Trimming your dogs nails can be nervewracking, especially if you’ve ever accidentally trimmed too short and cut the quick of the nail.
Luckily, there is an alternative to helping alleviate those long, sharp nails on your dog between routine nail trims. Introducing a dog nail file!
Dog nail files are similar to the types of nail files people use, though they are specifically designed for your dog’s unique nails. Is your dog a good candidate for a nail file? Let’s find out.
First, Let’s Talk A Bit About Your Dog’s Nails
Your dog’s nails can tell you a lot about your dog’s overall health.
Though they are often referred to as claws, your dog’s nails are actually just that – nails. Just like your fingernails, your dog’s nails are made of a protein called keratin, which is quick to grow and will continue to grow until it is ground down, filed, or trimmed.
Nails are oval in shape and thicker where they meet the paw pad. They grow out and narrow into points at the base.
At the center of the dog’s nail is what is known as a quick, which is a bundle of nerves and blood vessiles that help keep the nails healthy.
Unfrotunatly, if you trim your dog’s nails too short and cut into the quick, the nails will bleed. Worse, this is quite painful for the dog and can even lead to infections down the road if not properly cared for.
Different colord dogs have different colord nails, and the lighter the nail is the easier the quick is to see. In fact, many white dogs have clear nails, leaving a pink looking quick quite visible to the naked eye.
For dark colord dogs with dark or black nails, the quick can be invisible, making trimming their nails gently and safely uneasy for the novice and even professional nail trimmer.
So, how many nails does a dog have?
Unless there is a unique deformity or injury, all dogs generally have four nails on each of their four paws. Some dogs also have dewclaws a few inches above their paw. Some dewclaws are actually functional and are used as a thumb of sorts, helping the dog to grip things like bones, toys or chews.
However, many dewclaws are only loosely attached and are not functional at all. Not all dogs have dewclaws, but if your dog does it’s important to remember to trim that nail as well.
Unlike regular toenails on your dog’s paws, dewclaws do not hit the ground and are thus unable to naturally ground down between trims. This could lead to your dog’s dewclaws growing and curling under, which could eventually puncture your dog’s leg and cause a painful and infected wound.
All of your dog’s nails should also be trimmed down on a routine basis, and it’s important to note that a dog nail file is typically not a good replacement for a routine nail trimming.
Keep reading to learn more.
A Dog Nail File Vs A Dog Nail Trimmer – What’s The Difference?
A dog nail file does not trim your dog’s nails.
Just like you might have a nail file and a nail trimmer in your bathroom door or cabinet, your dog should have a nail file and trimmer as well.
What Is A Dog Nail Trimmer?
A dog nail trimmer is a device that is meant to clip or trim your dog’s nail in one swift cut. These trimmers can be used routinely once every few weeks when your dog’s nails become too long.
You can tell when your dog’s nails are too long when you are able to hear that little clicking sound when your dog walks on hard surfaces.
The reason it’s important to make sure you trim your dog’s nails using a quality dog nail trimmer is because nails that are left to grow too long can apply pressure to your dog’s paw pads. This can impair your dog’s ability to walk, run, and play. His paw pads could become sore and his paws could begin to spread.
When his paw pads spread, debris can more easily become caught between the pads, leading to infection and pain. If your dog’s nails are too long and his pads are spread as a result for a prolonged period of time, the foot could become deformed, leading to unrepairable damage.
The good news is that this extreme result is typically rare. For the most part, keeping your dog’s nails trimmed short is affordable and simple. You can either do it yourself or you can have your dog taken to a groomer and have it done professionally.
While many people are anxious about trimming their dog’s nails, the use of a dog nail file is particularly simple and relatively anyone can do it at home.
What Is A Dog Nail File?
A dog nail file is a file that is very similar to a human nail file. The file is made with crystal glass that creates rough ridges and edges designed to help file a dog’s nails down either immediately after a trim or in between routine trims.
Dog nail files can come in handy for a variety of reasons. First, many times after a dog has his nails trimmed, his nails will be jagged and sharp. A nail file can help file the nail down so it is blunt and less sharp.
