How Often Should You Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Dog Health Recent December 8, 2021
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How Often Should You Trim Your Dog’s Nails

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Trimming your dog’s nails should be part of your regular grooming routine. Keeping the nails trimmed is not only necessary to protect you and your dog from unnecessary scratches, but also to keep your pup healthy and comfortable. Long nails can easily break, catch or tear, causing pain and avoidable veterinary expenses.

Why Your Dog’s Nails Need to be Trimmed

Trimming your dog’s nails is important for several reasons. Besides the damage that your dogs nails can do to rugs, furniture, floors, and skin, long nails may cause pain or even injury’s to your pup. Long nails are also more likely to get caught on fabric and carpet, which can actually result in the nail being torn off.

If your dog’s nails are too long, each step that they take on hard surfaces may result in pain and over time, painful feet. When your dog’s nails make contact with hard surfaces, like cement or a tile floor, the hard surface pushes the nail up into the nail bed. This can put pressure on all the toe joints or force the toe to turn to the side. Also, nails that are too long can curl and pierce your dog’s paw pads, which is not only painful but can lead to infection.

In addition, untrimmed nails can make it difficult for your dog to find traction on slick floors like tile, linoleum and hardwood floors. When they are running around on these surfaces, they might slip and fall and pull or strain a muscle.

How Often Should I Trim My Dog’s Nails?

Dogs should have their nails trimmed and even filed on a regular basis, which might every 3 to 4 weeks. If your dog is mostly indoor, he may need more frequent trims.

Dogs nails wear down naturally during normal activity, but dogs that are kept indoors, need trims more often because they are not as active and usually walk on softer surfaces in comparison to outdoor dogs. When your dog’s nails are too long you might hear them tap as they walk across your hard floors which means they are too long and it’s time for a trim.

How often you need to trim your dog’s nails may depend on several factors as follows:

Breed – Some dog breeds have nails that grow quicker than other breeds, meaning they will require more frequent nail trimmings. Smaller dogs that do not require as much exercise as larger breeds and therefore spend longer periods of time indoors need to have their nails monitored and kept short.

Activity – Dogs that walk regularly on cement or pavement will naturally have their nails worn down, meaning they will not need their nails trimmed as often.

Age – Older dogs tend to move around and walk less often, which could mean they need more frequent trims over dogs who have their nails naturally worn during walks.

Environment – Depending on where you walk your dog outdoors will determine how often a trim is needed. If you are walking on dirt or grass, your dog’s nails will not be worn down the way they would be if your dog was walking on asphalt, pavement, or other rough surfaces.

Nail Length –  As mentioned above, if your dog’s nails have obviously gotten too long, you will want to cut the nails every 3 to 4 weeks to help wear down the quicks. Cutting close to the quick encourages the quick to shrink back down making future trims easier. Keep in mind that extra long nails have to be cut back a little bit at a time and should not be cut too short.

What Kind of Nail Clippers are Best?

There are two main types of dog nail clippers; guillotine style and scissor style. Guillotine style clippers have a hole that the nail is fed through. Once the nail is positioned in this hole, you squeeze the handles together and a blade rises up from the base to cut the nail. Scissors style nail clippers are designed similar to scissors. This type has two moving blades that come together when you squeeze the clippers handles together.

Both of these of nail clippers are very effective for dogs nails, but most people prefer a particular type. If you have never trimmed your dog’s nails before, you may want to test out both types to determine which one feels more comfortable for you and your dog.

It is important you buy quality clippers that are sharp and designed for the size of your dog. The cutting edge should have a concave design to avoid crushing the nail. if the clipper is not sharp enough, it could result in splitting the nail.

Nail grinders can be a great alternate choice, as they create a soft edge on the nail and are less intimidating for owners concerned about trimming their dog’s nails too short. However, many dogs do not like the vibration of the grinder on their nail or the sound they make.

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

When in doubt, one of the easiest and safest options is to take your dog to the vet or a groomer. They can also teach you the best methods and demonstrate how to cut your pups nails, making the process easier for both of you in the future.

If  you are ready to start trimming on your own, look for a vein down the middle of your dog’s nail. This is the quick and if cut, this vein will cause bleeding and pain to your dog.

If trimming white nails, the vein should be easily visible and you want to avoid the tip of the pink vein by cutting or grinding lower than this.

Black nails can be a bit trickier as this vein is not visible. For these nails, it is recommended you trim the hook or curved portion only. If your dog does not have this hook, turn the paw over and look from the underside. The portion that is some what hollow is usually safe to trim.

If you can only do 2 or 3 nails at a time before your dog loses patience, you can always go back another day. The trick is to keep the experience as positive as possible.

If your dog has pretty hairy paws, it may be easier to keep them trimmed back so that you can easily see when their nails are getting long.

Also, a nail grinder may be a safer but slower alternative to trimming.

Final Thoughts

Trimming your dog’s nails regularly can be difficult, if they have had a bad experience or do not like their paws touched. Some owners are nervous about trimming their dog’s nails because they are worried that they might cut into the quick. Regardless of these issues keeping your dogs nails trimmed is important for keeping their paws healthy and free of injury.

If your dog is completely uncooperative or scared about having their nails trimmed you may want to consider a groomer or call your veterinarian.

Amy Brown is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two cats and a dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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