Trimming your dog’s nails is essential for preventing discomfort, infections, and mobility issues. Our guide delves into the importance of regular nail maintenance, offering insights into how often and how to trim your pet’s nails for optimal health. Learn to recognize when it’s time for a trim and discover expert tips for a smooth grooming routine. 

Understanding Your Dogs’ Nails

A dog’s nail comprises a harder outer shell and a sensitive inner cuticle known as the quick, which contains sensitive nerves and blood vessels. Recognizing the quick is easier in dogs with clear nails, where it appears as a pinkish area within the nail. On the other hand, you need to illuminate those dogs with dark nails to see where the trim should stop.

Doing this nail care is vital for your dog’s health and mobility. Long nails can lead to discomfort, according to the Kennel Club, as they push back into the nail bed and potentially alter your dog’s walking pattern, resulting in joint pain, altered gait, or arthritis. Moreover, they can snag on surfaces or break, causing pain and infection.

dog nails

You should inspect your dog’s nails to determine the need for a trim. Some indications include:

  • Nails clicking on the floor
  • Nails curling or growing into paw pads
  • Difficulty walking or standing on hard surfaces
  • Nails visibly touching the ground when standing

If these signs are ignored, this can lead to several issues, such as:

  • Infections
  • Overgrowth
  • Ingrown nails
  • Discomfort and pain

Typically, you need their nails trimmed every three to four weeks, according to Teresa Manucy, DVM. Still, the frequency can vary with each dog depending on their activity level and the rate of their nails’ growth. Some dogs wear their nails down naturally, more so than others, but regular checks are a good practice.

Remember, the goal is to maintain nails of a length where they don’t touch the ground when your dog is standing. 

Determining the Right Frequency

When deciding how often to trim your dog’s nails, there are general guidelines you can follow. Although nail trimming is typically necessary every 3 to 4 weeks, this can vary based on individual factors such as:

  • Breed: Some dog breeds, like German Shepherd Dogs and Shih Tzu, have faster-growing nails due to their lifestyle and paws’ less exposure to hard surfaces. Some may need to be nail trimmed every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Age: Younger dogs may need more frequent nail trims, generally every 2 to 4 weeks, due to undergoing rapid overall growth.
  • Activity level: If the dog walks regularly on hard surfaces, this may wear down their nails naturally, necessitating less frequent trims every 4 to 6 weeks.

Tools and Preparation

When nail trimming, gathering the necessary tools and preparing yourself and your dog for the process is important. 

Here’s a list of the essential tools for trimming your dog’s nails:

  • Dog nail clippers: Opt for a style you feel comfortable handling—guillotine, pliers, or scissor-type clippers are commonly used.
  • Nail grinder: You may also use a Dremel to smooth out edges or for skittish dogs about clippers.
  • Styptic powder: Styptic powders are what you’ll use to stop bleeding if you cut a nail too short.
  • Treats: It’s important to reward your dog and create positive associations with nail trimming by giving them treats.

Preparing Your Dog

  • Exercise: Give your dog some exercise prior so they’re less energetic and more compliant.
  • Desensitization: Gradually get your dog accustomed to having their paws handled by gently touching their feet regularly.
  • Introduction: Introduce the tools to your dog without actually trimming to build familiarity.
  • Comfort zone: Choose a quiet, well-lit place where your dog feels safe and comfortable.

You can make nail trimming a straightforward task by having the right tools and creating a calm environment. Remember to maintain a calm demeanor, as dogs can pick up on your anxiety, making the experience stressful for them.

Step-by-Step Nail Trimming Guide

To trim your dog’s nails properly, follow the following steps after preparing the tools, your dog, and yourself:

1. Get Your Dog Accustomed

If your dog is not used to nail trimming, spend some time getting them comfortable with the tools and the sounds they make. Touch and hold their paws gently to get them used to the sensation.

2. Identify the Nail’s Quick

The quick is the pink area contained inside the nail that contains blood vessels and sensitive nerves. Avoid cutting into it as it can be painful and cause bleeding. 

In dogs with dark nails, the quick is harder to see, so trim small amounts at a time or use a Dremel with a built-in light to see the sensitive part better.

3. Start Trimming

Hold your dog’s paw firmly and clip the tip of the nail at a 45-degree angle—take care not to cut too close to the quick.

If using a grinder, gently grind the nail down in short bursts, being careful not to get too close to the quick.

4. Check for Smoothness

After trimming, feel the edges of the nails. If they’re sharp, smooth them out with a nail file or the grinding tool. This is so your dog’s nails won’t snag on objects like carpets. 

5. Reward Your Dog

Give your dog a treat and praise them for staying calm.

6. Repeat for All Nails

Continue the process for all the nails, including the dewclaws, if your dog has them.

