Trimming your Chihuahua’s nails can be a bit stressful, especially if your dog doesn’t like getting it done! They might wriggle around or try to get away, and you might worry about hurting them or trimming their nails too short. So, what do you do?
Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to be so stressful. We’ll cover how to trim Chihuahua nails so you feel better prepared.
- Why It’s Important to Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails
- How Often Should You Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails?
- Choosing a Type of Nail Trimmer
- How to Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails: 5 Steps
- What If You Cut Into the Quick?
- Is It Hard to Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails?
Why It’s Important to Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails
Trimming your Chihuahua’s nails is crucial to their health and happiness. When their nails are too long it can result in the following:
- Pain and discomfort
- Abnormal walking gait
- Reduced ability to ‘grip’
- Joint, tendon, and muscle issues
- Deformed feet
- Weak nails that are more likely to break
- Curled under nails that grow into the pad
How Often Should You Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails?
I recommend trimming your Chihuahua’s nails at least once a month, but this is just a rough guide.
I like to look at my dog’s feet flat on the ground (or on my hand as it’s sometimes easier to see). If their nails are touching the ground or are very close to touching, it’s time to trim them.
Other signs your dog’s nails need to be trimmed include:
- Hearing their nails ‘clacking’ on hard ground when they walk
- Splaying their feet
- Getting their nails caught in blankets, rugs, or other soft surfaces
- Their nails curling under their pad
Choosing a Type of Nail Trimmer
There are different types of dog nail trimmers you can use. You should never use human nail clippers or scissors on your dog’s nails as they can cause your dog’s nails to break or split.
You can choose from the following options:
- Scissor-style trimmers: These are more like traditional nail scissors.
- Guillotine style trimmers: This style of trimmer has a crescent-shaped blade and when you push the handle it cuts the nail against the edge of a metal ring.
- A nail grinder: This grinds your dog’s nails down rather than cutting them. This is my preferred method as I find it less stressful for my Chi and me, and I feel more in control. I use one like this PATPET Steel Grit Dog & Cat Nail Grinder.
How to Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails: 5 Steps
Start getting your dog used to having their paws handled and their nails cut as early as possible. This is the best way to reduce stress and make it a more positive experience.
The steps below will provide some basic guidance.
1. Choose an Area and Set up
Choose where you’re going to cut your dog’s nails. I recommend somewhere reasonably quiet and away from distractions. You’ll also want good lighting!
Once you’ve picked the right spot, set out all your equipment. You’ll need:
- Your chosen trimmers
- Some treats
- A towel (if you are using a grinder, it helps to catch the nail ‘dust’)
- Some styptic powder and gauze (in case of accidents) – I like this Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder
2. Position Your Chihuahua
You need to find a position that’s comfortable for your Chihuahua while giving you control.
You could have your dog facing away from you with your arm around them (sort of like hugging them against your body). Alternatively, you could have them facing you and ask them to give you their paw
With my dogs, I prefer to lie them on their back on a comfy cushion, but I wouldn’t recommend this for all dogs as it’s a very vulnerable position for them. I got mine used to it from an early age because I live with disabilities and it’s the best way for me to do it.
3. Trim Excess Fur
It’s best to trim any excess fur around the nails so you can see clearly, and so it doesn’t get caught in the clippers or grinder. You can use a pair of dog grooming scissors.
4. Find the Quick
Before trimming, you need to check for the quick. It’s a soft bit inside the nail that has lots of blood vessels and nerves, so you want to make sure you don’t cut it.
If your dog has light-coloured nails, you should be able to see the quick clearly – it’s the pink bit!
If their nails are black like my Chihuahua’s, keep checking for a white bit in the middle of the nail. If the white bit disappears and you see a dark bit, you’re close to the quick!
5. Trim Their Nails
If you’re using clippers, insert a tiny bit of the nail and clip at a 45-degree angle to avoid the quick. You can continue to take little bits off the nail if you feel more is needed.
If you’re using a grinder, put your towel underneath your Chihuahua. Hold your dog’s nail against the grinder for a few seconds at a time with little breaks in between. This stops their nails from getting too hot. Keep going until you’re happy with the length.
Continue until you’ve trimmed all of your dog’s nails, including their dewclaws.
6. Offer Breaks and Rewards
You can stop and let your dog have a break whenever you need to. You can continue later, or even another day!
Give your dog some treats and lots of praise at regular intervals. This reassures them and helps them to associate nail trimming with positive things!
Top tip: If your Chihuahua is very wriggly or distressed, try dog-safe peanut butter on a lick mat or have someone else hold it on a spoon to distract them.
What If You Cut Into the Quick?
If you do accidentally cut into the quick, don’t panic! That’s why you have that styptic powder on hand we talked about earlier!
The styptic powder helps the blood to clot which will stop the bleeding. Put some of the styptic powder on gauze or a cotton pad and press it against the bleeding nail firmly for a couple of minutes.
Afterwards, keep the injury clean and covered until it’s healed to prevent infection.
If the bleeding doesn’t stop after five minutes, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Is It Hard to Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails?
Trimming your Chihuahua’s nails can be a bit tricky at first (they can be a bit stubborn). Getting them used to nail trims early on and providing lots of positive reinforcement is key to success.
If you find nail trims too stressful or don’t feel you can manage at home, there’s no shame in taking your dog to a professional groomer or vet to get their nails trimmed.