What Can I Give My Dog To Calm Him Down And Cut His Nails? (2023)

Christopher Kjolseth - June 24th 2021

What Can I Give My Dog To Calm Him Down And Cut His Nails? (1)

Regular trimming of your dog's nails is essential to keep them in good health, but it can be a stressful experience, especially for your pup!

Fortunately, there are some things you can give your dog to calm him down before you cut his nails. From prescription drugs to natural remedies, we explore all of the best options in this blog.

Table Of Contents

  • Try this first: Exercise and reward-based training
  • Natural Calming
  • Benadryl
  • Prescription sedatives
  • Summary

Try this first: Exercise and reward-based training

Before giving your dog any medications, take them for a long walk. Tiring them out with exercise will always be the healthiest option, and you might even find that it's all that's needed to get them calm enough to cut their nails.

It's natural for your dog to be apprehensive the first time you trim its nails. Take your time, and if you can successfully clip even one nail, reward them with a treat. Reward-based training will make the process positive for your dog. It might take a long time with many pauses at first. Eventually, they won't mind getting their nails trimmed at all.

If you've tried all of this and still feel like a little extra help is needed, you might consider giving the following to your dog to calm them down before you cut their nails.

Natural Calming

If you can give your dog something natural to calm them, that will generally be safer than over-the-counter or prescription medication.

The following is a list of calming ingredients which you can purchase in stores or online. If that sounds like too much trouble, we have already combined them in our vet-approved

CBD calming chews for dogs.

  • Chamomile – You might have had chamomile tea; the good news is it has the same calming effects for dogs as it does for humans.
  • Ashwagandha – An ancient herb often used as a stress relief aid.
  • Tryptophan – This is the reason you feel tired after eating turkey on thanksgiving.
  • Hemp Extract – CBD works with your dog's endocannabinoid system, which has been linked to stress relief, sleep, and much more. For an even more concentrated dose of CBD, you can try our CBD oil for anxious dogs, either on its own or in combination with the chews.

Benadryl

Benadryl is often given to dogs as a calming aid, but even though it's safe for humans, it can be dangerous and even fatal if incorrectly given to dogs. Both the dosage and type of Benadryl you give to your dog are critical. We cover both of these in more detail in our blog on Benadryl for dogs.

Prescription sedatives

If you've tried absolutely everything else and are still having no success with your pup's nail trimming, the following is a list of prescription medications you can get from your vet. We consider these somewhat of a last resort, as while they will very likely sedate your dog, they also come with a higher risk of negative side effects.

They should only ever be given to your dog under the guidance of a veterinarian, as an overdose could lead to serious health issues or even death.

(Video) Teach Your Dog To Be Comfortable With Nail Clipping

  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, and other doggie downers)
  • Acepromazine
  • Trazodone
  • Gabapentin
  • Injectable Sedatives

Summary

There are several things you can give your dog to calm them down before cutting their nails. We suggest you start with exercise and then explore the natural options. If those don't work out, you can always call an experienced groomer or take your pup to the vet.

If you aren't comfortable cutting your dogs' nails, then it's probably best for everybody involved to take them to a professional. Most groomers will charge a relatively small fee to trim your dog's nails, and in all but the most extreme situations, they will be able to take care of it.

However, if your dog is extremely aggressive, you may have to take them to the veterinarian to be sedated.

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Accuracy Review by:
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FAQs

How can I sedate my dog over-the-counter? ›

While melatonin has proven beneficial in the management of certain endocrine disorders, it is a helpful adjunct in canine stress disorders. Therefore, melatonin is offered as an over-the-counter recommendation for the dog with hospital associated aggression and anxiety (Table 1).

Is it safe to sedate a dog for nail trimming? ›

Ask for a sedated nail trim.

Unless there is a medical reason not to sedate your dog, your vet should be able to do a sedated trim. Being sedated should make the nail trim process less traumatic for your pup.

What to do if your dog won't let you cut their nails? ›

Take It Slow

In a separate session, train your dog to allow you to touch her paws. Begin slowly and keep your dog relaxed; initially, this may mean only a light touch on your dog's shoulder. Slowly progress while rewarding relaxation at each step.

How can I sedate my dog for grooming at home? ›

Acepromazine causes sedation. It's commonly given as an injection as part of anesthesia (one of a combination of drugs) for surgery. The drug may also be sent home as an oral medication and given to a dog 20-60 minutes before events like grooming, a vet visit, or car travel.

What natural sedative can I give my dog? ›

L-theanine and L-tryptophan supplements are also commonly recommended by veterinarians to help with mild to moderate anxiety, says Dr. Coates. Zylkene, a derivative of a milk protein, can aid in calming your pet naturally. It is often used effectively in senior dogs with new, age-related anxiety.