Your dog may also snag his nail on something during play or exercise, making it more susceptible to splitting or cracking. A split or cracked nail can be painful for your dog, and filing the nail down using a dog nail file can help protect the nail and prevent a painful break.
What To Look For In A Quality Dog Nail File
There are many different types of nail files to choose from.
There are several types of dog nail file products you can choose from, and not all of them are made equally. As you would with any product you would use on your dog, it’s important to make sure you do plenty of research and ensure you are using products that are safe and effective.
Luckily, a dog nail file is pretty straightforward. In fact, if you’re in a pinch you can even use a human nail file on your dog’s nails. However, a human nail file will wear down quite quickly, while a dog nail file is designed to last much longer and provide you and your dog with a quicker result.
When looking for the best dog nail file, remember that there are two types. Dog nail files and nail grinders do provide the same service, but they are somewhat different.
A dog nail file is a hand-held device you can use to file your dog’s nails while a nail grinder is generally going to be an electric tool you can use to file your dog’s nails down more quickly.
There are pros and cons to using a hand-held dog nail file as opposed to a dog nail grinder and vise versa.
Using a dog nail file is quiet and gentle, which can be less anxiety-inducing for dogs with fears about going to the groomer or having their paws or nails handled.
However, dog nail files take more time to use and will require more manual work on your part.
A dog nail grinder, on the other hand, may be noisy, but it typically works more quickly and efficiently than a dog nail file. A dog nail grinder is also likely to cost a bit more than a dog nail file. An electric nail grinder may even be often more cumbersome than a nail file, which can be stored and easily traveled with.
Either way, choosing what is best for you is going to depend on your unique dog and your circumstances.
The Best Dog Nail File For Dogs
The right dog nail file should be suitable for your dog’s specific size and needs.
How do you choose the best dog nail file for your four-legged friend? There are so many choices and it can be difficult to decide which would be best for you.
When trying to make the right choice, we suggest considering a few factors:
Be Mindful Of Your Dog’s Size
A small dog will not need a very large or heavy-duty nail file. In fact, even your own nail file could do with very small dogs like Toy Poodles, Yorkies, or Chihuahuas. Using a nail file that is too big on a dog that is so small could make your job more difficult.
You want to use a nail file that is sized appropriately so you can see what you’re doing and do the job effectively.
On the flip side, a nail file that is too dinky and small may not provide the adequate filing power you need to get your larger dog’s nails filed down. When looking into the right nail file, be sure it will work for your particular dog.
With that noted, there are also dog nail files that are available in sizes that will work for dogs of any size, and these options are great for those who live in multi-dog households.
Choose A Dog Nail File That Is Designed To Last, But Don’t Overspend
We also recommend that you choose a dog nail file designed to last, but it’s still important not to drop too much money on a nail file for your pooch. Like human nail files, a dog nail file will eventually dull and it is likely you will need to replace it.
Still, you don’t want a nail file that is cheaply made, either. Be sure to use a file that is made with dog-safe materials and that will last long enough for you to get several good uses out of it.
Avoid Cheaply Made Dog Nail File Products That Could Break
Another reason you’ll want to avoid a cheaply made dog nail file is that they could easily break while you’re trying to file your dog’s nails. This could cause you to accidentally injure yourself or your dog during the process.
Instead, choose a sturdy nail file made of quality materials that will not bend or break.
Read Reviews And Talk To Your Groomer
When you’re on the hunt for a quality dog nail file, be sure to read the reviews. This is especially helpful if you’re buying a dog nail file online. If you’re looking for a dog nail file locally, consider speaking with your veterinarian or a groomer about the types of nail files or nail grinders they would recommend for your particular dog.
If you’re still not sure how to go about finding the best dog nail file for your dog, don’t worry. We have listed several of our favorite products for you to consider below. Take a look.
Coastal Pet Products Dog Nail File
The Coastal Pet Products Dog Nail File above is a stainless steel dog nail file designed to effectively and efficiently file your dog’s nails down.
The file is double-sided and it only takes a few quick files on each side for each nail to ensure the nails are no longer jagged and are effectively filed down.
