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

by Glenda Taylor
Use a dremel to trim your dog's nails.

Use a dremel to trim your dog's nails.

Author image

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.

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.

Items You Will Need

  • Dremel
  • Cylindrical bit
  • Hollow-tip bit (optional)

Tips

  • Grind only the tips of your dog's nails. On a dog with translucent nails, stop before you reach the pink cuticle visible inside the nail. On a dog with dark nails, it is harder to determine where the cuticle is, so use caution and trim slowly.
  • A dog's cuticle will retract slightly from the tip of his nail over a period of months if you trim regularly. The more often you trim, the more the cuticle will recede, enabling you to trim his nails shorter. Typically, the shorter a dog's nails are, the less chance there is that he will snag one and injure himself.

Warnings

  • Keep a spinning dremel away from long hair, loose clothing and your dog's fur.
  • Do not permit your dog to sniff a spinning dremel, as doing so may injure his nose.

Photo Credits

  • Author image

About the Author

Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.