Cutting Dog Toenails
A Chihuahua’s toenails are too long if they make clicking noises on the floor when he walks or touch the ground when he stands still. Dogs with long nails are forced to walk on the backs of their feet, leading to splayed toes and an awkward gait. When untrimmed for months, toenails and dewclaws eventually curl under the foot, circling back to puncture the pads. Trim your dog’s toenails a minimum of once a month; once every two weeks is better.
Although there are different sizes of dog nail clippers on the market, many Chihuahua owners have found that the even smaller feline versions work best for this tiny breed. There are three basic styles of nail trimmers available for both dogs and cats: scissors- style, pliers- style, and guillotine- style.
Scissors- style units operate much like a pair of manicure scissors, but with a special blade for cutting dog toenails. Pliers-style clippers cut from side to side. With guillotine-style clippers, you place the dog’s nail through a hole in the top of the tool and squeeze the handle. The two latter styles also come with built-in stoppers to help ensure that the right amount of nail is trimmed.
The important thing to make sure of is that the blades on either of these clippers are sharp. Once you are at the desired length, use a nail file to smooth the rough edges of the nails so they don’t catch on carpeting or debris outdoors.
When grinding, use a low speed (5,000 to 10,000 rpm) cordless nail grinder fitted with a fine grade (100 grit) sandpaper cylinder. Stone cylinders are more prone to heat buildup and vibration. Grinders have the added benefit of leaving nails smooth and free of sharp, jagged edges produced by traditional nail clippers.
Some people use a grooming table when trimming nails; others do the clipping when their Chihuahuas are on their backs in their laps. When trimming dog toenails, follow these steps:
- Start the job by lifting your Chi’s foot up and forward.
- Hold his foot firmly but gently in your left hand so your right hand can do the trimming.
- Avoid cutting the quick by trimming the nail just outside of the vein. You won’t be able to see the quick in dark nails, so trim just the tip of the nail, at the point where it starts curling downward. If he has white or light nails, your job is easier because the blood vessel inside each nail is easily seen through a light-colored nail.
Trim his nails properly, and your Chi will feel nothing more than slight pressure-the same as you feel when trimming your own toenails. If you accidentally cut the quick, his nail hurts and bleeds. Stop the bleeding with a styptic pencil made for people, or you can use the styptic powder sold at pet supply stores. In an emergency, pressing the bleeding nail into a soft bar of soap for a minute or so also will stop the bleeding.
Without a doubt, a dog prefers prevention. Work under good lighting so you can cut his nails without a mishap. Your dog may forgive a cut quick if it’s a rare occurrence; but if you hurt his toes often, he’ll struggle and scream when you try to work on his feet.
Chihuahuas that are terrified of having their toenails trimmed morph into monsters at the sight of a toenail clipper. If your Chi is scared, it may take two people to accomplish the nail clip-one to hold him and the other to wield the clipper. But remember, regardless of how frustrating the job becomes, no rough stuff. That tiny leg you’re holding is breakable. If you can’t do the job safely at home, don’t hesitate to take your Chi to the vet or a professional groomer for his trimmings.
Just remember: groomers and veterinarians charge a nominal fee to clip nails. By using their services you won’t have to see your pet glower at you for the rest of the night.