Rowdy, the Beagle mix, comes in for a grooming appointment. You wash and condition his coat, remove so much shedding fur you half-fill your trash can, clean his ears and trim his nails. He looks good, feels good, and smells like a cupcake. When his human comes to get him, he joyously jumps on her, tail wagging so hard it's a blur. She yelps in pain and jumps back; you all look to see long, red, angry scratches that go from the hem of her shorts down past her knees. Those freshly trimmed claws were super sharp and did some damage to her legs when Rowdy greeted her. The happy reunion is ruined, and you offer your customer some soothing first aid spray and help her treat her injuries.
Some groomers offer nail buffing as an add-on service, but many consider using a Dremel-type tool to smooth the edges of freshly cut claws as part of regular paw care with each pet. While it is true that some dogs cannot tolerate the sound and sensation of having their nails buffed, providing this service is worthwhile when possible.
When claws are cut with nail trimmers, the remaining edges are pointy and sharp. They remain this way until the dog walks enough to wear those thin edges down. After clipping the claw, a rotary nail tool instantly smooths those edges down. Here are the benefits of this practice:
- Leaping dogs greeting their owners are less likely to scratch (and possibly injure) their human after their nails are buffed.
- A dog can injure its own skin if they scratch an itchy spot with freshly cut claws. Many pets scratch at themselves after grooming because the washing, drying, brushing, and clipping make their skin feel different. If their nails are sharp from trimming, they can cause post-grooming injuries to themselves.
- Using a Dremel-style tool to smooth claws after grooming allows the groomer to get the nail shorter than they can with a traditional trimmer.
- Pet owners notice and appreciate it when their dog's claws are nicely shortened and smooth. If I had a dollar for every time a customer said, "You get my dog's nails much shorter than anyone else," I could take myself and a groomer pal out for a lovely dinner.
To achieve optimum buffing results, trim the bulk of the length off of the claw with your favorite nail trimmer. Then use a rotary sanding tool and smooth the edges of the cut claw. Imagine you are sharpening a pencil and buff the edges all away around the circumference of the nail. This will remove excess outer layers of the claw and encourage the quick to recede a bit closer to the body each time you give that pet a "pawdicure."
Taking the time to smooth each dog's claws as a part of your complete grooming service is a good choice, and one many pet owners will notice and appreciate.
By Daryl Conner, MPS, MCG
Daryl Conner has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for almost 40 years. You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter and infant granddaughter, or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism. She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and too many animals.