Do-Good Nail Trims

No need for a nail-biter — starting this weekend, you can take your pet to Paws to Groom in Marlborough the first Saturday of the month and have the capable staff give him or her a discounted nail trim while supporting an animal rescue organization.

The kickoff for the $5 nail trim (normally the service is $10) is this Saturday, Jan. 7, at the dog and cat grooming and boarding facility at 89 Main St. (Route 101). Proceeds this month will support Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue in South Acworth.

“I wanted to do something fun as a way to give back to all these (animal rescue) groups doing tremendous work,” said Gwen Shaw, Paws to Groom and Paws for Awhile manager. “Any little we can send will help.”

Owner Deb Sylvain came up with the idea. Of course, clients are welcome to donate whatever additional amount they’d like.

The fundraiser, which will be offered as a walk-in service, will be held each first Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The next two recipients will be Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue in Hudson, Mass., and Green Mountain Pug Rescue in Mendon, Vt. Local/regional groups will be the focus in the early months and national/international organizations (such as the ASPCA) may be in the future.

For very active dogs who run all day long on varied surfaces, cutting nails may not be necessary because the nails wear down naturally. Less active dogs or dogs who only walk on soft surfaces will need a regularly scheduled nail trim.

When a dog’s toenails contact hard ground, the hard surface pushes the nail back up into the nail bed. This either puts pressure on all the toe joints or forces the toe to twist to the side, making them very sore or even arthritic and can lead to bigger problems such as a painful or weak hind end.

In-between visits to the groomer, pet owners may want to do some maintenance by trimming their pet’s nails themselves. Ideally, you should start handling your pet’s feet when they are young so they become accustomed to the process.

You can make nail trimming low-stress and even fun by always associating nail cutting with treats and praise. Before even bringing clippers to your dog’s nails, let him sniff the nail clipper and give a treat and praise.

Do the same after touching the nail clipper lightly to each paw, and after squeezing the clipper so your dog hears the sound. If he lets you, just clip one nail a day, repeating until every nail is trimmed and your dog doesn’t seem to mind. Even pretending you are clipping and going through the motions help your pup get used to the whole process.

When you do clip, use only scissor-type — not guillotine-type — clippers. Guillotine-style clippers crush the toe, which is painful. Unless you have a giant-breed dog, always use small-sized clippers for better control, sharpening or replacing them regularly.

Always trim nails outside or in a well-lit room, and if you need “cheaters” for reading, use them for toenail clipping. Pick up a paw and firmly, but gently, place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way.

Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail. Use your fingers to separate the toes for clipping and hold the paw gently — don’t squeeze the toe.

Never put the whole nail in a clipper. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting what is called the quick (the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels). A nick there is painful and will bleed.

For dogs with dark nails, watch for a chalky white ring around the quick. File only the insensitive nail around the top and sides of the quick.

If you cut the quick, use corn starch to stop the bleeding. With shallow cuts, this will be rare. Don’t forget to include the dewclaws, located on the inner side of the paw.

For pet owners who aren’t comfortable with cutting their pet’s nails, Shaw has a valuable piece of advice.

“Err on the side of ‘less is more,’” she said.

For more information, visit

pawsforawhile.com.