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, nail grinders! Today we’ll be detailing the best dog nail grinders, as well as reviewing how to dremel dog nails safely.
Best Dog Nail Grinder Quick Picks
- TOP PICK: Dremel Nail Grinder | Well-known Dremel brand product with several speed settings| Available from Amazon
- RUNNER UP: Petural Nail Grinder | 2-speed grinder with built-in safety ports | Available from Amazon (See our hands on review below!)
- BEST BUDGET CHOICE: UrPower Pet Nail Grinder | Single-speed, budget-friendly grinder for small pets | Available from Amazon
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.
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 canine nail grinder will grind away at the nail with a high-speed, rounded grinder that uses a material similar to sandpaper.
Pros and Cons of Using a Dog Nail Grinder
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of using a nail grinder as opposed to a nail cutter. We’ll cover some of the big ones here!
Advantages of Nail Grinders:
- 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.
- Helpful For 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.
- You’ll Get 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!
Disadvantages of Nail Grinders:
- 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 a 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 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.
How to Grind Your Dog’s Nails: Step By Step Process
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 a reward (like some stinky, yummy treats). Place rewards near the grinder (when it’s off) to get the dog sniffing and close to the grinder.
Next, hold the grinder in your hand and quickly turn it on and off, followed by rewards. You’re getting your dog used to the sound of the grinder, which can be a bit scary for them at first.
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!
Dog Nail Grinding Tips & Tricks
- 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 others 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.
. Petural Nail Grinder
About: The Petural Nail Grinder is a cordless, two-speed nail-grinding tool that features a diamond bit and works for up to 6 hours between charges.
This quiet nail grinder features a diamond bit and works at two different operating speeds.
- Two grinding speeds
- Comes with 900mAh Ni-CD battery and a USB charging cable
- Features two different nail ports to protect your dog’s paws, or you can remove the protective cap completely for use with large dogs
- Low-noise (< 50 dB), low-vibration, 9,000 RPM brass motor won’t startle your pet
- Comes with a carrying case
The Petural Nail Grinder has most of the features owners want in a grinder. The Petural’s diamond bit and 9,000 RPM motor make grinding quick and easy, and the included ports will help protect your pup’s paws during use. Also, because it is so quiet, it is a great choice for owners with nervous dogs.
A few owners complained that the motor didn’t seem powerful enough to grind their dog’s nails, but this doesn’t seem to be an issue for most people who tried this grinder.
K9 of Mine Staff Review
We performed a hands-on test of this grinder and found that it worked quite well.
The motor and diamond bit made easy work of an adult Rottweiler’s nails, and yet the tool was surprisingly quiet during use – it’s easily one of quietest grinders around.
We can’t verify that the battery lasts for 6 hours as the manufacturer claims, but it certainly holds a charge long enough to grind the nails of multiple dogs at a time.
The ports were too small for us to test, but they appear like they’d work very well for small or medium-sized dogs. The grinder was very easy to hold in the hand, the switch was easy to operate during use (such as when you need to change speeds), and the included carrying case makes it easy to keep everything together.
All in all, we loved the grinder and couldn’t find many faults with it. It doesn’t come with an LED light, like some others, so you’ll want to be sure to use it in a well-lit area. It’s also a bit more expensive than some other models, but we think it provided great value.