Does your dog go ballistic when you whip out those nail clippers?
You can’t really blame your pup – a few bad experiences getting your nail cut to the quick (your dog’s nail cuticle) and bleeding would probably make you squirmy too!
The good news is that there is an alternative to dog nail clippers – specifically, dog nail grinders! Today we’ll be detailing the best dog nail grinders, as well as reviewing how to dremel dog nails safely.
What is a Dog Nail Grinder?
Dog nail grinders are grooming tools that serve as an alternative nail-cutting solution for dogs that aren’t big fans of clippers. Dog nail grinders are also known as “dremels,” referring to the name brand of Dremel, a popular and well-known grinding tool.
Rather than cutting the nail, a dog nail grinder will grind away at the nail with a high-speed, rounded grinder that uses a material similar to sand paper.
Pros and Cons of Using a Dog Nail Grinder
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of using a nail grinders vs a nail cutter. We’ll cover some of the big ones here!
- Good For Unsteady Hands. If you feel your hands are not steady enough to clip your dog’s nails, you may find a nail grinder easier to use. You’ll still need to hold your dog still, but you likely won’t need the same level of precision to aim the grinder as you would require with clippers.
- Fearful Dogs. If your dog has had a few bad experiences with nail clippers, he may quite terrified of round 2 with the clippers (unfortunately it’s fairly easy to cut your dog’s quick and cause him to bleed – especially if he has dark nails). Grinders are easier to use and let owners easily avoid cutting into the quick.
- Smooth Edges. A grinder allows you to smooth the edges of your dog’s nails, which looks nicer and can also prevent them from snagging their nail on carpeting or other materials. Having smoother nails is also handy if your dog’s a jumper (ouch, my legs), or a scratcher.
- Reduces Cracking & Pinching. Clippers pinch down on your dog’s cuticle while cutting, which can end up hurting your dog even if you do not hit the cuticle. The pressure from clippers can, in some cases (although not too common), can even cause your dog’s nails to crack!
- Your Dog May Still Be Afraid. Unfortunately, your dog may get fearful the minute you grab his paws, so the grinder may not do much to alleviate immediate anxiety. The sound of the grinder may also make your dog nervous, so even with grinders it’s hard to say how well your dog will take to the nail grinding process. Be sure to work up to the grinding by providing plenty of treats and praise as you show your dog the grinder and handle his paws.
- You Can Still Hit the Quick. Keep careful watch on where your dog’s quick is as you grind (you should be able to start to see a small dot in the middle, even for dogs with dark nails). Even with grinders, you can still hit your dog’s quick (although it’s much easier to do accidentally with nail clippers).
- Humming Noise. The humming noise of the nail grinder can startle and frighten dogs, although the noise level varies between devices and speeds.
- Odor & Dust. An undesirable odor can arise from grinding a dog’s nails. This can usually be remedied by grinding your dog’s nails outside. You may want to wear eye gear or a mouth cover.
Dog Nail Grinding Tips: How to Grind Your Dog’s Nails
Before you get grinding, get the low down on how to grind your dog’s nails efficiently and effectively.
- Get Your Dog Accustomed To The Grinder. Introduce your dog to the grinder in small increments (and with plenty of treats and praise at every step). First, show your dog the grinder and give reward. Place rewards near the grinder (when it’s off) to get the dog sniffing and close to the grinder. Next, turn the grinder on and off quickly and reward. Next, turn grinder on for a longer period and reward. Finally, turn the grinder on and tap your dog’s nail (just for a moment) and praise.
This whole process won’t be done in one day – in fact, it may take a few weeks to get your dog acclimated. Go slowly and take your time. The payoff will be worth it when you can grind down your dog’s nails without stress!
- Only Grind A Small Amount At A Time. Even with a nail grinder, you’ll only want to grind a small part of your dog’s nail in one sitting. Support the dog’s toe, but don’t squeeze too hard. Grind across the bottom and then carefully in from the tip of the nail, smoothing rough edges as you go. If you do this weekly, the quick will recede and you’ll be able to maintain short nails on your dog with ease.
