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No one likes it when your dog's nails are too long — not your floors, not your couch, and definitely not your dog. However, whether you've recently decided to adopt a new puppy or have been a dog owner for years, the idea of cutting your dog's nails at home can be more than a little intimidating. The last thing you want to do is hurt your furry friend in the process, which is why the best dog nail clippers are designed to help you trim your pup's nails safely and effectively — even if you're not a trained groomer.
As Patrick Mahaney, VMD, CVA, CVJ, of California Pet Acupuncture & Wellness (CPAW), Inc. tells Woman's Day, it's totally safe for dog owners to cut their own pet's nails, as long as you have the right tools and can keep your pup calm. "I always recommend using positive reinforcement with high-value treats and praise during the restraint process needed to perform nail trims," he says. "You can also perform nail trims in stages where perhaps you only trim one paw at a time in order to minimize discomfort." And of course, using one of these top-rated dog nail clippers will help you get the job done, too.
The best dog nail clippers to buy in 2022
Like dog strollers and dog sunscreens, dog nail trimmers are one of those unexpected pet products that's well worth the investment, and these are the very best. Read on for information on different types of dog nail clippers, as well as everything you should know before trimming your pooch's nails.
What to look for when shopping for dog nail clippers
✔️ Breed size: Almost all nail clippers and grinders will provide a suggested size range (usually by weight), so make sure that any clippers you buy are the right size for your dog. Clippers that are too small won't cut through the nail effectively, and clippers that are too large may cause you to accidentally clip your dog's nail quick (which is the soft cuticle containing the blood vessel and nerves that run through your dog's nail).
✔️ Blade type: You'll find that nail clippers come with several different blade types (including angled, plier, conical, guillotine, and rotary), but the type you select all depends on your personal preference and experience. Guillotine-style blades are the trickiest for newbies to handle, so it's best to avoid those until you have experience. And whatever type of blades you choose, make sure they're made with stainless steel so they stay sharp and cut with precision.
✔️ Safety: If you’re not an experienced dog groomer, then you may want to look for nail clippers with a safety guard. Many clippers feature a guard on the back to help you not take too much off the nail, though you should note that a quick stop only serves as a guide, not a means to prevent over-trimming.
✔️ Bonus features: In addition to a safety guard, useful features you may want to look for in a pair of clippers include a built-in LED light (which allows you to better see the bloodline in nails as you cut) and retractable file to help polish off your work. And of course, quieter tools are always better, especially if you have a nervous pet.
- How often should you cut a dog's nails? According to Mahaney, the frequency with which you should trim your dog’s nails depends on the rate with which the nails grow, the amount of abrasion the nails receive, and your own personal preference. "For dogs that spend more time walking and standing on abrasive surfaces like pavement, there generally is a need to trim nails less-frequently than dogs whose nails never touch abrasive surfaces," he adds.
- How can you calm a dog before cutting their nails? Nail clipping can be stressful on both you and your pet, but it's essential to keep your pup calm in order to avoid over-cutting. "Generally, tired dogs are better behaved dogs," Mahaney says. "So, heavily exercise your dog in the 24 to 48 hours prior to a nail trim so that he’ll be calmer and more cooperative for the procedure." And if you have a particularly aggressive or uncooperative dog, then Mahaney suggests talking to your vet about using pain-relieving or sedating medications to provide a better experience.
- Can you use human or cat nail clippers on a dog? While you can technically use human clippers on smaller dogs, this isn't the safest choice, as the the pressure of the cut is different than with the scissor or guillotine types, and may cause the nail to split. However, cat nail clippers can be used safely on both dogs and cats, as long as your dog is one of the smaller breeds.
Corinne Sullivan is an Editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers a variety of beats, including lifestyle, entertainment, relationships, shopping, and more. She can tell you everything you need to know about the love lives of A-listers, the coziest bedsheets, and the sex toys actually worth your $$$. She is also the author of the 2018 novel Indecent. Follow her on Instagram for cute pics of her pup and bébé.
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