How long should dog nails be? Should you do this yourself at home, or should you take your pup to a professional dog groomer? If you try it yourself, what happens if bleeding occurs? These are all very important questions – more important than you may think.
Keeping those nails trim will help your companion’s feet stay healthy and comfortable. Here’s a look at why your dog’s nails need to be at a certain length, and some tips on how to trim them if you would rather do this at home.
How Long Should Dog Nails Be And How Often Should You Get Them Cut?
In general, you should either trim your dog’s nails or take them to the groomer for a nail trim, whenever your dog’s nails touch the floor. Have your pup stand and take a look at its paws. If the nails are making contact with the ground, it’s time for a trim. For some dogs, this means getting nail trims every week or two.1
Factors That Determine How Fast A Dog’s Nails Will Grow
Your dog’s feet, like your feet, go through a lot during the day. A dog’s paws come in contact with a lot of hard surfaces, such as concrete and hardwood flooring. If you have an active pup who loves walks around the neighborhood, this may allow you to go longer in between nails trims. This is because the concrete causes friction on your dog’s nails and can act in a similar way to a nail file.2
But if your dog likes to lounge a lot, or tends to walk on soft surfaces such as grass in your backyard, then their nails won’t experience that friction. If this sounds like your pet, make sure to check their nails often and keep up with trims.3
It’s even more important for a senior dog to have trim nails. As dogs get older – much like humans – they tend to be less active. The less active a dog, the faster their nails will grow. This causes them to lose traction when they walk. They will also have trouble walking or even standing – causing any existing joint problems to worsen.4
Why Is It So Important To Regularly Trim A Dog’s Nails?
When a dog’s nails get too long it can not only hurt you when they jump off your lap, but it can lead to significant pain for them. For example, the nails could pierce the bottom of the feet or the paw pads. This not only causes pain but could also increase the risk of infection. When nails get too long, they are also prone to splitting, another extremely painful potential outcome.5
Making The Nail Trimming Experience More Comfortable For Both You And Your Dog
A lot of pet owners simply can’t bring themselves to trim their dog’s nails because they are afraid of cutting too close to the nail quick. That’s understandable, especially if your dog has black nails or has trouble sitting still. The last thing you’ll want to do is cause your beloved companion to feel any pain. If you can’t bring yourself to cut your dog’s nails, please don’t hesitate to take your pup to a dog groomer for a trim.
If you are willing to cut your dog’s nails on your own, it would probably be a good idea to go see a groomer or your vet before you start. They can show you the proper technique to do so. They also know a lot about how to keep a dog calm through the process.6
If you just brought a puppy home, this will be the perfect time to get them acclimated to having their nails cut. Handle their paws on a regular basis. That way, they’ll be used to the sensation when it’s time to trim. When you are ready to cut, keep treats nearby to reward your pup for staying still.7
Tools To Help You Safely Cut Dog Nails: Nail Trimmers, Clippers For Dogs, And More
There are a few main types of clippers used for nail trims. These include nail grinders, guillotine nail clippers, and pliers-type clippers. Here’s a quick look at each.
Guillotine nail clippers – Don’t be scared off by the name. These simply work on the same principle. You gently insert the dog’s nail into a small hole and then squeeze the device. A small blade comes down to cut off the tip.8
Grinder tools – Some dogs hate clippers but will tolerate a grinder. As the name implies, these tools grind nails rather than cut them.9
Pliers-type clippers – These work in much the same way as the pruning shears you probably have in your garage. They’re typically best for larger dogs with thicker nails. Pliers-type clippers supply the extra force needed to cut these kinds of nails.10
A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Trim Dog Nails
If you decide to cut your pup’s nails yourself, you’ll want to have a few other things on hand as well. You should have some treats nearby, as well as some cotton balls and styptic powder. This will help stop any bleeding should an accident occur. As long as you’re careful, no bleeding should occur. It will be better to be prepared just in case.
Find a good place to sit in a room with a lot of light. Your dog can be in either a reclining or standing position. As long as your dog is relaxed, it shouldn’t matter. Here’s how to do it.
How To Cut Your Dog’s Nails With Clippers (Guillotine Or Plyer-style)
- Hold the clippers in your stronger hand. Hold your dog’s paw in your other hand – gently, yet firmly. Keep your thumb on the bottom and your fingers on the top.
- Place the blades at the nail tip. Only cut off about a millimeter or two at a time. You need to be very careful not to cut the quick (the part that contains blood vessels and nerves).
- Check the portion you just cut. If you see an oval-shaped marking, you’re close to the nail bed as well as the quick, and it’s time to move onto the next nail.
- Smooth the edges of each nail with a nail file.11
Trimming Nails With A Grinder
- The first step is the same as cutting with clippers. Hold the grinder in your stronger hand while holding your dog’s paw firmly but gently in the other.
- Apply the grinder very gently to the nail tips for two seconds.
- Once you see the first sign of the quick (the oval-shaped mark you learned about earlier), move on to another nail.12
It’s typically a lot easier to trim white nails because it’s easier to see the quick. If your dog has black nails, you’ll need to be even more careful. If you have any doubts whatsoever about trimming your dog’s nails, take your pet to the vet or a local groomer.