Nail trimming is a common procedure during the routine grooming of your beloved pooch. While the basic trimmers are still more common, many people have found that filing is also a necessary part of this procedure. Filing can eliminate the sharp edges left from nail injury or splinters.
Types of Manual Files
Two basic forms of manual files exist for dog nails: straight, much like the ones people use on their nails; and U-shaped, to better conform to the natural shape of the nail. Both are effective, although the U-shaped variety will make the job a little easier, particularly if your pooch is uncomfortable with the grooming procedure. Both styles are readily available at pet supply stores, online retailers and big-box stores. If your pup's nails aren't too long, use nail files to round out the tips.
Unless they're used to it, dogs tend to be fearful of having their paws handled for any length of time. Add to this the sensation of the file rubbing against the claws and you could get one stubborn, scared pooch. Before you file your dog's nails for the first time, desensitize her. Spend a few minutes a couple times a day holding each of her paws in your hands. Talk to her in a soothing voice and caress her paws and toes while holding them. Once she has accepted you holding each of her paws for an extended period, lay the file beside her as you hold her paws. Let her sniff it and explore it while you hold it. Continue holding the file near your pooch while you handle her paws, building up the amount of time you do so.
While desensitizing may work for many dogs, especially those who were trained when young, you still may need to restrain your pup during the filing process. You may have success by letting her lie on her belly, with one arm draped over her shoulders and the other over her neck. This enables you to hold a front paw in one hand and file with the other. Wiggly dogs may do better if you lay them on their side and use your upper body and one arm to hold them down and hold a paw, while filing with your free hand.
Even when you're using files to shorten nails, remove splinters or soften the tips of nails, the potential for injury is still there. The quick that supplies nerves and blood vessels to the claws should never be cut, as it can bleed indefinitely. Exercise caution even when you're just filing the nails: in dogs with light-colored claws this is easier, as you'll be able to see the pink quick.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.