It includes a short file that is perfectly sized for use on dogs of all sizes and a gripped handle that is easy for you to hold while you are filing your dog’s nails. The end of the dog nail file is also rounded, for safer use.
DiggerDog Nail File
Perhaps one of the more unique dogs nail files we came across that we like is the above DiggerDog Nail File. This nail file is specifically made for dogs who are particularly anxious about having their paws and nails handled, trimmed, or filed.
The product works by tapping into your dog’s natural instincts to dig. It provides a fun, interactive alternative to trimming and can help make the process more tolerable and fun for your four-legged friend and even for you!
However, this product works primarily for your dog’s front nails. It will not work on your dog’s back nails or on his dewclaws, so you may still need to invest in a traditional dog nail file or grinder for these purposes.
Bona Fide Beauty Dog Nail File
One of the more simple and traditional dog nail file products we suggest for those looking to simply file their dog’s nails down is the above-listed dog nail file by the Bona Fide Beauty store. This product can work on both dogs and cats and is suitable for those who live in multi-dog households.
It is travel-friendly and a straightforward nail file that comes in a holder to protect the file from becoming dull or ineffective prematurely.
We also like that this is a silent, smooth, and painless nail file that will make shaping and filing your dog’s nails easy and pleasant for both of you. The file is also designed to seal the keratin layers together at your dog’s nail’s edge, providing a smooth and long-lasting finish.
Dog Fashion Spaw Crystal Glass Nail File
Another straightforward but somewhat more sleek-looking dog nail file is made by Dog Fashion Spa. This nail file is made with crystal glass through and through, so as it dulls it continues to be useable. In fact, this product is guaranteed to last forever and never wear down when used properly.
The product is not only safe and effective, but it comes with its own case to help protect it from dulling. It is machine washable and safe to hand wash, and its compact size makes it easy to travel with.
It should be used after your dog’s nails are trimmed and can be used between trims to help keep your dog’s nails healthy and smooth.
WeinaBingo Dog Nail File
Last, we have the WeinaBingo dog nail file. This product is also made of crystal glass and is designed to be long-lasting and effective for a variety of animals including dogs, cats, and even birds.
The product is safe and gentle, as well as silent to help ease anxious dogs’ fears as you work on their nails. Because this is a hand-held nail file, there is no risk of accidentally cutting or filing too deep and cutting your dog’s nail quick.
This dog nail file is also made with professional quality material and is easy for you to hold while filing down even the toughest of dog nails. Though made of crystal glass, the product is made with a shatter-proof design. It is double-sided as well for different variations of filing depending on the toughness of your dog’s nails.
Routine use after trims can help keep your dog’s nails healthy and shaped while using it often can help reduce potential cracking, splitting, chipping, or peeling.
The Best Dog Nail Grinder
A dog nail grinder can help quickly shape and smooth your dog’s nails.
Another option you have to a dog nail file is a dog nail grinder. Many nail grinders are electric and work using a cord and plug. However, some nail files are battery-operated. They also range in size, but one of the many benefits of using a dog nail grinder as opposed to a dog nail file is that they can be used more long term.
Nail grinders will often come with interchangeable heads so that when the file tip wears down, it can be replaced.
While nail grinders may be more costly than a dog nail file, they may pay for themselves over time.
We have listed some of our favorite dog nail files for you to consider below. Take a look.
Casfuy Dog Nail Grinder
While dog nail files do have their purpose, sometimes using an electric nail grinder on your dog is quicker and more efficient. The above dog nail grinder is ideal for dogs of all sizes, which means you can use it seamlessly in multi-dog households.
It is made with a professional design and includes two speeds for the best precision and effects. You can also order it in three colors including black, pink, or white. The product includes a diamond drum bit grinder that is quiet, so it won’t cause your dog anxiety while filing.
Dremel PawControl Dog Nail Grinder
If you’re looking for a more efficient dog nail grinder with multiple bits, you might consider the Dremel PawControl Nail Grinder above. This nail grinder is a cordless grinder that is rechargeable and safe to use on dogs, cats, ferrets, and other small animals.
