Trimming dog nails is by far one of the most annoying activities involving your beloved pet. Your pet hates it, you hate it and even professional groomers hate it. But then, it has to be done. It is all about keeping your dog healthy, so you need to do it on a regular basis.
There are more questions involving in this activity. How often should you trim dogs nails? Is your dog comfortable with you touching and handling its feet? Does it feel distressed? If the situation does not seem friendly enough, you will have to work on it before attempting to do it.
This guide will introduce you to everything you need to do in order to trim your dog’s nails without any discomfort at all. At the same time, it will educate you on the importance of nail trimming and the necessity of doing it every now and then. So, what should you know?
Do you really have to trim your dog’s nails?
The answer can go in two different directions. Generally speaking, you do have to cut your dog’s nails. But then, there are situations when this activity can be avoided. It depends on multiple factors, such as your dog breed or the level of activity it gets on a daily basis.
Nails will naturally get trimmed without you having to do anything. Whenever your dog walks on a hard surface, nails trim little by little. If you have no carpets in your household but just hard flooring, the nails will naturally go down to a particular level.
The same rule applies when your dog is walked on hard surfaces. For example, if your dog runs a lot on blacktop or concrete, nails will go down gradually. At this point, trimming nails is not really a necessity – or if it is, at least you do not have to do it too often.
Now, the truth is many dogs do not get the required amount of physical activity on hard surfaces to get their nails trimmed naturally. When indoors – even if you have no carpets, nails will barely go down a little. Plus, many dogs are at home when owners work, so they do not get too much activity on their own.
When taken outdoors, lots of dogs hang around parks or lawns. They do their running on soft surfaces. While outdoor activities involve a bit of walking on hard surfaces too, you will most likely choose a lawn or a park for running.
At this point, cutting your dog’s nails becomes a top notch priority. There are more reasons wherefore you have to pay attention to this factor. It is not all about grooming or looking good. Sure, long nails look unattractive, but the health related issues are more important than the aesthetic purpose.
Before moving on, what are the benefits of cutting your dog’s nails and why do you have to do it so often?
Why do you have to trim your dog’s nails?
Long nails are unattractive, indeed, but the health problems are more important. At the same time, you might want to know that long nails can also damage surfaces. If you have laminated parquet around your house, you will end up with small scratches all over it.
Think about your dog’s comfort as well. Basically, imagine having long nails and having to walk in tight shoes. When the dog steps, there will be a lot of pressure coming from the nails towards the bed, as the nail is pushed upwards. This kind of feeling causes lots of pain for your furry friend.
Apart from the painful element, this kind of issue will inevitably affect joints as well. Toes will have to go upwards, leading to damaged toe joints. In the long run, the dog’s skeletal system will inevitably need to realign in order to keep the foot flattened.
Long nails will affect the functionality of your pet as well. All these issues will target the overall weight distribution over the paws, so the bone alignment will suffer. Sooner or later, your dog will end up with various injuries. Painful and difficult walking will also change your dog’s walking style.
This issue is more likely to cause trouble in older dogs.
If nails are overlooked for too long and your dog cannot trim them naturally, they will overgrow. As a direct consequence, they will start curving. They will grow back into the dog’s pads. This problem might be referred to as animal abuse.
Even if you do not let it go so far, the problem can lead to split or torn nails, which will cause even more painful sensations. In some situations, the problem cannot be handled at home, so you will have to reach to a vet.
Finally, keep in mind that overlooking nails will lead to a vicious cycle that both you and your dog will be stuck in. It is just part of the game. As the nails are too long, any contact with the dog’s paws will lead to pain. Your dog will find walking a nightmare. Plus, it will try everything to avoid getting the paws touched.
You cannot touch the dog’s paws and nail trimming sessions will become extremely challenging and risky, so both you and your dog will try to avoid this activity. There will be longer times between two consecutive trimming sessions, so nails grow even longer, so your pet gets even more pain and problems.
How often should you trim dog’s nails?
This is one of the most common questions in a dog owner’s life – how often should you trim dog’s nails? The truth is there is no such thing as a general rule. While there are a few rules that may apply to most of the dogs, they are not general and they require a bit of individualization.
For many dogs that do not get enough running activity on hard surfaces, you might want to consider trimming nails every couple of weeks. There is a catch here. As nails get trimmed, blood vessels will go back into the pet’s claws. The more often you do it, the further back they go, making the venture easier and easier. From this point of view, regular nail trimming is quite essential.
You can tell if nails are too long by looking at them or at your dog. Have your dog stand in front of you. Are his front legs right under its shoulders? If they are, take a look at the nails. They should not touch the ground. If they do, your furry friend needs trimming.
If you have hard floors around your household, pay attention to the dog while it walks or runs. If you can hear the nails clicking, they obviously touch the ground, so they are too long. The rule of thumb applies if nails turn sidewards – they clearly get stuck on the ground, so the dog’s movement puts pressure on them.
There is another test you can do. Get a thin piece of paper and stick it under the dog’s nails. If it fits in, nails are alright. If it gets stuck, they are too long.
So, how often should you trim dog’s nail? It depends from one dog to another. It depends on the level of activity, the surfaces for such activities and the breed. There are, however, a few simple tests to figure out when to do it. Normally, once or twice a month will be enough.
How do you trim your dog’s nails?
You are less likely to cut your dog’s nails from your first attempt. Instead, you need to build some confidence and get your pet used to the trimming tool, regardless of what you choose for this activity. Come up with a plan and split it over a week or two.
During the first couple of days, let the clipper around the house. Make sure it is one the floor and your dog can see it. Your pet must get used to it. It will sniff the tool and maybe even play with it a little. It is important to ensure your dog cannot hurt itself or get injured, so keep an eye on it. When your dog sniffs it, give it a little treat. It will associate the clipper with a good thing then.
During the next few days, play with the clipper and let your dog join the fun. You can touch each paw with the clipper, so your dog realizes that it is not dangerous. Again, when done, give your friend a little treat. It will become part of a healthy habit.
During the fifth day, you will have to get your dog used to the activity. You can keep touching each paw with the clipper, but also squeeze it away from the paws. Do not trim nails yet, just let the dog get used to the noise. A treat is inevitably part of the game, so have one on you.
The sixth day goes back to the second stage, which involves nothing but touching. The seventh day involves squeezing the clipper again, so the dog can hear it. Make sure you get some treats out whenever it happens.
The eighth day is when it starts. Trim a tiny tip from one nail. Use one of the front paws. You have to do one nail only. If your dog lets you do it, give it lots of treats and praise it. Even if your furry friend has nothing against it, stick to one nail only.
The ninth day involves doing it for two nails. Keep going with an additional nail on a daily basis. After a couple of weeks, you will be able to do all four legs with no issues at all. Obviously, praise your pet and give it some treats.
Tips and tricks
Here are a few tips regarding this activity.
- Paws should be handled gently and firmly.
- The thumb goes on the pad and the forefinger goes on the top of the toe, close to the nail.
- Nails can be extended by slightly pushing the thump up and backward, while the forefinger has to go forward.
- Avoid the quick at all costs – the blood vessels. This is the pink area of the nail. If your dog has dark nails, look for a white ring.
So, how often should you trim the dog’s nail? It depends on several factors. This is the easiest part of the job, as you can observe nails when they grow. What is more challenging is building your dog’s confidence – give it a bit of time and lots of patience.