Is your dog scared of nail clippers? Or are you nervous about cutting nails too short? A nail grinder could be a good alternative. Here are 5 of the best dog nail grinders, along with how to choose one.
If you’re worried about clipping nails too short, nail grinders are a brilliant alternative.
Grinders don’t require as much precision as clippers, so you’re less likely to hit the sensitive quick. They also don’t resemble clippers, which is handy if your dog has had negative experiences in the past.
There are many pet grinders on the market though, so it’s not always easy to choose. In this article, we’re going to look at how this type of grooming tool works and review five of the best nail grinders for dogs.
Note: You may see these products referred to as Dremels, but this is actually a popular brand. Pet nail grinders or dog nail grinders are the correct terms.
Effective grinder that’s relatively quiet
My top pick for a dog nail grinder is the excellent Dremel 7300-PT. It’s a rechargeable model that’s quiet, easy to use, and effective at grinding even thick nails. Unlike standard Dremels, it’s designed specifically for dogs.
Using nail clippers can be intimidating. If you accidentally cut too far down the nail, you could hit the nerves and blood vessels, which are called the quick. Cue lots of blood, discomfort, and feelings of guilt!
Unlike clippers, dog nail grinders are electronic devices with a fast rotating, coarsely textured tip. This gradually files down the toenail rather than cutting it.
Providing you use a good quality grinder as instructed, they are perfectly safe to use on your dog. It’s important not to grind too far though, as you can still reach the quick if you’re not careful.
There are many advantages to using the best dog nail grinders – especially if you’re not a professional groomer. We’ve written a full “Clippers vs Grinders” guide, but the short version is:
Dog nail grinders aren’t always the best choice though. Some of the downsides include:
While toenail grinders can work for many dogs, they aren’t the best option for all canine companions. If you have a particularly sound-sensitive dog, for example, then carefully using nail clippers may be the better choice.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all best option for dog nail grinders. Your dog’s nail type, their temperament, your budget and various other factors can influence your choice.
Below are five of the best toenail grinders for dogs that we think are worthy of your consideration.
The Dremel 7300 is probably the most well-known dog nail grinder – and it’s also our top pick.
As mentioned earlier, the Dremel brand is so synonymous with grinding that a lot of people refer to these products by the brand name. While the company is best known for its power tools, their pet nail grinder is also highly effective.
The Dremel 7300-PT has two speeds. The slow option is useful when you’re learning the tool, while the extra power setting is great for thicker nails. The rechargeable battery-powered design also means you can use it wherever is most convenient and comfortable.
There are four replacement bands included with the 7300-PT, so you won’t need to worry about ordering additional bands for a while. When you need more, replacement bands are readily available and inexpensive. There are lots of compatible bands and drums, making the Dremel a versatile model.
It’s also one of the quieter grinders on the market. So, if you’re worried about your dog being scared of the noise, the 7300-PT could be a good choice.
A minor drawback is that the Dremel doesn’t come with a guard. For those that like the extra cleanliness and security this can provide, it may be worth buying a guard separately.
Despite the lack of a guard, we still think the 7300-PT is the best dog nail grinder on the market.
The Oster nail grinder is another a cordless grinder with two speeds.
It’s compatible with both fine and medium sanding bands. This combination allows you to smooth off a dog’s nail without filing too quickly.
An advantage of the Oster is that it has a removable cover. This prevents you from filing too low, while also capturing nail shavings and preventing hair getting trapped in the tool. The downside to a safety guard is that you don’t get as much maneuverability, and larger toenails will not fit.
Unfortunately, the Gentle Paws isn’t as powerful as the Dremel, so it may not be the best choice for thicker nails. The motor is also louder when on the high setting, meaning you may have to spend longer desensitising your dog to the sound.
Although it is slightly cheaper than the Dremel, it doesn’t have rechargeable batteries, so you will spend extra buying replacements.
The Hertzko is a cordless and rechargeable nail grinder. While it’s not our top pick, it’s a decent choice for dogs that might be scared of loud noises.
