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How Often Should You Trim Your Dog's Nails

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When Should You Trim

Knowing when to trim your dog's nails is really important for the safety and well-being of the dog. There is also nothing more annoying than a dog walking across a hardwood floor and hearing the click, click, click of every toenail hitting the floor. If you are hearing this, it is time for a trim.

Dog nails that have not been trimmed are long, hard and can split in two easily, which can create a painful paw for the dog. Trimming the nails protects from injury and infection. You don't want to wait until there is a problem and have to go to the veterinarian for medical attention. That happens more times than you would think.

Overgrown nails cause the dog to walk differently and use different pressure points on their paws. They carry themselves differently. Over time, if they walk on their nails, it causes the bones in their feet to adjust and causes joint pain and potentially arthritis. You want to avoid that from happening by providing routine maintenance and care.

How Often To Trim

There are three ways to accomplish trimming your dog's feet. You can trim it yourself, have a professional groomer do it or a veterinarian. The length of time between trims depends on your breed of dog and how active he/she is. Different dogs have different growth rates for their feet. If your dog is active and exercising frequently, those nails are going to tend to grow faster than a dog that is a couch potato and not on his feet all day. The usual rule of thumb is bi-weekly or monthly for a foot trim.

Trimming Puppy Nails

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Puppies require more frequent nail trims than adult dogs as their toes are growing at a faster rate. Those little claws can be sharp! It is easy to snip the edges off quickly, without hurting the puppy or cutting into the quick. It is good to do at a young age as they get used to their feet being handled at a young age and it makes it easier to trim them when they are older.

Long Nails

If your dog's nails have not been cut in quite some time and seem to be extra-long and in dire need for a trim, don't panic. Start in small intervals and just trim a tiny bit off at a time. Wait a brief period, and trim some more until you finally get the desired length you are seeking. If you try and do too much at once, it is next to impossible and the material is hard and will not cut well. 

If your dog is adamant that you nor anyone else is going to trim their feet, contact your local veterinarian and ask them for assistance. Some dogs require sedation in order to get it done. 

Trimming at Home 

If you decide to tackle it on your own at home, here are a few tricks of the trade that might make the process go a whole lot smoother: 

  •  Get the puppy or dog used to you touching and holding his feet
  • Tire him out first. Play with him or do it when he is sleepy. It is much easier than trying to trim a dog full of energy that is ready to play. 
  • Get on his level. Sit on the floor with his paw in your hand. Do not put him up in a chair. It is less stressful for him if you are down on his level. 
  • Use Guillotine clippers on him. Human clippers are the wrong size and shape for a dog. It can do more damage than good so use dog clippers. 

  • Make sure the clippers are sharp. Dull clippers can damage the nail. 
  • Reward often. If the dog starts to seem annoyed or restless, offer a treat and praise him to be good. If fido really is uncomfortable, stop trying for the day and revisit it the next day. 
  • If the nail happens to bleed after a trim, don't panic. Simply clean and wrap the wound with a band-aid and move-on. 
  • If a nail is bleeding, apply styptic powder on it. It should stop bleeding within 5 minutes or so. Keep the foot dry and wrapped in a band-aid. It may sting a little so be ready to comfort your dog. If you do not have any styptic powder, apply a little bit of cornstarch or baking powder or even flour if needed. If the bleeding persists, contact a local veterinarian. 

  • Make sure you do the dewclaws. Dewclaws are located 1 to 4 inches about the paw on the inside of the leg. These grow just as rapid as their other toes so don't forget to trim them as well. 

Keep up the routine. You will need to trim every 2 to 4 weeks depending on how active your dog is and how quickly his toes grow. Make it good practice to have it be part of your routine to manage his trims when needed. If you are concerned about your dog getting the hiccups and the tricks of the trade to get rid of them, try and prevent them from occurring in the first place. Serve small meals more often than a big meal once or twice a day. Prevent the dog from gulping down his food and taking in air that might cause the hiccups by allowing him to count on small frequent meals. Lack of exercise may also cause digestive problems. Get some dog toys for your dog to easily help him take more exercise. 

Confidence is Key 

A final trick, is to always be confident when grooming or trimming your dogs feet. Dogs know when you are afraid or not confident in what you are doing. If you approach this task with confidence, it will be easier for your dog to relax and go with the flow to get the task done.

There are several very popular dog trimming tools and grinders available online that most people use for this service when doing it yourself. You can quickly research what is available on the market and choose something that will work. You can also have your local groomer do the deed on a regular basis or you can have it done at your local veterinarian's office. No matter which method you choose, keeping your dog's feet trimmed is healthy and advantageous for him to succeed and after all we all want a happy and healthy pet so trim regularly, trim often! Give your pet the best possible chance to be comfortable with his feet with trimmed toes of perfection!

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