You can order this kit in three varieties including the grinder and the trimmer, the grinder, and trimmer kit which includes other accessories, or the nail grinder kit that includes sanding discs for extra tough dog nails.
The product is safe and gentle and can even be used in place of a dog nail trimmer when used as directed with different accessories.
Other Products To Help Keep Your Dog’s Nails Healthy
Dog nail files do not replace pet nail trimmers.
Along with ensuring you are taking proper care of your dog’s nails using a dog nail file or nail grinder, it’s also important to ensure your dog’s nails are routinely trimmed. Your dog’s paw pad health will also play a role in their nail health, as will their diet.
Below we have listed some of the best products you can include in your dog’s grooming kit to ensure his nails are in the best shape possible both literally and figuratively.
DogsWell Styptic Powder
Styptic powder is a must-have for anyone who is planning on trimming their dog’s nails themselves. While you can be as careful as possible, it is often too easy to accidentally trim too deep and cause your dog’s nails to bleed.
Styptic powder helps stop the bleeding immediately and is used by professional groomers. The powder is safe to use on dogs and cats. It is easy to use, though it should not be used to stop the bleeding of other wounds or cuts on your pet.
Gonicc Dog And Cat Nail Clipper
As we mentioned earlier, a dog nail file or nail grinder typically does not replace a dog nail clipper. It is still important to have your dog’s nail trimmed regularly using a quality dog nail trimmer or by taking your dog to a trusted groomer.
You can also invest in your own nail trimmer, like the one listed above. This nail trimmer includes a safety guard that is designed to reduce the chances of you accidentally cutting too deep. The nail clipper also comes with a free dog nail file to help shape the nails after trimming.
Other Tips On Keeping Your Dog’s Paws And Nails Healthy
Your dog’s nails are important to him, and it’s important to take good care of them to keep them healthy.
Your dog does a lot with his nails, and he needs them to be strong and healthy in order to ensure he can run, play, dig, eat, and more.
The health of your dog’s nails can also tell you a lot about your dog’s overall physical wellbeing, so it’s very important to keep an eye on your dog’s nails and monitor any sudden changes.
Here are a few tips and tricks for ways you can help promote nail health in your dog.
Keep Your Dog On A Quality Dog Food
You are what you eat, and the same goes for your furry family member. A quality dog food can make the difference when it comes to the health of your dog’s nails and body as a whole.
Dogs should eat a quality dog food specified for their age, weight, and activity level. This means that small dogs should eat small breed dog food, medium dogs should eat medium breed dog food, and large breed dogs should eat large breed dog food.
Puppies should eat puppy food while adults and senior dogs should eat dog food specified for adults and seniors.
This is because dogs of different ages and sizes develop differently. They have different nutritional needs to help ensure they are able to thrive.
If you’re looking for the best dog foods to help enhance your dog’s skin, coat, and nails, look for dog foods that are rich in Omega-6 and Omega-3 oils.
Make Sure You Keep Up With Routine Grooming
Routine trimming and grooming will help ensure that your dog’s nails are growing at a healthy rate. Not only will trimming and filing your dog’s nails down with a dog nail file help reduce splitting and cracking, but it will also help to keep your dog’s nails growing out healthy.
Get Your Dog On A Fish Oil Supplement
Some dogs need a little extra help with the health of their nails, and this can be especially true as our dogs begin to age. If you’re worried about the health of your dog’s nails, you can invest in a fish oil supplement that you can add to your dog’s daily diet.
Supplements come in many forms and varieties, including treat forms or oil forms you can squirt directly onto your dog’s food.
If Your Dog Has Nails That Are Brittle Or Break Often, It’s Time to Visit Your Vet
One of the main reasons your dog’s nails may be brittle or may crack or break often is due to a nutritional deficiency.
If you have changed your dog’s diet and are taking other steps to help increase his nail health but notice no change, your dog may be struggling to digest nutrients in their food properly.
Speak with your veterinarian about your concerns and learn about other options and alternatives to help ensure your dog’s nails are able to heal and become healthy.
So, what do you think about using a dog nail file? Would you prefer to use a file or grinder on your particular dog?
Tell us what you would do in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.