Unlike models like the Oster Gentle Paws, you can use a USB cable to recharge it, rather than needing to buy replacement batteries. It also has a removable guard with three size settings, which is useful for controlling the amount of nail filed, and is relatively lightweight.
The biggest advantage of this model is how quiet it is. If you have a particularly sound-sensitive dog, the Hertzko could be a good choice.
It also comes with a diamond bit grinder which will last longer than the usual sanding bands.
A drawback is that this model only comes with one speed setting and is noticeably less powerful than the Dremel. For regular maintenance and smoothing it should work fine, but on thick or overgrown nails it may prove to be frustrating – for both you and your dog.
The Conair Pro Corded is a reasonably priced and relatively powerful nail grinder for dogs.
Unlike all the others we have reviewed, this is a corded model. It provides decent power, so it’s suitable for any nail thickness or size, and you don’t have to worry about charging or replacing batteries.
The Conair is also reasonably quiet, although the Hertzko model emits even less noise.
It’s not as powerful as the Dremel though, so you may need to tackle thick nails in multiple sessions to prevent your dog from becoming stressed. I would also have liked multiple speed settings.
If you’re on a limited budget but want to try a nail grinder for your dog, then the Furminator model could be worth giving a shot.
Despite being non-rechargeable and battery operated, it still has two speed settings, and it offers good value for money. It also has an LED light to illuminate your dog’s nails – although I’m not sure how much real value this adds.
As you would expect from a budget model, there are some drawbacks. It’s not as powerful as the Dremel, for example, and can cut out if you exert too much pressure. The grinding bands also don’t stay on as securely as other models, and it’s one of the loudest of those we’ve reviewed.
The five dog grooming tools above are all excellent options. But if you want to learn more about choosing the right grinder for your pet, here are some of the main considerations.
The more powerful a grinder is, the quicker and easier nail trimming becomes. If you’re forced to grind your pet’s nails for too long, your dog could get bored or stressed. It can also result in the grinder becoming too hot, and you will need to take more breaks.
If you have a large dog with thick, fast-growing nails, then we would recommend selecting a model with a strong motor. These tend to have higher voltage batteries or are powered by an electric cord.
If you have a small dog, the motor power will not be such an important factor as their nails will grind down more easily.
Some people opt to use the original Dremel rotary tool, which comes with a variety of different attachments, including a nail grinding option. This is a much more powerful option than the pet nail grinding model. It can operate at speeds of 22,000 RPM instead of a top speed of 13,000 RPM.
While this can be useful for thicker nails, it’s a much heavier, noisier and more expensive model. If you already use a normal Dremel it may be worth trying. Otherwise, it’s best to stick with the dog-specific model.
Some models have two variable speed settings. Lower rotation speeds, which generate less noise and vibration, can be useful when getting your dog used to the grinder. Higher speeds are great for getting the job done quickly.
Slower settings can also be handy if you’re nervous about grinding the nail down too far.
If you have a multi-dog household or own a big dog, then opting for a model with rechargeable batteries is a sensible choice.
If you only have a small dog and won’t be using the grinder as often, then selecting a grinder where you will have to buy replacement batteries may not be such a deal-breaker.
Some models use a power cord rather than batteries. Corded grinders are often more powerful and never run out of charge, but are more limited in where they can be used.
A quiet motor could be the most important consideration if you have a nervous or sound-sensitive dog. There’s no point buying a powerful grinder if causes your dog to freak out!
Some dogs can be desensitized to even the noisiest of grinders. But the less noise it makes, the greater chance you have of success.
The grinding bands which come on each model will eventually need replacing. Make sure that it’s easy to order and fit new bands, otherwise the grinder could be useless once the provided replacements have worn out.
If you don’t want to keep replacing bands, you could buy a diamond grinding tip. These don’t wear down in the same way as traditional sanding bands.
As a general rule, if your dog’s nails touch a hard surface when he’s standing still, they need a trim.
On a similar note, if you hear a clickety-clack as your dog walks over a tiled or wooden floor surface, this could be an indicator that they need trimming. You should always regularly check them too, especially if you have a longer haired dog.
