How often to cut dog nails is dependent on how frequently your dog’s nails grow. This, in turn, is determined by the breed, which limbs the nails are found, your dog’s activity level, his age, environment, and a few other factors.
It might seem like keeping long nails in dogs isn’t such a big deal. Okay, barring the annoying sound of nail kissing hardwood, that was is annoying. But beyond that, it’s no big deal, right? Actually, wrong. Allowing your dog’s nails to grow as long as it gets could cause mild to serious problems.
Now, the reason some dog parents shy away from clipping their dog’s nails isn’t just because of ignorance, sometimes, it’s also because they don’t know how to. Other times, it’s also because they and their dog had a not-too-pleasant experience last time they tried it.
Our article today will attempt to answer your questions about cutting your dog’s nails as well as give some guidelines that can help make this experience much more pleasant for you and your furry baby.
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How Often Should You Cut Your Dog’s Nails?
As we said, there are different factors that affect the answer to this question. However, generally, you might have to trim your dog’s nails every 1 to 2 months. Also, if you’re beginning to hear the click as your dog walks across the floor, then that’s also a sign to clip your dog’s nails.
Another thing you might need to know about clipping dog’s nails is that dogs’ nails grow differently on different limbs. In the front limbs, they grow faster than in the rear ones. Therefore, you’d have to cut the front nails more frequently than the back nails.
Here are other factors you might want to consider when thinking of how often to cut dog nails.
If your dog mostly walks on pavement, you might not have to cut his nails as frequently since the concrete would naturally wear the nails down. However, if he’s constantly outdoors or walking on the carpet, you might need to cut his nails more frequently.
It’s said that puppies need their nails cut more frequently than their parents. This is because their nails grow much faster than those of an adult. If you’ve ever been scratched by a puppy, you’d know that those nails scratch hard.
Away from that though, cutting your dog’s nails from puppyhood would make it easier to cut his nails when he gets older. This is because, at that point, he’d be more tolerating of having his nails cut short than if you didn’t begin from puppyhood.
In some breeds, nail growth is much faster than in others. Hence, naturally, they require more frequent nail trims than other breeds. If you have a small breed that loves to stay indoors more, like a Chihuahua, for example, you’d have to more frequently trim his nails than if your dog is always outdoors, especially on pavement.
4. Length Of The Nail
Now, if you’ve been negligent with your dog’s nail care and the nails have gotten quite long, you can’t just chop the excess at once. In such cases, you’re advised by experts to cut the nails every 2 to 3 weeks in order to wear down the quicks. If you cut too close to the quick, you encourage the quick to shrink back. So, you’d have to cut that extra-long nail one bit at a time.
Your dog’s diet impacts how often his nails grow, particularly the balance of certain vitamins and minerals in the diet. If your diet is improving the growth of your dog’s nails, then you’re going to be cutting more often.
6. Certain Medical Conditions
If your dog comes down with an infection of the nail bed, or he develops a tumor or autoimmune disorder, it could affect the growth of his nails. This will, therefore, affect how frequently you have to cut his nails.
How Often To Cut Dog’s Nails – A Rule Of Thumb
Now, here’s a rule to live by when it comes to how often to cut dogs’ nails. You should cut your dog’s nails as often as it takes to prevent contact with the floor when your dog stands. Like we have seen in the last section, this frequency would vary from dog to dog.
Why Cutting Your Dog’s Nails Is Important
There are a number of reasons you need to cut your dog’s nails short.
Firstly, shorter nails reduce your dog’s risks of getting injured or suffering an infection. Naturally, long nails would catch easily, and more easily break and tear than shorter ones. This could eventually lead to a vet visit that would cost you a pretty penny like in the case of a torn dewclaw.
In the case of a dewclaw, your dog would have to be put under anesthesia in order to be able to remove and cauterize the torn nail safely. Trust us, it is not fun either for dog or parent.
Also, when your dog’s nails are overgrown, it could change the way your dog carries himself and moves. With time, because walking on his nails requires more force, it would cause a shift in the bones and pressure on the joints. In the end, your dog might have to suffer a considerable level of joint pain and in, extreme cases, even arthritis.
Thankfully, cutting your dog’s nails isn’t exactly rocket science. We can even show you how! But before then, let’s discuss some of the problems dog parents encounter whenever they have to cut their dog’s nails.
Common Problems With Cutting Dog’s Nails
1. Dog Anxiety
Perhaps the number one problem dog parents experience when trying to clip their canine’s nails is dog anxiety. Many dogs don’t like their feet touched and are downright terrified of having their nails cut short because of a bad experience they had in the past.
Bleeding is messy and anyone would want to avoid that. With cutting dog’s nails, bleeding is a common occurrence. This is because, in dog’s nails, there is a blood vessel that runs through that’s called the quick. So, if you cut that accidentally, then the nail would bleed.
Of course, it hurts your dog and it could cause the person doing the grooming to panic as well.
But chill, it’s not as bad as it seems. Yes, if you cut the quick, your dog will hurt, nonetheless, it never lasts long and it definitely won’t affect your dog’s walking afterward.
Now, the quick is another reason you must be extra careful cutting if your dog has extra-long nails. The longer the nail, the longer the quick. So, you’d have to cut little by little every other week so that the quick shrinks back on its own.
