consider the weight also when choosing a grinder as a heavy grinder can become hard to holder up for extended periods.
How to use a dog nail grinder
After choosing a good grinder with all the features that will make you and your dog's live easier, you will need to start preparing! Prepare your dog and prepare a comfortable place where you want to trim your dogs nails.
You will not be able to get the job done if your dog is anxious and shuffling around. Thus, you must calm your dog down as much as possible. I recommend grooming your dog after he has had a big dose of daily exercise. A long walk or play at the park will tire your dog out enough to become more compliant. As always have some tasty treats on hand.
You can use treats also when you desensitise your dog to the grinder. Associating the sound of the grinder with your dog receiving a treat will help. From your dog’s perspective, the grinder sound will becomes more bearable, perhaps even enjoyable if your dog knows a tasty treat is on it's way.
Here’s some tips on how to desensitise your dog:
- Take your dog to the proposed grooming location.
- Put your dog in a sit or stay position and show them the treat.
- Reveal the nail grinder and turn it to its lowest speed setting.
- Bring the grinder closer while remaining calm yourself.
- Give your dog a treat a a reward (don't reward bad or frightened behaviour).
- Repeat this process until your dog is calm around the grinder.
Never force your dog beyond what she can handle. That is a good way for her to permanently have bad memories of this incident, and grooming her in the future will prove to be difficult. You may have to keep sessions short, and spread sessions out over several days to complete the task.
It is always better to start as a puppy but old dogs can learn learn new tricks too (unlike the saying)
Check out how relaxed this dog is while having her nailed trimmed. In this video both the grinder and clipper are used for a perfect job.
How to trim your dogs nail with a grinder
OK, you've chosen your new grinder, your dog is calm, you have some tasty treats, you are ready to go. Here is how I go about trimming my dogs nails:
- Put your dog in a comfortable position. Lying down is great but not all dog's are comfortable doing that so a comfy relaxed sitting position is fine.
- Check the length of your dog's quick, draw on the nail if you have to.
- Turn on the nail grinder and check that your dog is still calm, input tasty treat.
- Using small gentle strokes to get your dog into the swing and start removing small amounts of nail.
- Continue to grind from the end in small amounts until you are a small distance from the quick.
- When finished a tasty treat and lots of love will be called for.
If your or your dog cannot handle nail trimming, don't despair, take it slowly or find a professional groomer that an help you.
Best dog nail grinder reviews
Having searched high and low, to be honest I was quiet disappointed in the quality of nail grinders. Many are just not powerful enough and most seem quite low quality.
Below you will find dog nail grinder reviews for two that pass the test.
1. Dremel 7300-PT 4.8V Dog Nail Grinder
Dremel have an amazing name for themselves in the tool market so it is no wonder they have released a dog nail grinder. This tool is super powerful and should stand up to any sized dog. Features include:
- Two rotary speeds High at 13,000 rpm and low at 6,500 rpm
- 4.8 volts of power
- Cordless tool to avoid tangles
- 2 year warrenty
- 3 hour battery charging
- Removable and replaceable battery pack (have a spare on charge)
- Dimensions: 1.69" x 3.15" x 0.98"
- Weight 1.1 oz
Here's a short video showing how the Dremel tool works:
2. Furry Fido Dog Nail Grinder Kit
Furry Fido has produced a neat little nail grinding kit that is getting great reviews. Although it has some outstanding reviews it is less powerful and some reviews noted that it may not be suitable for larger dogs. If you have a small dogs then this is a great little kit.
- 2 forward and 2 reverse speeds - low at 7,500 rpm and high at 10,000 rpm.
- Quiet and lightweight - 2.1 oz
- Rounded ergonomic design
- Compact carry case
- Battery operated - AA size
I hope you have learned everything you need to know about keeping your dog's nails neat, trimmed and healthy. It's not always easy to trim your dogs nails and some dogs even hate it. but persevere and you will be able to keep your dog in tip top condition and save yourself some money in long term.