When it comes to grooming your dog, many owners feel confident in the brushing and bathing. But the grooming chore universally avoided among many dog owners? Clipping your dog’s nails.
Often caring for your dog’s nails gets pushed off because of owner anxiety, dog anxiety, or (most often) a mix of both. I’ve admittedly gone to trim my dog’s nails and accidentally cut too far down into the “quick” or nail bed. This is at the base of their nail and is filled with blood vessels and nerves. One cut too far and you will be dealing with profuse bleeding.
But my goal here isn’t to scare you! Let’s talk all about dog nail care.
How often to cut dog’s nails? When is the best time to clip your dog’s nails? How to trim dog nails when they’re scared? What are the best tools to trim dog nails? You’re going to be a dog manicure master.
Unlike knowing how often to brush your dog to prevent shedding, or even getting a human haircut to avoid split ends, there is a lot of variation in how often to cut your dog’s nails. This is because their nail length and growth will vary based on lifestyle.
In fact, dogs that have a lot of opportunities to run, play and walk on varied surfaces may never really need their nails clipped. The general wear their nails receive from being active in different environments will keep their nails short naturally. In these cases, you may literally never need to trim your dog nails (hooray!).
Dogs that receive more limited exercise due to age, health, or any other reason, might have nails that need very regular trimming. Senior dogs often need their nails clipped more often because they aren’t as mobile as their younger counterparts and are more prone to painful ingrown and splitting nails. They also may already be dealing with pain associated with dog arthritis in their feet and legs that is exacerbated by long nails.
Furthermore, your dog’s anatomy will impact how often they need a trim. For example, if your dog has an intact “dew claw”, that is a single claw higher up the leg, this one claw may need more regular trimming because it doesn’t come in contact with the ground.
For dogs that do need regular trimming, aim to cut them every 1-2 weeks so that your dog is kept comfortable. When it comes to dog nail clipping, it’s better to remove a small amount regularly, then wait for the nails to be so long you are lodging off a large amount and risking cutting into the quick.
Once you’ve determined your dog’s nails need clipping, here are the steps to a safe and effective trim. If this is your first time, you may benefit from having your vet, a groomer, or experienced dog owning-friend teach you how to properly trim your dog’s nails in person. Once you know how to do it, it won’t be a big deal, but it can be a bit overwhelming!
Cutting your dog’s nails a bit too short and hitting the quick will result in significant bleeding. You will feel awful, but remember your dog will certainly survive and has probably experienced worse!
If you do cut your dog’s nail too far down, you’ll want to apply pressure immediately to stop the bleeding. To plug up the opening, you can put the nail into corn starch, flour, or use a bar of soap.
For some owners and dogs, it is easier and safer to save nail trimming for the professionals. If you’ve had numerous unsuccessful attempts at trimming, or feel stressed and anxious about the task your dog will sense this too.
Some dogs have extreme anxiety surrounding nail trimming and will become aggressive and unsafe towards their owners as soon as they see the clippers. In these situations, it is best to schedule a vet appointment for nail trimming. In extreme cases your vet may sedate your dog for safe nail trimming.
Additionally, if you your dog’s nails appear to be injured, have grown excessively long, are dangling from a tear, or are causing your dog noticeable pain, a professional opinion and trim is suggested.
While rarely any owners favorite task, you now know how to care for your dog’s nails. Keeping their nails trimmed means they will be more comfortable and less prone to nail injury. It will also keep your hardwood floors and sweaters from getting scratched and snagged 😉
In short, you want to have the right tools on hand, trim conservatively, and don’t hesitate to seek out professional help when in doubt!
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