3. Dark Colored Nails
On lighter-colored nails, the quick is much easier to see and, therefore, much easier to avoid which, in turn, prevents bleeding. However, if the nails are darker, it can become much more difficult. Since it’s better safe than sorry, it’s best to keep the trimming to 2-3 millimeters at a time.
Here’s a demonstration on how to cut dark nails on dogs.
4. Squirmy Dogs
Some dogs just hate having their nails cut and become so squirmy. If this is the case with your dog, it might be best to leave him to the pros. You really don’t want to cut the nails of a squirmy dog if you don’t know what to do.
Ways To Have A Good Nail Cutting Experience With Your Dog
1. Visit A Groomer Or A Vet
You can ask your vet for tips on cutting your dog’s nails if you don’t know how to. They are pros and can give you a few tips that might work best for your type of pooch.
If things still escalate even with the advice from your vet, then it might be time to consider a groomer. These guys know all the tricks in the book including all the ways to calm your dog while cutting their nails. So, you can trust them to do a great job.
2. Begin Early
If you start cutting your dog’s nails from puppyhood, he’d get used to it by the time he’s grown and won’t give you so many issues no matter how often you cut your dog’s dog nails.
Now, at this stage of life, it’s super important not to create a bad experience else you could ruin future encounters even before you get the chance. So, cut as little as possible at a time once your puppy’s nails begin to grow. You must avoid the quick at all cost.
Do this brief trimming every week or every other week at first so they get used to the experience.
Don’t forget to reward your dog with treats and praise after each session. Rubbing his feet is also a great idea too.
3. Get Help
For some dogs, it might be helpful if there’s someone else distracting him or soothing him while you cut his nails. For squirmy dogs, you might even have to get someone to hold him still while you cut his nails. So, consider getting some help.
It’s best to be on the floor for this exercise. If you sit and have your dog point his paws at you, it becomes more difficult and chances you’re successful with the nail cutting are low. Instead, sit with him. It’s more reassuring for him.
Also, before your first cutting session, you might want to just hold your dog’s paws and pet them without any nail cutting. This relaxes him and makes him mentally prepared for when you decide to cut his nails.
5. Get The Right Materials
Do not use your human nail clipper for your dog. They are the entirely wrong shape, so chances that you’d hurt your dog are higher with such clippers. Instead, get your dog his own guillotine clippers. They are the right shape and size for a dog’s nails.
Besides getting the right clippers, it’s also important to make sure that they are sharp. If they aren’t, you’d have to squeeze hard just to make a cut. This requires too much effort and will also cause pain. Hence, endeavor to sharpen your clippers or even replace them regularly.
If your dog has had a bad experience with clippers and isn’t taking well to them, there are clipper alternatives you can try like nail grinders.
Don’t forget treats as well. You know what they say, all is well that ends with treats.
Also, remember that it’s better to leave the job unfinished than to end it on a bad note. So, if he’s getting too frustrated, call it a day, give him a treat, and try again another time.
(Click here to read our article on dog grooming kits).
Supplies For Dog Nail Cutting
1. Stainless Steel Dog Nail TrimmerBuy on Amazon
Like we said, don’t use human nail clippers, get one that’s specifically made for dogs. A clean, sharp one.
Another great idea is to get a trimmer that comes with a safety guard. This will keep you from accidentally clipping off too much nail at a time.
2. Dog Nail Cutting Grinder
Buy on Amazon
If you’re scared of using a clipper or your dog doesn’t seem to be comfortable with trimmers, a nail cutting grinder might work. Grinders grind rather than cut your dog’s nails kinda like a sandpaper but a high-powered one.
Now, these grinders don’t hurt, but some dogs might freak out when you use it just beause it’s alien to them. So, prepare for that and don’t get too panicked when that happens. Just remain calm and reassure your dog.
3. Styptic PowderBuy on Amazon
This is for those times when you mistakenly cut to the quick and there’s some bleeding. You want to stop this immediately by dipping the offending nail into styptic powder. So, always have it on hand.
Note that corn starch or baking powder also work if you don’t have styptic powder. Flour does the job too.
Expect the bleeding to stop in about five minutes and then you can examine if the injury needs a bandage or doggy sock. Sometimes, you have to do that to keep your dog from licking it or to prevent infection.
Now, dipping in styptic powder or any of its homemade alternatives can sting, so your dog might give a little ouch. But not to worry, everything resolves in a short time.
Finally, if your dog is still bleeding after this intervention, please consult your vet.
How To Cut Dog’s Nails At Home
Cutting your dog’s nails requires some level of expertise which means you need knowledge. Here is how you can get this done easily at home. There really isn’t much to it other than correct positioning, the right materials, and treating or praising.
- Speak to your dog in a soft, calm voice, placing your left arm around his midsection. Then hold him firmly to your chest.
- Hold your dog’s paw using your left hand, placing your thumb on top of the toe with the nail you’re about to trim. Support this toe with two of your fingers under the toe.
- Insert the nail in the clipper at a 45-degree angle and trim it.
- If you cut to the quick and the nail bleeds, use any of the materials we mentioned above to stop the bleeding.
- After trimming, file the nail using a file to smoothen rough, jagged edges so that the nails have a smooth surface.
- Repeat this process on each nail, not forgetting the dewclaws.
If you’re still not confident and you feel need a demonstration. Check out this video below.