Pedicure for your pooch: Trimming your dog’s nails

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Are your dog’s nails constantly tapping across your porcelain tiles or wooden floor boards?

Clipping your dog’s nails may seem stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. With a better understanding of how often you should trim your dog’s nails, as well as the right tools and treats on hand, you can make it a positive experience for both you and your dog.

Why is nail clipping so important?

Trimming your dog’s nails is important for their health and wellbeing. If their nails get too long, they can lead to lameness, ingrown toe nails, and even damaged joints. Left untrimmed, your dog’s nails grow into a curved shape. Eventually, they may penetrate the skin, making it uncomfortable and even painful for them to walk. Long nails also put your dog at risk of injury if they get caught in the fabric of furniture or carpets.

How often should your clip your dog’s nails?

This will depend on how quickly their nails grow. The nails should be clipped as often as they need to be to prevent them from touching the ground when they stand. This can be clipping them every four to six weeks.

How do I do it?

Gently hold the toe between your fingers and work slowly and carefully. Clip the tip of the nail only and don’t forget the dewclaws, located on the inner side of the paw. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you will risk hitting the quick of the nail that contains the blood vessels. A nick there is painful and will bleed. For dogs with dark nails, watch for a chalky white ring and do not clip beyond this point.

Start your dog early

The younger that you start clipping your dog’s nails, the better. As a puppy, your dog will be more open to new experiences, and you have an opportunity to build positive associations that will carry them through to adulthood. Touch your puppy’s paws often and reward them with a treat afterward, even if you’re not clipping their nails.

Make nail clipping fun

For most dogs, nail clipping is a stressful experience – or at least something they would rather avoid. Reward your dog frequently for calm behaviour, and give them plenty of praise and treats.

Seek professional help

If trimming your dog’s nails is too stressful for both you and your dog, seek help from your veterinary team or a professional groomer. If the experience is all too stressful, your vet can discuss sedation and/or a brief twilight anaesthetic.

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