What is the Difference Between Trimming and Grinding a Dog’s Nails?

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Not many pet parents enjoy trimming their dog’s nails.  It's most likely that your pup doesn’t like it much either.  However, nail trimming is an essential part of caring for your dog’s health and hygiene, and should be maintained frequently. 

Preparing Your Pup

Regardless of the method of nail trimming you choose, it will involve handling your dog’s paws. Therefore, it is ideal if you familiarize your pooch with having his paws touched at a young age.

That’s not to say an older dog can’t learn new tricks!  If your dog is older and is not used to having his feet handled, you can certainly get him comfortable with this process.  It takes patience, but you may be able to desensitize a dog to having his nails clipped.  

However, if your dog displays signs of intense fear, distress, or aggression, you should stop and consult a certified dog behavior specialist.  It is better to be safe and talk with a professional who can help modify this behavior.

Why is Nail Maintenance Necessary?

Your pup’s nails should be trimmed frequently enough to keep the nails short at all times.

If your dog's nails are left unmaintained, it can damage your dog's legs, causing him pain when he walks.  If the nails are long enough to repeatedly touch the ground, they force pressure back into the nail bed and on to the toe joint. Over time, this can realign the joints of the dog’s foreleg, causing your canine companion to be more susceptible to injuries.

A dog’s nails also help provide traction when your canine companion is running or on an incline.  If the nails become too long, your dog’s natural sense of balance can be offset.

If allowed to get too long, your dog’s nails are more prone to tearing or cracking, both of which can be painful, and in some cases, lead to infection.

What is Nail Trimming?

There are two main ways to maintain a dog’s nails.  One is to use a tool known as a trimmer or clipper. The other is to use a motorized tool called a grinder.

There are a couple of different types of nail trimmers:

  • Guillotine style clippers work by placing the dog’s nail through a hole and squeezing the handle. A single blade slices down across the hole and cuts off the excess nail. This style tends to work with small to medium dogs. However, it may not be strong enough to cut large, thick nails.
  • Scissor clippers work similarly to scissors. The blades have small indentations to make it easier to position the dog’s nail for clipping. This style clipper allows for more force and is better for dogs with larger nails.

What is Nail Grinding?

Grinding is another way of maintaining a dog’s nails. Instead of using clippers, this requires an electrical rotary tool that shortens the dog’s nails with a spinning section of material similar to sandpaper.

These tools are also referred to as dremels, and they wear down the nails by using friction.

Should I Clip or Grind my Dog’s Nails?

Whether you opt for clipping or grinding depends on your dog’s personality.  Some dogs do better with clippers, while others do better with grinders.  If you are trying to decide which might be best for your furry friend, consider the following:

Nail Clipping:

  • It is quiet and less likely to scare a dog than the buzz of the grinder.
  • It is faster, so the process is quick. This may work best if you have a dog that doesn’t sit still for long.
  • Clipping does not require any electrical cords or batteries.
  • It is easier to cut the quick of the dog’s nail, causing bleeding.
  • Blades must be replaced regularly to keep them sharp.

Nail Grinding:

  • It is useful for large and thick nails that are hard to clip.
  • It creates smooth and rounded nails.
  • It is excellent for sharp-edged nails.
  • It is an excellent option for pets that suffer from clipper anxiety.
  • It is loud and can be scary for a dog who is afraid of noises.
  • It causes an odor and dust, so you should have a mouth mask and eye protection.

Trimming your dog’s nails should be a simple procedure when performed correctly.  If you have not trimmed your dog’s nails, ask your vet or vet tech to give you a lesson on the correct way to complete the nail trimming.

Consider Investing in Dog Insurance  

Looking for more ways to keep your pup happy and healthy? Consider investing in a dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  Get your free quote today. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.  

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.