How Often Should I Cut My Dog’s Nails?

Cutting your dog’s nails yourself can be nerve-wracking and even intimidating, however, it is a necessity that canine nails are trimmed regularly. So, how often should you cut your dog’s nails? For the most part, dog’s will need their nails trimmed every one to two months.

It’s also interesting to learn that dog’s rear nails grow slower than their front. Therefore, the back nails shouldn’t need to be trimmed as often. When you don’t cut your dog’s nails there can be negative side effects such as soreness, discomfort, and even joint or bone issues. Keep reading to learn about how often you should cut your pup’s nails, the do’s and don’ts of trimming canine nails and some problems you may encounter.

Frequency

Most dogs will need their nails cut every four to six weeks. Of course, cutting your pet’s nails isn’t an easy job, especially if they won’t stop squirming. A squirmy pup can cause your hand to slip and result in injury. There are several factors that contribute to how often you’ll need to cut your dog’s nails including:

  • Nail growth and length
  • Environment
  • Breed
  • Age
  • Activity level

Your pup’s nails may naturally wear down through frequently walking on surfaces such as pavement. This can reduce the frequency that you need to trim his nails. On the flip side, dogs who walk less such as elderly ones may need additional nail clippings. The same goes for the environment that your pup is walking on. If you mostly have puppy play dates in the park or let your furry friend run around in the backyard – they may not have that natural wear and tear of their nails that hard surfaces, such as a sidewalk, provide. The rate at which a dog’s nails grow can vary depending on breed, but again can also correlate to the environment. Smaller dogs don’t require as much exercise as larger breeds and therefore spend longer periods of time indoors. When this is the case, you’ll want to monitor the length of his nails regularly.

Method

When in doubt, one of the easiest and safest options is to bring your dog to the vet or groomer – they know the best tricks to ensure a smooth and safe process. They can also teach you the best methods and demonstrate how to cut canine nails, thus making the process easier for both you and your pup moving forward. It’s also a good idea to start early – get your puppy used to having his paws and nails handled in the early stages of his life. This should help your dog feel comfortable when getting his nails clipped.

Be sure to avoid cutting near the quick and cut a small area of the nail at a time. If you’re not familiar with the term quick, it’s the tender part inside your dog’s nail that contains blood vessels and nerves. If you do cut the quick, you’ll hear him yelp out in pain. The cut will also cause bleeding, but try not to panic. If you have styptic powder handy you can use the powder around the nail area to stop the bleeding. Your pet isn’t in any immediate danger from the bleeding unless it does not stop. In that case, you’ll want to visit your vet for treatment.

Next Steps

If you do plan to cut your dog’s nails yourself, it’s key to obtain the proper grooming tools. Because dogs are thicker than our nails, don’t attempt to use your own nail clipper. Common problems that you may encounter include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bleeding
  • Dark colored nails
  • Fear
  • Discomfort

Your happy pup may experience anxiety during the nail cutting process. This can be due to a prior experience where the nail was cut too short and therefore caused pain. With darker nails, it can be hard for you to see the quick – so start by cutting just a small amount to be sure you’re not getting too close. Fear and previous discomfort can make the nail cutting process difficult, so be sure to keep an eye on your companion’s nails so that you know how often they should be trimmed. And remember, walking on hard surfaces and regular exercise can help to keep your pup’s nails shorter. If you’re starting out with trimming your dog’s nails go slow and start early.

Remember, a good rule of thumb is that your pup’s nails will need cutting about every four to six weeks or you can opt for filing to keep his nails short and smooth. A nail grinder can be a safer and slower alternative to cutting. Overall, keeping your dog’s nails a proper length is important to his health and safety. It’s equally important to get on a regular schedule so that both you and your pup feel comfortable with the process each time.

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