Are your dog’s nails constantly tapping across your wooden floors? Trimming your pup’s nails isn’t the most exciting part of being a pet parent, but it is one of the most important.
Regular nail trimming benefits your dog’s overall health and should be a part of your grooming routine. Read on to learn how often you should cut your dog’s nails, as well as tips to keep their nails shorter for longer.
Why Trimming Your Dog’s Nails Is Important
Trimming your dog’s nails is more than just an aesthetic choice – it’s crucial for their health and well-being. If their nails get too long, they can lead to painful toe joints, arthritis, and even nerve damage.
Left untrimmed, your dog’s claws grow into a curved shape. Eventually, that curve will dig into the skin, making it uncomfortable and even painful for them to walk. To ease the pain, your dog will shift their weight onto their back paws, leading to joint aches, muscle soreness, and arthritis.
Dogs are also evolutionarily programmed to associate their toenails touching the ground with being on a hill. Because of that, they will shift their body posture to accommodate a hill even though none is present. This leaning posture leads to overused joints.
Long nails also put your dog at risk of injury if they get caught in the fabric of furniture or carpets. Not only can your dog hurt their paws trying to pry their nails out, but the snagging can damage the outer enamel of their nail, leading to potential infection.
How Often Should You Clip Your Dog’s Nails?
How often you need to clip your dog’s nails will depend on how quickly their nails grow. This can be affected by many factors, like how active your dog is, what they eat, and their current health condition.
Your dog’s nails should be clipped as often as they need to be to prevent them from touching the ground when they stand. On average, this means clipping them every three to four weeks.
7 Tips to Make Trimming Your Dog’s Nails Easier
Here are our top seven tips for taking the stress out of canine nail trimming:
1. Take Walks on Concrete
The surface that your dog walks on most of the time can affect how quickly their nails grow. If your dog is a lap dog that spends most of their time snoozing on the couch, their nails will grow quicker than a dog that takes frequent walks on rough surfaces like concrete or asphalt.
The harder the surface is that your dog takes their walks on, the more it will naturally grind their nails down. Dirt will be more effective than grass, but concrete will be the most effective.
2. Keep Your Dog Active with Agility Sports
While walks are helpful for naturally wearing your dog’s nails down, there are other ways to keep them active and ensure their nails stay short. If your dog loves agility courses or other dog sports, the frequent force and motion of their nails on a surface will help grind them down.
3. Start Your Dog Early with Nail Clippings
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 adulthood.
Touch your dog’s paws often when they’re young and reward them with a treat afterward, even if you’re not clipping their nails. This helps get your dog comfortable with having their paws touched which will not only make clipping their nails easier, but it can make future vet appointments easier as well.
4. Make Clipping Your Dog’s Nails Fun
For most dogs, nail clipping is a stressful experience – or at least something they’d rather avoid.
To combat this, come to a nail clipping session prepared with lots of treats. Reward your dog frequently for calm behavior, and give them plenty of praise. The more positive you can make the experience, the easier it will be next time.
Treats are also a great way to keep your dog distracted and occupied while you clip their nails. Try a stuffed food toy or spread dog-safe peanut butter onto a lick mat nearby. Because licking is a naturally calming behavior, this has the added benefit of stress relief.
5. Keep Styptic Powder on Hand
For many pet parents, the most nerve-wracking part of the process is the fear that you’ll cut your dog’s nails too short.
Typically, you want to clip your dog’s nails behind their natural curve, where the quick starts, which is the pink portion of the nail containing nerves and blood vessels.
If you clip the quick, it will start to bleed – but there’s no need to panic. Holding styptic powder on your dog’s nail for just a few seconds can stop the bleeding quickly.
6. Be Consistent
It’s tempting to put off clipping your dog’s nails for as long as possible, but the experience gets easier the more that you do it.
Dogs love routine, and clipping their nails regularly helps them get used to the process. It also keeps their nails at a manageable level, making it easier to clip them next time.
7. Seek Professional Help
If trimming your dog’s nails is too stressful for both you and your pup, seeking help from a professional groomer or your vet may be the best option.
Your dog’s anxiety can feed off of your own, so having a neutral, trained party intervene and clip your dog’s nails can make the whole experience easier.
Is Your Dog Ready for a Nail Trim?
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.
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