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Should You Use a Nail Grinder on Your Dog’s Nails?

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So many of us (me included) have trouble clipping our dogs’ nails. I’m a former dog groomer, and I still hate clipping my dogs’ nails, mainly because they don’t like it. 

chihuahua getting nails grinded and photo of a nail grinder

It’s a necessary evil though that has to be done to keep our fur kids healthy.

I first tried a nail grinder about 5 years ago when I had Kilo (RIP).  Before that I had only used nail clippers. Using the grinder on her was so much easier than the clippers. With the nail clippers, my son would have to hold her while I clipped her nails but she never minded the nail grinder and it would only take one of us to grind them instead of two of us to clip them.

Below is a photo of my son grinding Kilo’s nails:

The grinder I had worked well but finally stopped working and I was looking for a new one. 

I wanted one that was quiet so as not to scare the dogs, easy to hold and would accommodate my little dogs, my sugar gliders and should we get another big dog I wanted it work well on their nails too (I have had big dogs in the past and our last big girl passed a few months ago).  

So, should you use a nail grinder on your dog’s nails?

Nail Clippers Versus Nail Grinder

When you learn how to use a nail grinder on your dog’s nails properly, you will find that it is a perfectly safe alternative to nail clippers. One of the biggest advantages of a nail grinder over nail clippers is safety.

When you grind your dog’s nails, you do so in short and quick spurts. This gives you ample time to see the quick of the dog’s nail before you cut it, which is hard to do when you are clipping the nails.

Pros and Cons of a Nail Grinder

Below you will find a few pros and cons to using a nail grinder over nail clippers for your dog’s nails.

Pros

  • Good for dogs who may get anxious when it is time to clip their nails
  • Helps achieve round, smooth nails, so there are no sharp edges
  • If your dog has thick nails, the grinder can easily grind them down while it may be a challenge to use clippers
  • Usually comes with a safety guard to help protect your dog’s paw

Cons

  • It is still possible to hit the quick if you grind down too long
  • It usually takes longer to grind nails, than to clip them
  • Some grinders can be loud and can sometimes scare your pup
  • When grinding your dog’s nails, there may be a smell and dust (though that hasn’t been my experience). So, you may want to grind their nails outside or wear a mask while doing so

Ultimately, it is really up to what you prefer, and which method will work best with your dog’s personality. If you have a skittish dog that is scared easily, then you may want to consider the nail clippers as it will be quicker instead of a grinding tool, or it may be a challenge every time you need to trim their nails. Although I’d still give the nail grinder a try as many dogs are far more terrified of the nail clippers than of the nail grinder.

Whichever you decide, you need to take your time, go slowly, and only do a little bit at a time to avoid the quick. Once you begin grinding a small part of the nails, the quick begins to retract from the nail’s edge. This will make it easier to clip more the next time. Avoid clipping or grinding too much of the nail at a time.

Other Dog Nail Grinder Features to Consider

Safety

We all want our pets to be safe, so safety should be a top priority no matter what we purchase for them. Find a nail grinder that has a safety guard included. This helps ensure that you don’t cut the nails down too far and protects the dog’s paw while you are grinding their nails. The safety guard allows you to see how far down you are grinding the nails.

Noise Level

Having a grinder or Dremel tool that is too loud can startle your pup and make it harder for them to sit still while you are trimming their nails. So, try to find a dog nail grinder that is quiet and under fifty decibels.

Easy to Use

You don’t want to fight with your dog nail grinder, so find a grinding tool that is easy to use and comfortable to hold. It shouldn’t be too big or too bulky, especially since you also have to hold your dog’s paw in your hand as well.

Power Source

When choosing a dog nail grinder, it is also a good idea to find a battery-operated grinder or one that can be charged, so you aren’t limited to where the nail trimming takes place. It is also much more portable so you can have easy nail grooming as needed.

I got the chance to try out the LuckyTail grinder.  I wasn’t paid to do this review, but I did get the grinder free and I will get a small commission if you buy one through my link

It looked to have exactly what I wanted in a nail grinder so I was glad to give it a try.

