Trimming or Grinding, that is the question.

Did you know that we offer multiple options for your dog’s nails when you visit the grooming at Suite Paws? The two main choices you have are either a regular trim, or a nail grinding. For many dogs, getting their nails done is frightening. This can be due to a traumatic quick cutting that they have experienced, and if it were up to dogs, they would never trim those nails! (If only dogs were like cats who will groom their nails themselves if they get too long and annoying!)


nail_trimmingFirst of all, let’s learn about the anatomy of the nail. The “quick” is the blood vessel that resides in your dog’s nail. Every single creature has this, even as humans, if we break our nails or injure them somehow, they will bleed from this blood vessel, and it will hurt. In dog nails, this blood vessel can extend and retract, meaning as your dog’s nail grows, the blood vessel grows with it getting longer and longer. This is why when you’ve missed a few nail clippings you can only take off a little at a time or you will hit that quick! So if you’ve ever been disappointed in a nail trim because only a little was taken off when your dogs nails were extra-long, this is why!

What needs to happen when your dogs nails have gotten extra long, is more frequent minor trims in order to get that blood vessel to retract back into the toe. Groomers encourage bi-weekly trims for a few visits to return those nails back to a proper length. And if you can hear  nails clicking on the floor when your dog walks on tile or hardwoods, you can use that bi-weekly nail trimming to help get that nail back as close to the toe as possible thereby eliminating that click you are hearing!

If you’ve ever done your dogs nails, or even looked at them in detail, you will have noticed that quicks are easier to spot on dogs with lighter colored nails. Black nails make it incredibly difficult to see that quick, and it can lead to injuries more often than the lighter colored nails.



Some dogs keep their nails short due to their activity, they may have a nice cement area that files them down for you naturally. If you are not blessed with such luck you might find your dogs nails needing regular TLC, either from you doing it at home or you visit a groomer and they take care of this for you. The two main choices you have is choosing to trim the nails or grind the nails. Since grinding the nails takes special equipment that is a little pricier than your normal nail trimmers, most families trim the old fashion way at home and don’t know a great deal about the grinding option.

Normal nail trimming takes place with specialty trimmers that leave a rather sharp edge on the nail initially, which will dull down as the dog walks and smooths them over. The groomer may file these down if they are dangerously sharp. This sharp edge can be a bit of hazard if you have a dog who likes to jump!


nail grind


I’m sure you’ve seen some of the “As seen on TV” ads for nail grinders, and our groomers use a line of Dremel grinders that they love. Grinding nails can be a bit less traumatic for the dog,  and the nail ends up a nice soft rounded shape versus a sharp edge from the trimmers.  A grind can result in a closer trim, with a smooth tip that can be a huge benefit if you have children or elderly at home that may end up getting scratched from a sharp edge.


Grinding isn’t difficult, but it may take a bit of practice to make it perfect, and our groomers have lots of practice and a steady hand!


IMG_20130928_155207_262Another thing we see is called “toe splaying” when the nails are so long that the dog’s foot is starting to deform to accommodate the nails. This can be very uncomfortable to the dogs, and sometimes the nails may actual grow into the nail pads causing infection. Some dogs may start having a pronounced limp due to nail issues that are being overlooked. Some breeds are a bit more prone to this than others, bulldogs and basset hounds come to my immediate mind due to their anatomy.

Even nails this long can be fixed with a few trips to your groomer. A small trim every two weeks can correct any issues you are facing due to long nails. If the groomer finds the nail embedded in the pad of the feet, they will contact you as you will likely need to keep it clean once trimmed or see your Vet for care if it is infected and needs medication. One of the most common nails we see this severity on is the dewclaw.

If your dog plays at dog parks, or even here at Suite Paws in daycare, long nails can be dangerous as it can lead to a possible nail breaking while they jump and run.

So, next time you visit us and are faced with the decision to make regarding your dog’s nail trim hopefully you will feel a bit better informed about the choices you have. And hopefully if anything this post will inspire you to check the health of your dog’s nails and paws and make sure they they are healthy, and that your dog is happy.