The Trials and Tribulations of Nail Trimming Demystified

The Trials and Tribulations of Nail Trims Demystified

If your floors are starting to get an unintended rustic look or you can pinpoint the location of your pooch by following the ‘click, click, click’ noise, there’s something you probably have been avoiding. If you don’t keep up with trimming your dog’s nails as much as you should, you are not alone. We completely understand how stressful it can be. Most people do understand how important nail trimming is, not only to save their floors, but to keep their pups free of pain.

How Did We Get Here?

How often a dog’s nails need trimming depends on both genetics and activity level. More active dogs, for example our regular daycare dogs who romp around the room playing from drop-off until pick-up, generally wear down their nails more, especially on hard surfaces. These dogs can go longer between nail trims. Dogs who’d rather be at home sunbathing put less wear on their nails and need trims more often. A surefire sign to tell if a dog’s nails need trimming is if they are clicking on the ground.  So, if it’s that easy to tell when a dog’s nails need to be trimmed, why is it sometimes ignored or avoided?

There are two reasons that seem to reign supreme when it comes to not keeping nails neat:

  1. The owner is worried about accidentally making their dog bleed.
  2. The dog loathes nail trims and it’s an extremely poor experience for both parties, if the owner can even get them cut at all.

The second option can vary in severity. Maybe your dog has always been squirmy and scared of nail trims. Or maybe they really let you know they hate the idea by showing teeth or growling. Call us today at (610) 965-3647 if you’d like us to help. We will work with your dog, adjusting for your specific situation. Keep reading to learn about our methods.Whether they weren’t introduced to regular nail trimming as a puppy, just never tolerated a clipping despite your efforts, or no longer trust the process after being ‘quicked,’ we understand that every situation is unique.

Unfortunately, I can assure you that ignoring the problem will only make it worse. The vicious cycle happens when a dog’s nails aren’t trimmed and they start hitting the floor. This causes the nail to be pushed back up into the nail bed with every step. This repeated action puts pressure on the toe joints and sometimes forces the toes to twist slightly askew. The pressure on the nail bed and unnatural position of the toe joints causes pain and eventual arthritis. On top of it, a dog may try to walk differently to avoid the foot pain, causing muscle pain. The cycle is completed when a nail trim is attempted to remedy the situation, but fails. If the dog’s nails weren’t trimmed because they do not tolerate it, having painful feet will only add fuel to the fire. If they did tolerate it before, it’s hard to say if they will be as patient when they are in pain. 

How to Get Back on Track: It’s Not All or Nothing

The good news is, it can be remedied. One of the most important things to remember is that it’s not all or nothing. I totally get it. Your dog’s nail situation has gotten out of control and you need them trimmed. Today. Take a deep breath. If you force your dog into a nail trim no matter the cost, you’re just confirming to them that nail trims are the absolute worst. Next time will be no easier and you’re likely to put it off again. Instead, just take a minute or two per day to work on teaching your dog that a nail trim isn’t so bad. Today, just let your dogs sniff the nail clippers and gently handle their feet sans clipper while giving treats liberally. Tomorrow, maybe you’ll be able to make some leeway on letting the clipper touch your dog’s nails without clipping (again, let them know this is a good thing with plenty of treats and praise). Work your way up to clipping one nail, eventually all of the nails on one foot, and so on. Even if you stick to only clipping one nail per day, in a little over a week, all of your dog’s nails will be trimmed.  

The stress of nail trimming can also be defused with plenty of breaks, praise, and treats. One of my dogs, who now allows me to cut all of his nails without a care, used to be very stressed by nail trims. I was able to get them done by giving him a treat and allowing him to run a lap around the yard after each nail. He grew to learn that nail trims were not as scary as he perceived them to be, in fact they mean fun and treats!

At Cold Nose Lodge, we employ the same Fear Free philosophy that is incorporated into all of our other services. We take the time to learn what works best for each dog and keep dog-specific notes. Sometimes that means using a dremel instead of nail trimmers, moving to a different room, being held and pet, or a delicious distraction. Other times, that means the trim being spread out over a day of daycare or a boarding stay so that a dog can release stress through exercise in the playroom in between trim sessions. We use additional methods from the Fear Free program as well. You can read more about Fear Free at Cold Nose Lodge here.

Sometimes It’s A Process

There’s not always a one day fix for long nails. Just like humans, the part of a dog’s nail that we trim off is made of keratin and is painless to remove. This dead part of the nail is trimmed at a 45 degree angle (see diagram).  However, in the core of a dog’s nail is the quick, which contains blood vessels and nerves. If this part is cut into, it’s painful and the dog’s nail will bleed. Accidents happen and if it’s just a nick, bleeding can be stopped with a product like Quik Stop that helps the blood to clot, sealing the quick. If bleeding cannot be stopped, veterinary care is needed. The quick will grow longer if the nail is allowed to grow long. For this reason, sometimes even when trimmed as much as possible, nails will remain long. Luckily, the quick can recede with very regular trimmings and subsequent exposure to hard surfaces like a walk on concrete or play during a day of daycare. Once the quicks are ‘chased’ back, the time between nail trims can resume to maintenance mode, trimming once every month or two, give or take, depending on the dog.   

If you’d like us to trim your dog’s nails, give us a call at (610) 965-3647. If the quicks of your dog’s nails need to be chased back, we’d be happy to formulate a plan to make that happen. Nail trim prices are:

  • $15 regularly
  • $10 with daycare
  • $5 with boarding
  • FREE for dogs boarding at least seven nights!

Read more about our grooming services here.

If you’d like more tips on trimming your dog’s nails at home, stop into Cold Nose Lodge at 235 W. Penn Ave. Alburtis, PA 18011. We can direct you to supplies and answer your questions. We also encourage you to join Fear Free Happy Homes, a branch of the Fear Free program open to pet owners, rather than just professionals. It’s free to join and they have a few articles on how to make nail trims stress free. Join at

Nail trims are an important part of keeping your dog happy and healthy. You got this!