Your free guide to clipping dog nails, safely and without cutting into the quick. Read on to learn how to trim your Cocker Spaniel's nails without tantrums or tears - his, not yours!
Let me explain a little about your dog's nails before we move on to the practical steps of how to cut or trim them - the last thing we want to do is hurt or injure our Cocker Spaniel so we need to get it right.
The inner part of the nail is called the 'quick' and it's very sensitive.
The quick supplies the blood vessels and nerves to help keep your Cocker's toenails healthy.
You must take great care not to cut into the quick because not only will it bleed quite freely, it will also be very painful for your little boy!
If you do cut into the quick and he's hurt, you may inadvertently create a negative association with nail trimming, which may make it much more difficult for you the next time, because he'll remember his painful experience.
Read on to learn how to see where the quick ends and where it's safe to cut.
Take a look at your pet's claws.
If they're white, or lightly colored, you should be able to see the quick quite clearly: it's inside the center of the claw, it's pinkish in color, and it tapers to a point towards the end of the nail.
If your Cocker Spaniel has black or dark colored dog nails, it may be more difficult to work out where the quick ends simply because it will be more difficult to see against a darker nail.
Being able to see where the quick ends will make the job much easier and you'll have a better chance of avoiding cutting through it when trimming each dog nail.
However, no matter whether your Cocker Spaniel has light or dark claws, it's best to take it slowly and only trim off small bits at a time.
dog nails are allowed to grow too long, the quick will move further
down the nail as it grows; however the good news is that as you trim the claw back, the
quick will recede.
While some Spaniels don't seem to mind having their nails cut others will struggle and try to make it as difficult as possible - like mine, for example!
If your dog's not used to having his nails trimmed, start slowly and work up to it gradually. You can follow this link for details of how to acclimatise your dog (or your puppy) to having his nails trimmed.
Try to keep the pedicure session relaxed and fun and don't get stressed, otherwise your pet will pick up on your anxiety making it more likely that he'll struggle.
Some dogs can become so nervous that there's a danger they may bite, so if your pet really struggles against you, you may need to play it safe and muzzle him.
If you plan to cut his nails on a table or worktop, it's best to place a non-slip mat onto the surface to stop him from slipping and sliding (a bath mat is ideal!) and if it's possible, have someone hold his head and talk to him while you work.
Alternatively, you can lay him on the floor with his back to you and his legs pointing away and if he struggles, you can place your forearm gently across his neck to restrain him.
If you extend his front left leg, and hold the paw firmly, this should stop him from pushing himself up into a standing position.
Another position you may want to experiment with is holding him upright in your lap with his back to your body. Personally, I find it much easier to cut dog nails this way.
Dog nails should be checked and trimmed every 2-3 months depending on where your pet is exercised.
If he's walked mostly on pavement it shouldn't be necessary to cut them too often because the friction of the concrete will wear them down naturally. However, if he's walked in the countryside, on the beach, or in the park, they may need to be trimmed more often.
Long or badly cut dog nails can scratch human skin, particularly children's delicate skin, and they can also be a danger themselves as your dog could easily injure himself while scratching at his ears for example.
Failure to keep your dog's nails trimmed can also lead to health problems. For example, if they grow too long they risk breaking off which can cause injury, bleeding, and infection.
Long nails can also damage polished wooden floors, carpets and furniture.
Where they're are allowed to grow too long they can make walking quite difficult and if left for long enough could lead to permanent skeletal damage.
Dog nails shouldn't touch the ground when the paws are flat on the floor, so if they grow beyond the
pads of your Cocker Spaniel's feet, or you can hear them click on a
tiled floor or on the pavement, you'll know it's time to trim them!
You will need to have several tools nearby when cutting your pets claws:
"Cutting Cocker Spaniel dog nails shouldn't be
a traumatic experience - either for you or your dog!"
Even the most experienced groomer or vet may accidentally cut into the quick when trimming dog nails. So if it happens to you, don't feel too bad about it - it was an accident!
You can stop any bleeding with the styptic pen, powder or a little cornflour pressed onto the source of bleeding. If none of those are readily available, you could try pressing a tissue or a clean towel onto the freshly clipped nail until the bleeding stops.
If bleeding shows no signs of stopping within 5 minutes or so it might be advisable to take your Cocker to the vet for professional treatment.
The more regularly you trim his nails, the further the quick will recede, making it much easier to cut each time without cutting into the quick, and also allowing you to trim the nails as far back as they need to be, ie., level with his pads.
If you're still unsure about cutting and trimming dog nails, why not take your Cocker Spaniel to a grooming parlour or to your vets for his first trim? That way, you'll be able to watch exactly how it should be done.
could even ask them to show you how, step by step, so that the next
time your dog's nails need trimming you will have the confidence to trim
Your Cocker Spaniel may also have two dew claws which can be found behind each front leg and slightly above the paw.
Very often these claws get snagged on brambles and shrubs when rummaging about in the undergrowth and can be easily damaged or ripped off.
A torn dew claw can be very painful and can cause bleeding and subsequent infection. If your Cocker frequently has problems with his dew claws being snagged, the vet may recommend they be surgically removed.
Dew claws don't normally make contact with the ground when the animal is standing, although they may do so when they're running, and it's because they don't come into contact with the ground that they don't wear down (like normal claws). So if your pet still has them, they'll need to be trimmed periodically.
However, there's a good chance that your dog's dew claws have already been removed because nowadays many Cocker Spaniel breeders have them snipped off shortly after the puppies are born.
You can learn more about your dog's dew claws here.