How to Dremel Your Dog’s Nails

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It can be wonderful when your dog comes running up to you to jump up and lick your face. The feeling is significantly less wonderful when your dog does this with untrimmed nails. Your guests may also not be happy with an affectionate, untrimmed dog, as they constantly have to dodge their long daggers. Plus, your furniture, blankets, and floors may also suffer damage.

Trimming dog nails can be problematic, though. Most pet owners dread cutting too close to the quick (the nail bed) and accidentally causing a lot of pain in their doggy pal. And unfortunately, it can be easy to misjudge where you’re cutting and trimming too close to it. Fortunately, there’s an easier, safer method for dog nail care: Dremeling.

Why Use a Dremel on Your Dog?

If you’ve never used one before, you may be wondering what a Dremel is. A Dremel is a handheld rotary tool that you can attach different heads to. You can use your Dremel as a drill, a screwdriver, a tiny circular saw,  a tiny belt sander, and, of course, a dog nail file. Actually, Dremel is just the brand name of one of the most well-known manufacturers of these tools. However, because it’s so well known, people have just taken to calling all similar devices “Dremels,” in the same way that they call all cotton swabs “Q-tips.”

Dog Nail Grinders

Several companies, Dremel included, make rotary grinding tools specifically meant for use on dogs’ nails. Using one to Dremel your dog’s nails is unnecessary, as any general Dremel tool will do the job just as well. However, a dog nail grinder tends to be smaller and lower-powered. This makes them a little easier to hold for long periods and lessens the noise they make, making the whole experience easier on your dog’s nerves.

How to Use a Nail Dremel

How to Use a Nail Dremel

Wondering how to safely Dremel dog nails? Follow these instructions!:

  1. Take a good look at your dog’s nails. Make sure you can identify where the quick is so that you don’t risk accidentally grinding the nail too far down. The quick will look like a slightly different colored region in the core of your dog’s nails.
  2. Put a sanding head on your Dremel tool. A finer grit is better than a coarser one.
  3. Put the speed on a relatively low setting.
  4. Plug in your pet nail grinder, or make sure it’s charged up if it’s a cordless model.
  5. Put on some eye protection. While you may think this step is unnecessary, it’s important to remember that the rotary head of your Dremel is spinning at a rate of hundreds, even thousands of rotations per minute. It can throw tiny chips of nails a surprising distance. Not only would you feel foolish if you end up hurting your eye in a doggy nail Dremeling accident, but it would also hurt a lot.
  6. Lay your dog down on their side on the floor within easy reach of your Dremel.
  7. Kneel down, placing your knees on your dog’s back. In this position, you can easily reach your dog’s nails and keep them from wiggling around too much while taking care of them.
  8. Place a treat down next to your dog’s head to distract them. A bone or chew toy can do, too. You might even want to put peanut butter on the floor for them to lick while getting their pedicure. Anything that makes them happy will do.
  9. Pet your dog and say something reassuring in a soothing voice.
  10. Turn on the Dremel.
  11. Place your dogs paw against the palm of your free hand.
  12. Separate out the claw you want to work on with your fingers.
  13. Run the Dremel over the edge and tip of your pets nail, sanding away the excess length. Keep the Dremel moving, or the intense rotary action will build up enough heat to slightly burn your dog’s nail bed.
  14. As you work, make sure you smooth away any rough edges. Try to work as quickly as possible to keep your dog from stressing out too much, but make sure you complete the job. Reassure your dog periodically that everything’s alright and closely monitor your dog’s reactions.
  15. Repeat this process with each claw.

Pro Tips

Here are some pro tips for making sure that your Dremel session goes smoothly:

  • Dremel your dog’s nails over a hardwood or linoleum floor instead of over a carpet. It’s much easier to clean up afterward.
  • It’s best to Dremel your dog’s nails fairly frequently instead of waiting long periods between nail sessions. This way, each session is relatively short, which is a lot less stressful for your dog (and much easier on you!).
  • Some dogs just won’t stay still for long enough to let you take care of their nails. Some dogs may become terrified by the noise of a Dremel, just as some become aggravated by the vacuum cleaner. If your dog makes it too difficult to do the Dremeling, then it’s probably best to treat your dog to a professional dog grooming. Professional groomers know how to handle problematic dogs. Never force your dog to stay still if they struggle too much. One or both of you could end up hurt that way.

Should I Dremel My Dog’s Nails?

Keeping your dog’s nails short is essential as a pet owner. Your dog will not only benefit from trimmed nails but will be less likely to injure themselves while scratching an itch and will stop snagging their nails on carpets when they walk. Additionally, excessively long nails can make it challenging to put their paws down properly when walking. This can lead to pain and difficulty getting enough exercise.

Dremeling your dog’s nails instead of trimming them with standard dog nail clippers is a great way to trim your pup’s nails to a perfect length without worrying about accidentally cutting the quick. Anyone who has accidentally cut a dog’s quick with a nail clipper knows how devastating this can be for both yourself and your furry best friend. Using a Dremel makes this occurrence much less likely and can allow dog nail trimming to be a more pleasant experience overall.

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