How to Cut a Curled Nail on a Dog

By Cindi Pearce

Cutting a dog's nails, especially when they are curled, can be nerve-wracking for you and the dog. You don't want to injure him and he doesn't want it done at all. Not a good combination. Invest in the proper nail cutting equipment.

Try a scissor-style toenail cutter, which is a clipper that you squeeze. When squeezed, the two halves come together and cut much like scissors cut. Another option is the guillotine style toenail cutter, which squeezes the two halves together but it doesn't cut like scissors, but like a guillotine. Your dog's nail is placed inside the circular-shaped cutter. If your dog is restless and moving, this isn't a good cutter to use.

Recruit someone to help you. This person can help you keep the dog calm and still. Situate yourself and your dog in the best position for both of you, which may mean placing the dog on its side, or you can elevate him on a table and let him stand. With one hand, hold the dog's paw so you can get a good look at the nail. You are holding the clipper in the other hand.

Examine the dog's nails. Position the clipper around the end of the nail that you are starting with, then squeeze and the nail should fall off. Give your dog a treat for behaving and being tolerant. If your dog's nails are curled, this is an indication that they are ingrown. If the nails have grown into your dog's pads you must cut the nail with a clipper and then slowly remove the nail from the pad, according to Petinsurance-101.com. Usually, an ingrown toenail will fall out once it has been cut, but if it doesn't, pull gently on the nail using tweezers or your fingers. After you have removed the ingrown toenail, clean the area that has been damaged by the nail. Mix ½ cup of water with ½ cup peroxide and clean the paw using this mix. Apply an antibiotic ointment afterward.

Cutting a dog's nail that has curled extremely, much like a ram's horns, is a difficult task because the nail trimmer doesn't want to slide over the curled nail. If you are able to get the nail trimmer over and around the curled nail, you must cut from the top of the nail downward. This puts a lot of pressure on the nail because you are cutting through the hardest part of the nail first.

Avoid cutting the quick when trimming your dog's nails, as this will cause the dog to bleed. The quick is a pink-looking blood vessel that is inside the nail. Consider using a quick-finder cutter, a relatively new instrument that is designed to let you know the location of the quick. If you do accidentally cut the quick, dip the dog's paw in a container filled with corn starch. This will halt the bleeding in a few minutes. If it doesn't stop bleeding, take your dog to the vet. When the dog's nails are dark, it is harder to see the quick -- so proceed carefully and conservatively.