Should I Trim My Dogs Nails
12 March, 2012

My friend, Cindy, has a dog named Molly whose nails are longer than she likes them to be, but just when she is ready to cut them, they fall off naturally.  She wanted to know if it is important to cut Molly’s nails, and if so, how often.

Similar to cats, nail trims are an important part of a dog’s basic grooming needs. For many dog owners, the idea of trimming their dogs’ nails is followed by a feeling of trepidation. Many dogs also dislike nail trims. It doesn’t have to be this way. Any dog owner can learn how to properly trim dog nails, and most dogs can be trained to tolerate it.

Why Should I Trim My Dog’s Nails?

Dog nails are constantly growing. Some dogs wear down their nails naturally from walking on the pavement. However, for those dogs that live indoors and don’t spend enough time on these surfaces, it is important to keep the nails short. This is especially the case with small dogs. If left to grow, some dog’s nails will curl under and actually start growing into the foot pads. This leads to painful sores and infections.

Even if they do not curl under, long nails can make it difficult for dogs to walk, especially on slick surfaces.  And long nails can easily get caught on something and become partially torn off or split. This is very painful for your dog, and treating a torn nail may require sedation at your vet’s office.

I like my nails short!

How Often Do I Need to Trim My Dog’s Nails?

The answer here depends on your dog. The rate of nail growth versus the amount of natural wear can vary from dog to dog. To determine when it’s time for a nail trim, a good rule of thumb is to trim your dog’s nails if they touch the floor when he is standing. In general, most dogs will need a nail trim every month or two. The front nails tend to grow faster that the rear nails, so you may only need to trim the rear nails every other time you do the front (or just trim a smaller amount off the rear nails each time).

How Soon Should I Begin Trimming My Dog’s Nails?

You should begin handling your dog’s paws from the moment you bring him home. He should get used to the sensation and associate it with a positive experience (treats, toys, attention). Hold your dog’s paws and play with his toes several times a day. Keep your demeanor upbeat. Praise him and reward him with treats when he tolerates the handling. Once you get comfortable with nail trims, begin trimming a tiny amount of the nail every week or two. Take care not to cut too short, or your dog will have a negative experience. Frequent, positive nail trims will teach your dog or puppy that there is nothing to fear. This will make nail trims much easier down the road.

I hope these tips help you with the trimming of your dog’s nails.

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