How much Benadryl can I give my dog to sedate him? ›

Benadryl Tablets

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the standard dose for Benadryl is 2-4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.9-1.8 milligrams (mg) of Benadryl per pound.

Can I give my dog Benadryl to clip his nails? ›

Benadryl. Benadryl is often given to dogs as a calming aid, but even though it's safe for humans, it can be dangerous and even fatal if incorrectly given to dogs.

How do you cut a dogs nails who hates it? ›

Clip just one toenail and give the dog a treat if he behaves well. You can try trimming another toenail, but stop for the day when the dog becomes uncomfortable. You should gradually be able to trim a couple toenails at once, eventually working up to trimming all the toenails in one session.

Will Benadryl make my dog sleepy? ›

One of the side effects of Benadryl is drowsiness, which helps to calm anxious dogs. The Merck Veterinary Manual states that diphenhydramine may relieve symptoms of mild-to-moderate anxiety in pets associated with travel. It also may help relieve motion sickness.

How long does Benadryl take to work in dogs? ›

It will usually take 30 minutes for Benadryl to take full effect, and you want your pup calm and anxious-free. In terms of what form of Benadryl, that's entirely up to your vet.

Is it OK to give Benadryl to a dog? ›

Benadryl is safe to give your dog for allergies, anxiety, motion sickness, and vaccine side effects. Though a typical Benadryl pill is 25 mg, you should only give your dog 0.9-1.8 mg per pound of weight. Make sure that the Benadryl you're giving your dog only contains diphenhydramine.

What do groomers give dogs to calm them? ›

Acepromazine is an over-the-counter tranquilizer and nervous system depressant administered for nervous dogs. The drug works as a dopamine antagonist. It is used to prevent anxiety during thunderstorms, fireworks, and vet or groomer visits.

How do groomers deal with difficult dogs? ›

Groomers might cover an aggressive dog's face with a towel while moving the dog. Aggressive dogs are restrained with a loop and most groomers have muzzles on hand for the toughest dogs. Neither of these devices will hurt your dog. Both ensure your dog stays on the table during the groom for her own safety.

Will Benadryl calm my dog for grooming? ›

Can I use Benadryl for grooming? Can you give a dog Benadryl for this? Yes, but some say the anxiety may not completely go away. If your dog freaks out when you take him to the groomer, Benadryl is one thing you can try.

What is the best sedative to give a dog? ›

Diazepam. Diazepam is a benzodiazepine tranquilizer used in veterinary for sedating or reducing the anxiety of the dog. Not only can it be used as a sedative, but you can also use it to treat behavioral problems like aggression. In veterinary medicine, it can also be used as an anticonvulsant to treat seizures.

What over-the-counter medicine can I give my dog for anxiety? ›

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is an over-the-counter product well-tolerated by dogs and can have a mild sedative effect. Be sure to check with your vet for dosage recommendations.

How many 25 mg tablets of Benadryl can I give my dog? ›

Benadryl Dose for Dogs

Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook recommends giving a standard dosage of 25 milligrams for a 25-pound dog two to three times per day. As a general rule of thumb, use 1 milligram per pound of your dog's body weight. For example, a 50-pound dog would be given two 25 milligram tablets.

Will 50 mg of Benadryl make my dog sleepy? ›

Benadryl side effects in dogs are similar to those in humans. Common side effects include dry mouth, sleepiness, and urine retention. Some dogs may experience rare side effects, such as diarrhea, vomiting, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and appetize changes.

Why do dogs freak out when you cut their nails? ›

Pain is the main reason that dogs hate nail trims. If your dog has ever been cut too close, even once, he will remember it. Nature provides pain as a protection and if something hurts, an animal must learn to avoid, and even fight it. This is a survival instinct.

What are the side effects of giving Benadryl to dogs? ›

The most common side effect is lethargy, dry mouth, and urinary retention. Vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite are also possible.

How does Benadryl make my dog feel? ›

Common side effects of Benadryl include constipation, sedation, urinary retention, diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and loss of appetite for some dogs. Always be sure to monitor your dog closely when giving medication for the first time.

Will 25 mg of Benadryl make my dog sleepy? ›

The side effects of Benadryl in dogs are similar to the side effects humans might experience with the drug. These include sleepiness, dry mouth, sluggishness, or urinary retention.

Can I give my dog Benadryl every day for anxiety? ›

Although Benadryl is not currently on the FDA's list of approved drugs for veterinary use, it is generally considered safe to give to dogs. As long as your dog does not suffer from any pre-existing serious medication conditions, it is safe to give your dog Benadryl.

What is better than Benadryl for dogs? ›

Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

Zyrtec has become a common antihistamine for treating dog allergies thanks to its convenient dosing schedule. Additionally, while dogs react to antihistamines differently, Zyrtec has had a higher response rate than others. The drug has minimal side effects, although some pets do become drowsy.

