Most dogs are very protective of their paws because they rely on them so much. They use them to run, play, hunt and interact with the world. So it’s no wonder they make such a big fuss about you touching their paws when you’re holding scary metal clippers or a noisy dremel in your hands.
Scary or not, it has to be done. Broken nails are a common occurrence with dogs that don’t get their nails clipped. Long nails can also cause pressure in the paw making it uncomfortable to walk. You will know when the nails are too long when you hear them clicking whenever the dog walks on hard smooth surfaces.
It will take a little while for your Chihuahua to get used to you clipping his nails. Even though it won’t hurt him when done right, it can still be a scary experience. They key to get him to listen is to make the experience as pleasant as possible with a reward at the end. The more positive the experience the less fussy they will be next time.
What You Will Need
Before you start trimming your dog’s nails, make sure you have everything you need by your side. Don’t expect him to sit still while you’re looking for things because he will use any opportunity he can to run away.
Clippers or Dremel
When it comes to trimming dog nails, you basically have two options – dremel or clippers. Clippers come in a few different variations but they all do essentially the same thing, cut the nail. Dremels, the more expensive option, files down the nail gradually. Both come with their pros and cons.
Dremel – Although it can be relatively more expensive, it can make trimming nails a little easier. Since you’re slowly grinding each nail down, you’re less likely to make a mistake. The downside, besides the price, is that they make a lot of noise which most dogs are scared of. They also take a slightly longer to complete the job compared to clippers.
Clippers – Cheap, easy to use and do what they are supposed to. A good pair of sharp clippers will make it a breeze to clip your dog’s nails. Can be a little tougher to use on large breeds since the nails are a lot thicker, but are perfect for small breeds like Chihuahuas. They are also a little harder to use on dogs with black nails where you can’t see the quick (the little pink flesh inside the nail that you don’t want to cut).
So choose the one that fits you and your dog best. If you do decide to go with clippers then I would also suggest to get a nail file as well. Clippers leave hard edges that you wouldn’t want. Filing down the edges will also help prevent little pieces of the nail from splitting off.
I like to lay down a clean towel underneath my dog to catch all the clippings. It makes it a lot easier to clean everything up after I’m done. On top of that, having a clean towel nearby can be handy in case you do cut the quick by accident.
Blood Clotting Powder
You can buy blood clotting powder at any pet store. If you can’t find it then ask for styptic powder or styptic pencil. If you cut the quick, the bleeding won’t stop on its own anytime soon and the wound will stay open allowing bacteria to enter. Pressing some of this powder into the nail will help form a clot to stop the bleeding and close up the wound.
Trimming Chihuahua Nails
The hardest part about clipping nails is getting your dog to sit still. As long as you don’t cut the quick or overheat the nail by using the dremel on a single nail for too long, they will feel no pain but they will still jerk away. They just can’t help themselves.
You will have to make the experience as pleasant as possible for your pup. Don’t shout or yell at the dog and always use a comforting voice to praise him for being a good boy and staying still. Sometimes it helps to turn the dog away from looking at you clipping his nails. If he doesn’t see what’s going on then he will have less reason to freak out.
When is it time to trim my Chihuahua’s nails?
When walking on hard floor, you shouldn’t hear the nails hitting the floor. If they are then the nails are too long and need to be clipped. If the nails were left to grow out for a long time without being trimmed then chances are that the quick expanded with them. So even if you cut close to the quick, the nails can still be long enough to hit the floor when the dog is walking.
If this happens to your Chihuahua, you will have to trim the nails close to the quick and then wait for it to recede back and then clip again. This process will need to be repeated until the nails are at a length that’s comfortable enough for the dog to walk around with.
Clipping with clippers
- Firmly hold the nail in your free non dominant hand.
- Take the clippers in your dominant hand and align them just a few millimeters after the quick.
- Make a nice clean quick cut. Don’t slowly press down on the nail because your dog might react by jerking his paw causing you to make a bad cut.
- Move on to the next nail until the paw is finished.
- Go on to the next paw and repeat the process.
- File down each nail to round off the edges. If you see any small parts splitting off, file them down too.
Trimming with a Dremel
- Hold your dog’s nail with your non dominant hand.
- Use the dremel to trim down the nail until it’s only a few millimeters longer than the quick.
- Avoid overheating by going to another nail or lowering the speed of the dremel of the nails are too long.
- Round off the edges.
- Move on to the next nail and repeat the process until the whole paw is finished
Trimming Black nails
Trimming nails that are dark and not see-through is a little harder to do because you can’t see the quick. So instead of knowing exactly how much you need to take off, you will have to take off only a little at a time until you see the pulp. It’s hard to explain in writing but here is a great video showing you what to do if the Chihuahua has black nails.
What to do if you accidentally cut the nail
First thing to do is not panic, your dog picks up on that and seeing you panic won’t help him when he is already in pain and bleeding. Don’t worry it’s not that big of a deal, although it’s still painful for the dog. Just remain calm and focus on stopping the bleeding.
Get the blood clotting powder and press it into the cut nail. Majority of the time the first application will stop the bleeding, but if it starts bleeding again, just repeat the process. If you don’t have any styptic powder, you can use cornstarch instead. It won’t be as effective but it’s better than nothing.
After you have the bleeding under control, try to prevent your Chihuahua from licking at the wound. It will be your dog’s natural reaction so watch him for a bit.
You should also let your dog rest until it heals up. Don’t let him walk around outside too much, unless of course he needs to go potty. If he does need to go outside then wrap up his paw so that bacteria can’t get in.
Over the next few hours/days check up on his paw. Make sure everything is healing properly and that there are no signs of infections (foul odor, discoloration, swelling, etc.). If you do notice signs of infections, take him to the vet. He will need antibiotics to clear it up.