7. Handle Bleeding

If you accidentally cut the nail’s quick and the nail bleeds, apply styptic powder or a styptic pen to the tip of the nail to stop the bleeding.

8. Keep a Regular Schedule

Clipping your dog’s nails regularly will help keep them comfortable and prevent overgrowth.

If your dog is extremely anxious or if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, consider seeking the help of a professional groomer or veterinarian.

Tips to Avoid the Quick

  • Trim just a small amount at a time.
  • Stop when you’re uncertain—it’s better to err on caution.
  • If your dog has clear nails, cut until you see a pale oval appear.
  • For dark nails, look for a change in texture or a chalky ring, or use a bright light.

Aftercare and Monitoring

After trimming your dog’s nails, it’s essential to ensure they are comfortable and that their nails are in good condition. 

This section discusses what you should do during the aftercare and signs to monitor:

  • Check for discomfort: Observe your dog walking around after the nail trim to ensure they are comfortable and not limping. Sometimes, nails clipped too short may be sensitive for a short while.
  • Monitor for bleeding: If you accidentally cut the quick, keep an eye on the nail for a few minutes to ensure the bleeding has stopped. If it continues, reapply styptic powder or seek veterinary assistance if necessary.
  • Schedule the next session: Based on how quickly your dog’s nails grow and their activity level, plan the next nail trimming session to maintain healthy nail length.

Signs of Healthy vs. Unhealthy Nails:

Healthy Nails:

  • Smooth and consistent in color.
  • Appropriate length (not touching the ground when standing).
  • Free from cracks, splits, or excessive brittleness.

Unhealthy Nails:

  • Discoloration: Yellow, green, or black nails could indicate a fungal infection or other health issues, according to Brittany Kleszynski, DVM.
  • Cracks or splits: These can be painful and may lead to infection.
  • Overgrowth: Nails that curl or twist can cause discomfort and affect your dog’s gait.
  • Brittleness: Extremely dry and brittle nails may break easily, indicating nutritional deficiencies or health problems.
  • Swelling or redness: Around the nail bed may signal an infection or inflammation.

If you notice signs of unhealthy nails or if your dog seems to be in pain or discomfort after nail trimming, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for further evaluation and care. Regular monitoring and proper aftercare can help ensure your dog’s nails remain healthy.

Professional Help and When to Seek It

Sometimes, the task of nail trimming can be daunting or challenging for both you and your dog. It might be best to seek professional help from a groomer or vet in certain situations:

  • Uncertainty: If you’re unsure about the trimming process or nervous about cutting quick, a professional groomer can ensure your dog’s nails are trimmed safely.
  • Aggressive behaviors: Should your dog display aggression or anxiety when its paws are handled, a professional can help manage it during nail-cutting.

Health Issues Requiring a Vet

Certain symptoms necessitate prompt veterinary attention:

  • Infection: Infection: Signs of infection on the nail, such as redness, swelling, or pus, may point toward a nail bed infection.
  • Injury: Any apparent nail or paw injuries like broken nails or bleeding should be examined by a vet.
  • Unusual growth: Abnormal nail growth can indicate other health issues.

Where to Go if Your Dog Needs a Professional Groomer

If your dog needs professional grooming, Likeable Pets is a highly recommended mobile grooming service in Singapore. Our experienced team provides top-notch care, ensuring your pet looks and feels great. 

From nail trimming to full grooming, Likeable Pets brings convenience and quality to your doorstep, making it an ideal choice for busy pet owners or those unsure how to keep up with their dogs’ maintenance.

Take a look at our portfolio showcasing excellent transformations for our clients’ dogs:

Poodle-Bailey

This Poodle receives a charming haircut and essential grooming, enhancing its cuteness and ensuring a neat, well-maintained appearance.

Yogi-Goldendoodle

Meanwhile, this Goldendoodle receives a transformative grooming makeover, emerging with a neatly trimmed coat, freshly clipped nails, and a polished look that highlights its adorable features.

Izumi-Maltipoo

Lastly, this Maltipoo receives a stunning haircut, allowing its features to shine better! The coat on its body is trimmed down, a great choice for hot weather. The nails are also cut, and the facial fur is shaved for a neat look. 

Final Word

Regular nail trimming is crucial for your dog’s well-being, as neglected nails can cause discomfort and health issues. To prevent these problems, monitoring your pet’s nails and addressing any abnormalities is important.

For hassle-free nail care, consider using a mobile dog grooming service like Likeable Pets. We offer professional nail trimming as part of our comprehensive grooming services, ensuring your dog’s nails are kept in optimal condition.

Schedule your appointment with Likeable Pets by contacting us on WhatsApp at 86852360.