How to clip your Greyhounds' nails.

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Many pet Greyhound owners are nervous of clipping their dogs' nails (for some reason, with Greyhounds everyone calls claws nails!). However it's quite easy once you know a couple of key tips...

1. When to clip

If your dog gets a lot of walking on hard surfaces, the nails may not need clipping at all, or only the front paws may need clipping. Otherwise you'll need to trim them, perhaps once a month or so.

It's OK for your dog to audibly click-click with their claws as they walk on hard surfaces, but when they're standing still there should be a slight gap between each nail and the ground. You can check this by trying to slide a piece of paper under them.

Some dogs have the doggy equivalent of "flat feet" and will never wear their nails down to the right length whatever walking they do, and the test with a piece of paper doesn't apply. If you're not sure, ask at your vet's - veterinary nurses are often expert and will quickly tell you the best length, and many run clinics to trim nails and demonstrate.

These nails in the photo are OK, they are worn down rather than cut, but about the maximum length you should allow.

2. How to clip

Black nails are harder to clip than white ones because you can't see the quick (which is a pinkish shape inside the nail). The quick keeps growing with the nail, down towards the end of the nail, so if you let the nail grow too long you can't cut it right back without cutting into the quick. Cutting the quick is painful and causes bleeding. So the thing is to clip little and often.

Use a pair of proper dog claw clippers, nice and sharp. Cut more or less vertically (relative to the nail's normal position when the dog is standing), and cut off just a millimetre or so at a time, so that it's the tip of the nail that you're cutting through, not the whole thing.

Hold the nail firmly so it doesn't move, then cut FAST. This is the other crucial aspect - you need to really commit to the cut and close the clipper handles with speed and power, rather than squeezing. If you bring the pressure on gradually by squeezing, the claw will compress and the quick will be squashed, bringing an early squeak from your dog and putting both of you off the whole business.

3. After step 1

This photo shows the nail after the first snip off the tip...

4. Finish

Repeat to take another millimetre or so off, then quit while you're ahead. If you hurt your Greyhound it will all become more difficult next time, and you'll be tempted to put it off as well. With the tip cut back, the remaining nail end will wear down much faster and the quick will recede ready for next time.

Don't forget the Dew claws on the indside of the front legs, if they get too long they'll be more likely to catch in things.

If you have a dog who's had bad experiences in the past, he may get very anxious as you get ready. It rarely happens but if it seems so bad you're unsure whether he might snap at you out of fear, use your muzzle to start with. After a few pain-free sessions he'll start to relax.

Another way to help if your Greyhound is yelping in anticipation of pain, is to have someone lift him up while you trim his nails. For some reason, if they're being lifted Greyhounds generally don't squeak!