Keeping nails trimmed so they don’t touch the ground ensures your pet’s posture and mobility aren’t affected. Overgrown nails can force your dog to walk in an unnatural ‘plantigrade’ position, putting a strain on joints and tendons. This can be a particular problem for old, arthritic dogs.
There’s a key point to remember about a dog’s nails: the quick, containing blood vessels and nerves, lengthens as the nail grows.
This is why it’s important to grind small amounts each session – especially if the dog’s toenails are long. As the nail gets shorter, the blood supply starts to recede, so after a few days you can grind a bit more without hitting the quick. If you try to do too much in a single session, you’re more likely to cut the blood vessel.
If you have a new adult rescue dog whose grooming was previously neglected, for example, you may need to trim their nails more regularly to begin with. Take a tiny bit off each time, to help train the quick to recede. Doing this once a week is a sensible starting point.
Once the quick has receded enough and you have the nails at a length you’re comfortable with, filing them down every fortnight to a month should be enough.
If your dog still has their dew claws, positioned on the upper part of the paw, then you will likely have to trim these down more often as they will not be naturally filed when out walking.
When you first start the process of trimming your dog’s nails with the grinder, you should introduce the tool slowly. It may seem tedious, but doing this over several days or even weeks, will help to ensure your dog stays relaxed during the process.
Using a noisy grinder without building positive associations could lead to stress for you both, a loss of trust, and potentially even a bite.
Start with a few sessions where you just bring the grinder out without switching it on. Every time your dog looks at it, they get a tasty treat reward. Repeat this many times each session and just pop it away again.
The next step is to turn the grinder on, without it being close to them. Every time you turn it on, they get a treat. Build up the length of time the grinder is on. Once they are relaxed around the noise and anticipating a treat when they hear it, you can start moving closer to them. The goal should be that they are relaxed even when it is turned on right next to them.
At this stage, you can move onto holding the paw and putting the grinder close to it, while administering a reward.
Repeat this a number of times before moving onto allowing the grinder to very gently touch the paw. If you have a fidgety dog, it may be helpful to have someone else feeding them while you’re doing this to keep them distracted and rewarded.
Don’t try to trim all the nails at once. This is a sure-fire way to overwhelm your pup – even with the quietest and best dog nail grinder.
Start with just short sessions on a single nail and build things up over time. If your dog is getting stressed out, don’t just push through. Set them up for success and end on a positive note. Forcing them will only increase stress levels and may even drive them towards reacting aggressively.
If you need a more visual example, then we would recommend watching this video by renowned Vet and Behaviorist Dr Sophia Yin. While the video shows the process for dog nail clippers, it is the same principle used for any pet nail grooming tool.
Once your dog is comfortable around the grinder, you want to make sure that you use it in the safest way possible. This will minimize discomfort, which could set back any desensitization work you have done.
If your dog has long hair, make sure it is held back or use a trimmer to ensure it does not get tangled in the grinder.
Keep the sessions short. Not only will this reduce the chance of your dog becoming stressed, but it also means that grinder won’t get too hot. You don’t want to set your dog back by burning them.
Make sure you do not get carried away and grind the nails back too short. Although you’re less likely to hit a blood vessel than when using clippers, it’s still possible to grind down to the quick.
The most important thing is to make sure your dog continues to have positive experiences with the nail grinder. Here are a few more tips:
It’s also a good idea to walk your dog on hard surfaces at least a few times a week. Even a short walk on concrete or pavement can naturally wear down nails. Make sure you use dog boots or a paw balm to protect your pup’s feet in cold weather though – rock salt and grit can be damaging.
Tip: Does your dog rub muddy paw prints over your carpets after a walk? Check out my list of the best dog paw washers.
Dog nail grinders can make maintaining healthy nails a lot easier. Make sure you choose a model that’s quiet, powerful and isn’t going to break down after one use.
Our top pick is the Dremel 7300. This is a highly rated model with plenty of power, reliability and versatility. It works for dogs of all shapes and sizes, even if they have thick nails. While the 7300 isn’t the quietest model on the market, it’s not too loud and is used by dog owners across the world with great success.
I hope this article has helped you find the best dog nail grinder for your pet. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out using our comments form.