Saturday is dog manicure day for my pack. Nail trimming used to be a stressful experience for all of us, before my tool of choice was the friendly Dremel 7300-PT two-speed cordless grinder. Now, it’s a total doggie salon scene.
Seriously, when I get out their Dremel tool, my dogs come lie down nearby and wait their turn to have their nails nicely shortened up and rounded off smooth.
Nail trimming is a dog care basic.
Over-long nails can affect a dog’s gait and cause unnatural wear on the paw pads, pain in the hips and spine, and lack of traction on slippery surfaces. For a dog who needs all the stability he can get – like an elderly dog with a wobbly back end or my epileptic greyhound, for example – it is even more important to keep those claws short for their own safety. Not to mention the potential for scratches on your nice hardwood floor!
Grinding is the easy, painless way to trim a dog’s nails.
Once you’ve tried grinding instead of clipping, I bet you won’t want to go back to the old way.
Even with really good clippers, made for the hard thick nails of large dogs like my greyhounds, they didn’t enjoy the squeezing feeling on their nails – and they certainly didn’t enjoy it when I accidentally cut too short and hit the live “quick” of a nail. Oh, the guilt about causing my beloved pups any pain!
Well, I am a lot better with the clippers now, but we only pull them out when a foster dog comes in with extra-long nails that need to be shortened a lot so he can walk properly. My own dogs get regular “pedicures” to keep their claws short.
When you’ve got down to a proper (short) length, keeping the nails in trim is a matter of a minute or two with a rotary grinder.
Go for the Cordless Model
The first battery-powered grinder I bought for doggie manicures was the old Dremel 750-02 Minimite. I loved the cordless convenience – so much easier than a grinding tool with a cord to get in the way – and found it easy to handle, lightweight and a good fit for even a small female hand.
About 4 years of heavy use in, however, the rechargeable battery pack eventually stopped holding a charge for long enough to grind down the nails of more than one dog at a session. It was time to upgrade.
I went for the new Dremel 7300-PT 4.8-Volt Pet Grooming Kit for my new one. They have improved the rechargeable battery pack and charger (3 hours to recharge), compared to the old Minimite.
In most other respects it is the same as the older model that I was very satisfied with. And it now comes with a two-year warranty.
How To Grind Dog Nails with a Rotary Dremel Tool
For a few practical tips right now – how short to go, for example, and how to know when to stop grinding – have a look at this very short video. It shows quite clearly the change in the coloring of the dog’s nail when you’re starting to get near the quick.
Anyone can learn to Dremel a dog’s nails.
Relax! It’s very difficult to do this wrong – especially with the cordless Dremel 7300-PT. It weighs only a pound and has a curvy shape that makes it easy to handle, even for small female hands. Control is important, obviously, and the shape and size helps.
Most importantly, this particular tool has two speeds. I use the low speed for cat claws, small dogs, and any big dog toes that are especially sensitive. The higher speed is good for the thick hard nails of my greyhounds and other large breeds.
One main reason I’ve stuck with the Dremel brand (after a brief ill-advised experiment with a chain-store-brand of rotary grinder) is that it’s power-controlled. The off-brand kind would rev up all by itself (so alarming!), which the Dremel doesn’t do.
Being able to dial back the power as needed – as I mentioned, there are two different power settings – means that you won’t be likely to over-heat the dog’s claw or take it too close to the quick. The more comfortable your dog, the happier he’ll be about having his nails trimmed.
The Dremel 7300-PT 4.8-Volt Pet Grooming Kit also comes with clear directions for how to use it, including training tips to help you introduce your pet to his new grooming tool.
What Grit of Sanding Band to Use?
Sanding bands are included with just about any rotary grinder you choose, but you will want to choose the right grit for the nails.
For small dogs’ nails, which tend to be softer and easier to grind, I like the 120 grit sandpaper made in a band to fit a 1/2-inch drum. 120 grit is also a good one to use on larger dogs for a finishing touch, just to smooth off jagged nails without removing too much material.
The coarser (rougher) 60 grit sanding bands make short work of long thick nails, so I like the 60 grit for really taking some of the length off the claws of larger breeds. Just keep an eye out when you get the nail down quite short, to make sure you’re not taking off too much and getting near the quick.
Tips to Dremel Nails of Nervous Dogs
If your dog is skittish, especially with unfamiliar objects and noises, don’t startle him with the rotary grinder. If you just grab a paw and jump right in with this unfamiliar tool that makes a weird noise, it will be harder to teach him to accept his pedicure than if you start off right.
The trick is to de-sensitize your dog to the sight and sound of the Dremel tool, gradually, by pairing it with lots of yummy treats.
Note, if your dog is skittish about having his paws handled at all, it helps a lot to work on that issue separately without the grinder. A gentle touch on a toe is accompanied by a tasty treat. Move up gradually to a firmer touch, always with the good treats to make a positive association with the handling, until your dog is comfortable with having his feet lifted and each toe held firmly in your fingers.
Many dogs have one or more toes that are more sensitive than the others, for some reason, so you may need to do a little extra habituation training on those ones.
For very nervous dogs, you may find it helps at first to have an assistant stand by with some excellent dog treats, distracting the dog and making him feel pretty happy about the whole experience.
If necessary, you can even start with the tool turned off, just to get the dog used to having this new object in your hand and touching his claws, without the sound and slight vibration.
When your dog is truly comfortable with having the running Dremel nearby, and is also comfortable with having his toes handled, you can move on to just gently touching the sanding drum to the tip of a nail.
Gradually build up the amount of time you spend on each nail.
Patience is key!
I find it works best to do 5 seconds or so on one nail, then move on to the next and the next, working my way back around to the first nail again and repeating the process until the pedicure is complete.
With most dogs, before long, you’ll find they come to associate the nail grinding with good things and accept the routine quite happily. And it’s no hassle to keep those claws short and smooth – just a little touch-up with the handy Dremel tool is all it takes to keep the nails neat.