- Hold Close to The Top. Hold the grinder higher up, towards the top, for better control.
- Keep Your Dog Comfy. Make sure your dog is in a comfortable position as you grind the nails. Also consider how you’ll hold your dog’s foot. It’s recommended to hold your dog’s paw in a way that allows you to easily separate the toes from one another and push the nail you are grinding further out. Some dogs prefer to sit with their paws out, while other prefer to have their paw bend backwards. See what works for you and your dog!
- Grinders Get Hot! Remember, grinders get hot, so only hold the grinder against the nail for a second or two at a time. Press and release in small increments until your dog’s nail is shortened.
- Watch Out For Hair & Fur. If your dog has long hair, make sure to hold it back and keep it away from the grinding tool so it doesn’t get caught! Vet Street offers a great tip – using an old pair of pantyhose, put it over your dog’s paw and push the nail through. This makes the nail available to trim, while holding back any paw fur!
Need a visual demonstration? Check out this video on how to grind your dog’s nails.
Best Dog Nail Grinder Reviews: Safe, Easy, & Stress-Free
These highly rated dog nail grinders will help you trim your dog’s nails without issue. Dog nail grinders come in a few different styles and designs, which are detailed here.
Consider whether or not you’d like features such as multiple grinding speeds (handy for dogs with thick nails), and LED lighting (can help for those with poor eye sight). Also think about whether you’d prefer a grinder with a rechargeable battery or one that runs on classic AAs.
While all these grinders come recommended, make sure to consider which features matter the most to you and your dog.
1. Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Tool
About: The Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Tool is a popular nail grinding device made from the well-known Dremel brand, with multiple speeds and a rechargeable battery.
- 2 Speeds. Uses two rotation speed settings (6,500 and 13,000 RPM), allowing you to safely grind your dog’s nails in stages.
- Cordless & Rechargeable. No cords means this tool is easily portable and there’s no risk of your dog getting tangled in cords. Device is powered by removable and rechargeable battery pack.
- Warranty. Comes with 2 year warranty, which is always a nice bonus!
- Compatibility. This Dremel tool is compatible with a large array of Dremel sanding drums and bands.
Note: It’s worth noting that some owners will want a higher speed grinder. Higher-powered Dremel tools may be suitable for expert groomers, but regular pet owners should beware, since grinding faster can increase the likelihood of hitting your dog’s quick.
We suggest sticking to the lower speed nail grinders listed here to be safe. However, if you’re all about speed and feel confident with your grinding skills, a more powerful Dremel, such as the Dremel 7700, may be an option (plus you can use it for other crafting or grinding needs).
2. UrPower Pet Nail Grinder
About: The UrPower Pet Nail Grinder is a slim, ergonomically-friendly nail grinder that is notably quieter than most other grinders.
- Cap Guard. Comes with guard cap that prevents slipping or sliding.
- Extremely Quiet. Extra quiet and low vibrations, making it an especially good choice for skittish dogs.
- Multiple Grinding Areas. This device features two grinding holes – one designed for smaller pets like hamsters or rabbits, and the other slot for larger pets. However, this device only has one speed setting.
- Warranty. Comes with a 180 day warranty, for peace of mind.
- AA Batteries. Uses two AA batteries for power.
About: The FURminator is a dog nail grinder with multiple speeds and an LED light for clearer visuals.
- 2 Speeds. Features a 2 speed design, allowing the owner to adjust speed based on grinding need.
- LED Light. LED light provides illumination, offering a clearer look at your dog’s nail while you grind.
- AA Batteries. Uses 4 AA batteries for power.
- Extra Grinding Bands. Comes with 2 replaceable grinding bands + bonus pack of 6 more spare grinding bands.
- Nail Guard. Grinder nail guard helps prevent dog’s fur from getting caught in grinder.
Have you used a dog nail grinder? What tool do you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments!