We all dread this phone call.
You’ve just groomed one of your favorite client’s dogs. The nails were super long so you trimmed them. You accidentally got one nail too short. It bled.
You didn’t panic. You had the tools and know-how to fix the bleeding toenail. You successfully stopped the bleeding and finished the groom. The dog left your salon looking fabulous and with nicely trimmed nails. You might have even painted them – pink.
Half an hour later, the client calls in a panic. Their freshly groomed pooch is bleeding from a toe. It’s getting all over everything – and they have no idea what to do!! Their back hall looks like a war zone. There is blood everywhere!! And to make matters even worse – the carpet is light cream-colored.
The client wants to know two things:
- How do they stop the bleeding?!?!
- What are you going to do about their new cream-colored carpet??
What do you do? You have a very upset client on your hands, a dog with a bleeding toenail, and probably a huge carpet cleaning bill. You groan. You shake your head in disbelief. You kick yourself for not checking that nail one more time before the pet left.
Sound familiar? Yep. If you’ve been grooming dogs professionally for any amount of time, you know first-hand what I’m talking about.
Personally, I’m not a nail Nazi. I will get nails as short as I can without bleeding them. However, I have groomers that are a bit more diligent about getting nails trimmed back so they don’t tap the floor. They routinely have to use a styptic powder to get nails to stop bleeding.
Whether I’m dealing with a groomer who believes in getting nails short or someone who is a bit softer on the nail front like me, I still have rules.
Here are my 10 Nail Trimming Guidelines:
- Trim nails as closely as possible without creating a bloodbath.
- If you do trim a nail too close and it bleeds, use it is as a reference guide so you don’t repeat trimming another nail too short.
- If you do bleed a nail, use styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Apply a generous pinch of powder to the nail tip. Hold FIRM pressure on the end of the nail for a MINIMUM of 30 seconds (count OUT LOUD!). If the nail is REALLY a bleeder, hold the powder to a count of 60.
- If there is blood on the fur, clean up the area with hydrogen peroxide.
- Check the nail again before the pet leaves.
- ALWAYS inform the client if any nail was trimmed too short. Let them know what toe it was and have them keep an eye on the foot.
- Instruct the client not to let the dog run across abrasive surfaces like concrete or asphalt for the next few hours.
- Always send the client home with a nail mending kit that includes a small amount of styptic powder and instructions on how to use it.
- If they have ANY problems, inform them to call or text the shop immediately.
- If the nail breaks open again in the car or at their home and the client needs professional help to clean up the blood, pay the bill – no questions asked.
These are the policies I put forth in my shops. If you run a professional salon, nails are occasionally going to be trimmed too closely. By following my 10 step action plan when the inevitable does happen, we are proactive in our customer service approach. We the head off all problems prior to the pet even leaving the shop with a nail that is trimmed too short. Hopefully you will, too.
Here’s a video about nail art you won’t want to miss!
Click here to view the embedded video.
Author of “Notes From the Grooming Table”