What I Liked About the LuckyTail Dog Nail Grinder:

Lucky Tail nail grinder

  • It fits comfortably in my hand.
  • It has two sides, one for larger nails and one for smaller nails. (see photo to the below).

hand holding nail grinder

  • It was quiet
  • It came with a USB charging cable so no power cords to get in the way or batteries to deal with.
  • There are two little lights that help you see what you are doing when grinding your dog’s nails.

 What I Didn’t Like About the LuckyTail Dog Nail Grinder

  • It took longer to use than dog nail clippers. But this is true for any nail grinder. You only touch it to the nail for up to 5 seconds at a time, so it definitely took longer than just clipping it.
  • You can’t buy it on Amazon (yet) and I tend to buy almost everything on Amazon.

To learn more about this grinder or to buy it, click the button below:
Buy button

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

If you are a dog owner, then you know how frustrating and challenging it can be when it comes time to cut your dog’s nails. You may also feel a tad bit anxious because of the horror stories you may have heard about cutting the nails too short to the quick.

Here’s an illustration of where the quick is in the nail and how it looks before and after clipping:

drawing of dog nail before and after clipping

The quick is a vein or a nerve that runs into each nail. If you nick this, it can be a bloody mess, and your canine companion may lose trust in you when it comes to nail trimming time. Even some of the most experienced dog owners have found themselves at one time or another accidentally running into this problem when nail grinding and nail trimming. It is especially difficult to tell where the quick is exactly when your dog has black nails and are darker in color.

If you cut the quick, it is good to have some styptic powder on hand to help stop the bleeding. The styptic powder contains astringents and antihemorrhagic agents that promote coagulation and can help stop the bleeding quickly.

Tips for Nail Trimming

yorkshire terrier getting nails ground

  • Nail trimming should be done when your dog is calm and relaxed. Taking them for a nice walk right before is a good idea as well.
  • Before nail trimming, inspect your dog’s paw to make sure it is free of any dirt and debris.
  • Before turning the nail grinder on, touch your dogs toes with it so they get the feel of it first,
  • You should then hold your dog firmly but gently in place during the nail trimming, so they stay still and safe.
  • You can then use the nail grinder or nail clippers taking care to avoid the quick. If you accidentally cut into the quick, use the styptic powder to stop the bleeding
  • When you use a nail grinder, you can round out and smooth the dog’s nails nicely. However, if you use nail clippers or another kind of nail trimmer, you will want to take the time to use an emery board to round off and smooth their nails before you let them go.
  • Use a grinder every 3 to 4 weeks on your dog’s nails.

Have you ever used a nail grinder on your dog’s nails? Or would you consider using one? Let me know your experience in the comments! And if your interested in getting a nail grinder for your dog, check out the Lucky Tail grinder here.

Cathy

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Kaspek

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Hi, some other sources say Luckytail is the best dog nail grinder. I found article where it is said that Luckytail is #1 https://ourpetsmag.com/the-10-best-electric-dog-nail-grinders-of-2020/

Cathy

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

I agree with them. It is a really good nail grinder.

Cathy Mayfield

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Thank you, Cathy. I live in a housing authority so I live under poverty level. I still take her to Dapper Dog for $18-$20 to get her nails trimmed. I’m late now for it....I gave up when she would squirm herself right out from my grip! So frustrating!

Cathy

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Yeah, doing their nails isn't the easiest thing to do and they make it harder when they fight you on it.

Vickie Tima

Saturday 12th of December 2020

I started using a nail grinder on all my dogs in 2012. I now have one that is so quiet my new pup does not mind it too much. He is still learning to be pampered a little.

Cathy

Monday 14th of December 2020

Yes, those quiet ones are a life saver!

Valerie Manon

Friday 11th of December 2020

I tried using a Dremel years ago before they came out with the small modern ones they have today. I am considering getting one as I like the end result. Even more so after reading your article.

Cathy

Friday 11th of December 2020

I used a dremel too with my crafts and tried it once on one of my dogs. they were terrified of the sound. Many of the nail grinders out there are a lot quieter and not nearly as scary. If you get one, let me know how you like it.

Barbara Betancourt

Saturday 20th of June 2020

Hi Kathy, yes I am thinking on buying one, one time I clip my little Snowy nails and hit the quick, I got so scare, ever since than I have been taking him to the salon to have his nails clip. I still will purchase the nail grinder and try it, since Snowy is all white it is easy to see where the quick is, he moves around a lot. Wish me luck.