Nail Grinders for Dogs: What They Are and How To Use Them

Trimming your dog’s nails is a painful process. A pair of clippers will wear down over time, and it’s easy to make a mistake. The last thing we want is to hurt our pup. Many owners outsource the job for this reason. But all those groomers’ appointments can add up.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Nail grinders are an excellent way to handle all your nail trimming needs in-house. Rather than cutting the nail, nail grinders wear down the nail, allowing for precision and reducing the risk of any unfortunate accidents.

What are nail grinders?

Nail grinders are like electric nail files. Rather than cutting, a rotating grinder bit uses friction to wear away at your dog’s nails. This amounts to an easier and less painful experience than using a traditional nail trimmer.

The downside to nail grinders is that they are less straightforward. Grinding nails doesn’t always feel intuitive. Nail grinders might require a little assembly and must be charged before use.

If this is your first time using a nail grinder on your dog, you’ll first want to familiarize your dog with the grinder. This is a process that will take days or weeks. Let your dog inspect and sniff the grinder, then reward her with treats and praise. Slowly, work up her comfort by touching the grinder to her paws, then give more treats and praise. When your pup is no longer timid around the grinder, you can begin with just one nail. Grind only a small bit and give treats and praise throughout the process. 

How do you use a nail grinder?

Before you begin, make sure that no hair is in the way. If your dog has long hair, that might mean trimming some fur to eliminate any chance that it gets caught in the grinder.

Start by securing your dog. You may need two people to complete the job—one to hold and the other to grind. Only focus on one nail at a time. Start at the bottom of the nail and slowly bring it around the top. Once you’ve reached the top, work your way back down and repeat. There is no need to use force. Lightly touch the grinder to your dog’s nail.

The goal is to wear down the sharp tip without reaching the nail’s quick, which is the living park of the nail that supplies blood. This will look like a white chalky ring.

Check out this TikTok for a live demonstration proper nail grinding technique:

@rubydooby_do

taking advantage of the 3min videos. how I trim Ruby’s nails. I do it weekly to keep them nice & short @augustspawbalm #dogsoftiktok #doberman

♬ original sound – Ruby the Zipper Nose Doberman

Grinders will usually have different speed settings. The faster the RPM, the faster it will grind your dog’s nails. But all that friction leads to heat. If you grind too much too fast, then your pet’s nails can get hot and cause your pet pain. This is easy to avoid, though. Don’t use too high of a speed, and don’t grind at one nail for too long.

One potential problem is noise. Because they are electric, all nail grinders will make noise that could potentially frighten your pet. Luckily, most manufacturers design their nail grinders with this in mind and make sure they’re quiet enough to keep pets relaxed. Familiarize your pet before you begin, making sure to let them hear the noise of the grinder.

While nail grinders are safer than trimmers, accidents can still happen. Have a towel on hand just in case, and don’t feel too bad if things don’t get 100% perfect the first time around.

What kinds of dogs are nail grinders good for?

Nail grinders are for any dog. As long as your dog is can remain calm and still for a few minutes, then a nail grinder can work for your dog. And most grinders come with multiple grinder bits, so you can pick the one that works best for your pet.

How do you choose the best nail grinder?

Different size dogs need different grinder bits. If your dog is very small, you will want a nail grinder that has either a cover or a small grinder bit. Most nail grinders will come with multiple pieces that accommodate dogs of all sizes.

Tougher nails need faster grinding speeds. If your dog has very tough nails, you’ll want to invest in a grinder that can reach at least 8000 RPM. 

If your dog has dark fur and dark nails, you might need some extra light to guide you. Many grinders have LED guide lights for this purpose.

Otherwise, the deciding factor is probably price. A grinder with all the bells and whistles will be at least $50, but there are many great nail grinders in the $20-$30 price range.

Still don’t know what to pick? Thankfully, DogFriendly.com has put together a list of our favorite nail grinders for dogs.

Tyler Kupcho
Author: Tyler Kupcho

Animal lover, proud husky parent. Writing Intern at DogFriendly.com

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