What you need to know about trimming your dogs nails

Most dogs need to have their nails trimmed monthly as adults, and more frequently as puppies. This can vary however, as a dog who spends his days indoors on carpet will need them trimmed more frequently than one who spends a lot of time walking on concrete. If not naturally worn down or clipped, long nails can cause a variety of problems, from sore feet to nails that grow around and back into the pad of the foot, causing the need for surgical removal by a vet. Long nails can also cause splay feet, and get caught in the dog’s coat or other objects such as rugs.

Getting Started

Before you begin, take a close look at your dog’s nails. When trimmed properly, they should not touch the floor, and there should be no “clicking” noise as he or she walks across a hard surface. It may or may not be possible to cut nails this short, depending on their current condition.

Regular Maintenance is Key

When nails have not been trimmed regularly, the quick (the vein and nerves inside the nail) also grows, and will bleed if cut into. It is possible, however, to recede the quick, by trimming the nail very close every 4 to 10 days, until it no longer touches the ground. It can then be maintained with monthly trims.

Do not forget to trim the dewclaws if your dog has them. Dogs can have both front and rear dewclaws as well as multiple dewclaws on each foot.

Locating the “Quick”

The “quick” is a small damp looking spot which is softer to the touch and darker than the surrounding nail. Contrary to popular belief, it is just as easy to locate the quick in dark nails as in white ones by looking from underneath rather than through the side of the nail. After cutting a couple of nails it becomes easier to approximate the location of the quick, as it grows to a similar distance within each nail.

If you accidentally cut the quick on your dog, do not panic. Apply pressure to the toe, and an antiseptic coagulant powder. Dip your moistened finger into the powder, and press it firmly to the bleeding nail. Do not rub or smear, but hold it in place for a short time. Release and check if the bleeding has stopped. If not, apply more powder and press again. Continue this until the bleeding stops. If you have “quicked” your dog, try not to let him run on concrete or rough surfaces for several hours, as this may cause small amounts of bleeding.

Be sure to use sharp nail trimmers. Dull trimmers will crush, not cut and cause bleeding and pain.