Should You Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

July 5, 2017


By Laurie Darroch

Trimming a dog’s nails is an important part of your grooming routine. It may be a quick and easy procedure with one dog, and a difficult one with another dog. Regardless, you need to know how to properly trim your dog’s nails, how often to trim and what method to use.

Why Do You Need to Trim?

If you keep your dog’s nails short, the quick will stay shorter as well. The quick retreats when a dog’s nails are consistently short. Nails that are too long can catch on things and rip off, causing your dog pain or discomfort. Long nails are also painful for you when your dog inadvertently scrapes or cuts you while trying to get your attention with a paw, or while playing with you.

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed will also allow you to watch for foot and toe injuries, and signs of any infections you may not notice otherwise. Look for long, uneven, broken or pointy nails to help you decide if your dog needs his nails trimmed. If you haven’t trimmed your dog’s nails in awhile, you may notice him walking with a slightly altered gait to compensate for the long nails or even to help alleviate discomfort. If he’s licking his feet too much, they may be hurting and it is definitely time to trim the nails.

How Often Should You Trim?

How frequently toenail trimming needs to be done depends on the individual dog and his lifestyle. Each dog has a different nail growth rate, the same way we humans do. If you routinely groom your dog, it’s easy to look and see if this nails are getting too long. If you pay attention, you will quickly learn your dog’s specific nail trimming needs.

Every month or two is a general rule of thumb, but lifestyle may either negate the necessity to trim frequently if he wears his nails down naturally, or make the need to trim his nails less frequent. For instance if your dog plays, runs, or walks outdoors on hard surfaces such as cement, this may do some of the filing down. If your dog primarily plays on soft carpet, dirt and other less abrasive surfaces, you may find that he needs to have his nails trimmed more often.

When Do You Start Cutting?

If you have a puppy, you can help him get used to the feel of having his feet and toes touched starting at a very young age. Making nail trimming part of the normal grooming routine from the very beginning will make it easier on both you and your dog. Begin by simply sitting with your dog with your hand on his feet in a calm manner. Massage his feet to make the experience of getting his feet touched a pleasant association. This method may even help with older dogs that are already resistant to anyone getting near their feet.

Give your dog a reward for sitting calmly while you work on his nails or try to get him used to having his feet touched. The more pleasant and non-threatening you make the procedure, the more likely you will be able to get the job done. Keep some of his favorite CANIDAE Dog Treats nearby to reward him when he behaves.

What Method Should You Use To Trim?

If you are hesitant to try trimming your dog’s nails yourself, he will sense that. Some dogs, in spite of training and exposure to foot grooming, simply don’t like their toes and nails touched at all. In that case, do not give up and avoid trimming nails that need to be cut. Have a professional groomer or your veterinarian do it.

To do the trimming yourself, you can choose between sanding or cutting. There are many different styles of hand trimmers available for purchase. You may find that one type works better than another for your dog’s nails. Do your research ahead of time before you waste money and buy several different ones in an attempt to get the right one. Ask other dog owners, the local groomer or your vet which style they prefer and why, to help you decide.

The nail sanding option may work more easily, although some dogs get frightened by the sound of the grinder. They may balk at any attempt to trim their nails using one of those. On the other hand, some dogs actually seem less threatened by sanding versus a pair of clippers.

Whichever method you use, it may take more than a few sessions to get your dog used to having his nails trimmed. Be calm and patient when you work with your dog. If nail trimming is something you’re just not comfortable doing, get the help you need to keep your dog’s nails, toes, and feet healthy.

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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