Keep Your Dog’s Nails Trimmed (For Their Well-Being!)

Keep Your Dog's Nails Trimmed

Chances are, your dog hates to have his nails trimmed. But did you know that if you don’t keep your dog’s nails a reasonable length, you could actually affect the structure of his body?

For example:

  • Your dog may rock back on his paws to avoid standing on overgrown nails.
  • His toes can become deformed.
  • His dewclaws can grow around his legs and into his skin.
  • Neglected nails can interfere with his ability to walk naturally.

In general, overgrown nails can be quite painful.

If your dog has the opportunity to exercise on cement regularly, that rough surface may be enough to keep his nails trimmed, though you still need to examine them, and don’t forget the dewclaws which don’t touch the ground. If he spends his time indoors or in a grassy or dirt yard, chances are, he needs a pedicure.

Try a Groomer or Vet

If you’ve never trimmed a dog’s nails or if your dog goes psycho when you try, you’re probably better off taking him to a groomer or his regular vet to have it done. Either way, it will probably be inexpensive, especially if the dog is there for another reason like a grooming or a vaccination. Some groomers and vets offer specials on services provided on certain days. If your dog reacts badly to the process of nail trimming, it will be well worth the money to let a pro do it.

If You Do it Yourself

Experts advise that you prepare your dog, especially if he is a puppy, for nail trimming by handling his feet everyday. Pick up paws and massage a little, holding each toe for ten to fifteen seconds and applying gentle pressure to get him accustomed to it.

The best type of nail trimmer, according to one expert, is the guillotine type. It holds the nail in a little slot while you squeeze the trimmer and the tip is cut away. You can also purchase a dremel, which is like a small automatic sanding device that wears away the end of the nail gently. Groomers like these especially for tiny dogs. After your dog learns to cooperate with a nail trimming, reward him with a small treat.

What color are your dog’s nails?

White nails are easier to trim than dark nails, since you can actually see the vein inside the nail and know just how far you can safely trim. Of course that doesn’t mean that the dog will not hate the process.

Black nails can be a problem, since there is no way to see where the tip ends and the quick begins. If you are going to do the trimming yourself, proceed with caution and just take off the very tip at first.

What if the Nail Bleeds?

There’s a very good chance at least one of the nails will bleed a little. So be prepared. Before you begin, make sure you have some styptic powder available. Your pet supply store has it, or you can order it online. But in an emergency, you can coat the nail in flour or cornstarch. This aids the clotting process. Then try to keep the dog inactive for an hour or so.

If your dog’s nails are very long, don’t assume you should jump in and cut a lot of nail off. You’re almost sure to cause bleeding that way. Always go in gradually and take off just a little nail. Then next week, do some more, until the nails are in good shape.

How Often Should You Trim?

Some experts recommend every three weeks. Others say five or six weeks. The answer depends on the dog and the amount of exercise on hard surfaces it gets. Once they have been well trimmed, it’s easier to maintain them than to start with overgrown nails. If the animal just won’t cooperate with you trimming his nails, don’t neglect the process. Spend the few dollars necessary to let a pro do it.

While you’re here, be sure to check out our dog product reviews!