How do you calm an anxious dog? ›

Dog massages, snuggles and a good brushing can help distract a dog from its triggers and make it easier for them to feel safe and at ease. Mentally stimulating toys can provide a distraction for pets experiencing anxiety, hyperactivity and boredom.

Can you give a dog melatonin? ›

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), melatonin is a safe supplement10 to give to your dog. Melatonin has little risk for harmful side effects11. The most common side effect is lethargy upon waking the next morning.

Is there a pill to sedate a dog? ›

Acepromazine maleate (brand names and alternative names: acetylpromazine, ACE, ACP, PromAce®) is a sedative/tranquilizer used as a pre-anesthetic and for chemical restraint in dogs and cats.

Can you give a dog melatonin for grooming? ›

Melatonin is a commonly used supplement among humans, and while most human supplements aren't safe to share with dogs, melatonin is on the safe list. In fact, melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain by both humans and animals.

How do groomers make dogs stay still? ›

They'll infuse the space with calming pheromones in the air or essential oils through a diffuser. Perhaps they'll use certain shampoos with soothing ingredients, like lavender. If and when a vet writes a prescription of sedatives for a dog's grooming session, then the groomer can use those to keep a dog still.

How do groomers keep dogs still? ›

Groomers use non-slip surfaces. To help dogs stand still and steady, groomers invest in special non-slip padding for appropriate surfaces such as grooming tables or bathtubs. It helps prevent fatigue which makes for a calm dog.

How do you groom a hyper dog? ›

The Techniques for Hyper Dogs Method
  1. Teach obedience. Work on obedience commands such as 'stay', 'sit-stay' and 'down-stay' when not grooming so that your dog learns self control. ...
  2. Exercise before grooming. ...
  3. Dont punish. ...
  4. Many short sessions. ...
  5. Distract. ...
  6. Reinforce calm behavior.

How do you lightly sedate a dog? ›

Give your dog melatonin for a natural, over-the-counter option. This natural supplement that many humans take to help them sleep can be helpful for sedating dogs as well. If your dog weighs less than 5 kg (11 lb), give it 1 mg of melatonin. If your dog weighs 5–15 kg (11–33 lb), give it 1.5 mg.

What medicine can I give my dog to put him to sleep? ›

Melatonin is commonly used as a sleep aid, and is sometimes used to treat certain hair disorders, cognitive dysfunction and separation anxiety in dogs, as well as sleep cycle disorders in dogs and cats. Generally, it is very safe, with lethargy and stomach upset being a potential issue in cases of overdose.

Can you sedate a dog without anesthesia? ›

An example is Dexdomitor and Torbugesic, which are used as a sedative and analgesic in dogs. They are used for minor procedures that do not require full general anesthesia, such as orthopedic radiographs and minor wound/laceration repairs.

How long does Benadryl sedate a dog? ›

This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

What can you give dogs to calm them down? ›

Chamomile, pet-friendly CBD oils, and melatonin are all good options for helping lower your dog's heart rate. Check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any over-the-counter supplements to ensure you're giving your dog the correct dose.

Can I give my dog Benadryl to calm him down? ›

One of the side effects of Benadryl is drowsiness, which helps to calm anxious dogs. The Merck Veterinary Manual states that diphenhydramine may relieve symptoms of mild-to-moderate anxiety in pets associated with travel. It also may help relieve motion sickness.

How can I calm my dog's anxiety naturally? ›

Calming music and weighted blankets can also help. Long term, you can try desensitizing your dog to the stressor. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, practice the activities you normally do before you leave … but don't leave.

What do groomers use to calm dogs? ›

Acepromazine is an over-the-counter tranquilizer and nervous system depressant administered for nervous dogs. The drug works as a dopamine antagonist. It is used to prevent anxiety during thunderstorms, fireworks, and vet or groomer visits.

Will Benadryl sedate a dog? ›

You may have heard that Benadryl can be used as a sedative to calm your dog while traveling or during fireworks or thunderstorms. It's true that Benadryl may alleviate symptoms for some dogs, but the sedative effects are mild and not nearly as pronounced in dogs as they are in people.

How can I sedate my dog fast? ›

Ask about acepromazine for a fast-acting sedative.

This is a strong, fast-acting sedative that your dog's veterinarian may prescribe if you need to sedate your dog in a hurry since it works within 20-30 minutes of administration.

How do dogs act after taking Benadryl? ›

Common side effects include dry mouth, sleepiness, and urine retention. Some dogs may experience rare side effects, such as diarrhea, vomiting, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and appetize changes. If these symptoms become severe, you should call your vet.

Is human Benadryl safe for dogs? ›

Benadryl is safe to give your dog for allergies, anxiety, motion sickness, and vaccine side effects. Though a typical Benadryl pill is 25 mg, you should only give your dog 0.9-1.8 mg per pound of weight. Make sure that the Benadryl you're giving your dog only contains diphenhydramine.

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