Tools Of The Trade — Nail Trimmer Types

You should always use nail trimmers suitable for the size of the dog and always use a professional quality dog nail trimmer. These are designed to accommodate the shape of the dog's nail. NEVER attempt to use a human nail trimmer, even on the tiniest of dogs. The quality of the nail trimmers is an important consideration as using dull or inferior quality tools can create a potentially dangerous, painful, or at the very least, frightening experience for the dog or the groomer. Dull nail trimmers can crush, rather than cut the nail causing the dog unnecessary pain and creating a jagged edge on the nail. Low quality trimmers or nail clippers not in good working order can pinch the nail, becoming lodged on the nail.

Nail Scissors

Nail scissors are designed to open completely, making them perfect for toy breeds of dog and cats up to 15 pounds. They are especially useful for trimming dew claws that have grown around and back into the dog's skin. Technique: Small dogs may feel more secure about nail trimming if they are held closely between your upper arm and side. Use your hand to gently pull the paw forward and squeeze the paw pad to spread the digits making access to the nails easier. Inspect each nail before trimming. Be sure to include dew claws.

Plier-Type Nail Trimmers

Plier-type nail trimmers come in a variety of sizes for medium to giant breeds. The simple and sturdy design makes them a favorite of veterinarians and professional groomers everywhere. Beginners may find the safety cutting guard on some plier-type nail trimmers of benefit. The safety guard prevents placing the nail too far through the opening of the cutting edges. This allows you to trim just a little of the nail at a time. Plier-type nail trimmers can be held so that the nail is cut from side-to-side or from top-to-bottom, making them easier to handle and position for trimming the nails.

Technique: It is important to secure the dog so that you can safely reach each paw for inspection and trimming. Hold the dog's paw securely and gently squeeze the center pad to extend the digits. Inspect the nail for the quick line. Place the nail through the opening of the cutting edges of the trimmer and cut the nail in a smooth, decisive stroke.

Guillotine Nail Trimmers

Guillotine nail trimmers require that they be used to cut the nail from the underside of the nail up. Proper placement of the trimmer on the nail is especially important for best results. These nail trimmers are more appropriate for small to medium size dogs under 40 pounds. Regular blade replacement is necessary to keep the nail trimmer in good working order.

Technique: Same as for the Plier-Type Nail Trimmers – see above.

Nail File

A V-shaped dog nail file is specifically designed to accommodate a dog's nail. Filing the nails is an important finishing step to trimming the nails. This quick process will remove the rough edges left from trimming. It also helps to prevent the nail from snagging on carpets or fabrics as well as reducing the potential of scratching wounds on both the dog and its owner.

Technique: Hold the dog’s paw firmly, supporting the individual digit as you use the file. Place the V of the file on the nail and pull in one direction using the entire length of the file if possible. Repeat on each nail until the nail is relatively smooth.

Nail Grinder

An electric nail grinder can be either corded or cordless. It uses a small grinding stone spinning at a very high speed to file the nails. One must have a strong, steady hand and a calm dog to use the grinder properly. It is important to keep the tool away from hair and skin as it can catch the hair and become entangled.

Technique: Secure the dog, extending the paw forward. Hold the paw firmly and brace the individual digit as you begin using the grinder. Be sure the dog's coat is out of reach of the grinder. Gently place the spinning grinding stone against the nail. Shorten to the desired length. Repeat the process until all nails have been shortened and are smooth.