How to Use a Dremel to Trim a Dog's Nails

By Glyn Sheridan


If left untrimmed, a dog's nails may become long and unsightly, clicking on the floor as he walks and increasing the risk of snagging and tearing. While some dogs have relatively little trouble with long nails, other dogs suffer from ragged nails that cut their skin when they scratch. A dremel is an invaluable tool in a dog groomer's arsenal; with a little practice, you can use a dremel to trim your dog's nails.
Use a dremel to trim your dog's nails.

Step 1

Secure your dog. Every dog reacts differently to the sound and sensation created by a dremel, and until your dog becomes used to it, he may struggle or run away. A grooming table with an overhead arm to which you can attach the leash is optimal, but you can recruit an assistant to help hold your dog or you can tie your dog's leash to a post or other sturdy object.

Step 2

Fit the dremel with a cylindrical bit or an inverted bit. The inverted bit with a hollow-tip works very well because your dog's nail fits right inside the hollow area. Check hobby stores for a hollow-tip bit or ask your hardware store about special-ordering one. The cylindrical bit has a flat circular tip that offers safety and control. Avoid using a very small bit or a pointed bit that can slip and injure the dog.

Step 3

Introduce your dog to the dremel slowly. Let him sniff it while it is turned off, then turn it on and off to allow him to hear the sound it makes. If your dog is frightened by the dremel, the first few trimming sessions should be very brief.

Step 4

Hold your dog's paw firmly, but don't squeeze it. Push gently on the top of the dog's paw, just above one nail, to separate that nail from the rest. This pressure will cause the nail to extend slightly. If your dog has furry paws, smooth the fur back and away from the nail or trim the fur away before using the dremel. If the dremel catches in long fur, it can injure your dog's paw.

Step 5

Touch the spinning dremel bit to the tip of your dog's nail, using very little pressure. The momentum of the dremel will grind away the tip of the nail, and using pressure may cause the tip to slip and injure your dog.

Step 6

Move the spinning tip lightly around the end of the dog's nail, taking care not to place the bit too close to the skin or fur. Keep the hand that is holding the dremel moving at all times to reduce the risk of slipping.

Step 7

Speak reassuringly to your dog and take a break after a few nails, offering your dog a treat or praise for being so good before continuing. A few short sessions are less traumatic than one long session.
Comments (5)
Aug 17, 2009 puppyluvin
I am in the process of getting my dog used to the dremmel. Our first step is not even to go near the nails. As you know, most dogs don't like their feet touched. I secure her and turn on the dremmel. She's fairly used to the noise now, so I moved on to step 2 which is "massaging" her back and head with the body (not the head) of the dremmel so she can get used to the vibration feeling. The next step will be to massage her legs, moving down toward the feet. It's my feeling that once your dog has a bad experience with the dremmel (i.e., forcing the use right away) it will continue to be a problem. Hope my suggestions help. I will let you know how my step 2 and step 3 go. Thanks.
Dec 15, 2009 Grumps
Good ideas posted. I will certainly give it a go. Max's dew claws are getting to be talons for crying out loud. Rips right through the skin.
Mar 7, 2011 agatormom
I have been using a Dremel tool for my dog's nails for over 40 years. I have found that with the higher RPM there is a lot of heat created so use extreme caution when touching the tool to your dog's nails. I use my thumb after each touch to the nail so I know when the nail is cooled again and I can repeat the 'filing'.
Nov 20, 2011 Bookie
I have been trimming my Great Danes nails with the right angle dremel and I use the cutting disc a d secure the nail and cut straight through. This eliminates the amt of time on each nail and you are able to see the quick very easily. After I cut the nail I round off the edges. I keep baby wipes available to wipe and cool the nails. Yes you do have to get them used to the sound, and may have to have a helper secure the dog. Have a treat handy to give. Try doing a nail and letting them smell the dremel after and give a treat till they understand it isnt a bad thing. Mt Dane used to hate clipping nails until I started dremeling them, then it was no big thing. I do recommend if you have a large dog doing this outside or in your garage because it smells like burning hair! I also wear safety glasses and a dust mask. Their nails are dirty and the dust could get in your eyes and lungs. Good luck, I hope this helps!
Aug 17, 2013 pgurney
My dog groomer uses the Dremel to file her client's nails. She showed me how to use it between visits, so I purchased a Dremel tool which came with the attachment she uses. Now that we do all the grooming ourselves, the Dremel has become invaluable.
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