How to Trim Your Puppy’s (or Dog’s) Nails
13 May, 2014

Most of our dogs don’t exactly love to get their nails clipped and if they are very active, the nails usually fall off on their own.  However, if you have a dog that spends a lot of time indoors, it’s important to keep their nails’ trimmed.  And, what better way to get them used to trimming than starting the process when they are puppies.

What happens if you don’t trim your dog’s nails?

If your dog’s nails are overgrown, they can become caught in bedding and carpets. They may curl as they grow, and embed into the tender flesh of the paw pad. Claws can split or tear and will then need to be surgically surgical repair that is painful for your dogs and expensive. Further, overgrown nails cause the foot to spread and change your puppy’s gait. The claws on the inside of the lower leg need particular attention since they never contact the ground.

When should you trim your puppy’s nails?

Nails at their longest should just clear the ground when the puppy stands in place. If you hear your puppy clicking on your kitchen floor, it’s time to trim those nails. Your groomer or veterinarian can trim your dog’s nails at routine visits, but it’s easy enough to do yourself.

Type of nail care equipment

Commercial nail trimmers are scissor-action or guillotine style.  When your puppy is really young, you should start with human nail clippers, but eventually will need clippers designed to cut the dog’s toenails at the correct angle without splitting or crushing the nail.

Check out this great video from Dr. Foster’s Smith on trimming your dog’s nails.

Choose a style that you feel comfortable using. Dog nails may also need to be filed after trimming. Use an emery board or a nail file available from a pet supply store to smooth the edges, and keep them from getting caught in the carpet.

Paw Handling Tips

Many puppies are resistant to having their paws touched. Handle your pup’s feet routinely during play and petting, and reward him your puppy with toys and treats for letting you do so. Begin simply by touching each paw, one after the other. When the puppy allows this without pulling away, gently hold a paw for five seconds and releasing—again with the reward for tolerance.

Next, hold a paw and touch the nail clipper to a nail—but DON’T trip. Do this several times, and reward him for not struggling or pulling away. Stop before he gets fussy so you leave him with a good memory of the experience.

How to Clip Your Puppies Nails

Once your puppy is used to your holding his or her paw and touching the nail, trim just the tip of the nails. All the nails don’t have to be done in the same session. Rather than upset your puppy, try trimming a single nail every evening for two weeks. It gets the job done without scaring the baby and damaging your relationship.

If you can enlist a helper, it will make the trimming easier

It’s helpful to have two pairs of hands during nail trimming, one to steady the paw while you handle the clippers. A wiggling dog makes it more likely you’ll catch the hair in the trimmer (painful!) or “quick” the nails, cut into the living vessels that feed the nail bed, and cause them to bleed.

When the nails are white or clear, the pink quick is visible and makes it easy to avoid the danger zone. If your pup’s nails are dark or opaque, clip off only the hook-like tip that turns down. Tipping the nails will prompt the quick to draw back up, so you can trim a little each week until reaching the proper length.

If you do happen to cut through the nail, stop for the day.  Try using a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding. And, of course, give your puppy extra attention or treats to show that even if something uncomfortable happens, he’ll get extra love.

You can find more articles on pet care and advice on, our pet social network that is likeFacebook for pets.  


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