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Nutrition & Grooming

Nail Care

Every dog needs a regular pedicure – even the boys. Long nails can uncomfortably splay your dog’s toes and stop their foot pads from touching the ground. They can also do damage to your carpet, furniture, other animals and people!

But just as we used to hate mom trying to cut our toenails, most dogs hate getting their claws done - unless you know the tricks of the trade.

When Should I Start Trimming My Puppy’s Nails?

The earlier you start, the quicker your puppy will get used to it, and the easier it becomes.

What Do I Use To Cut My Dogs Nails With?

Use one of the many different nail trimmers or clippers designed just for dogs. Staff at your veterinary clinic will be able to advise you on the most appropriate type and style of nail clippers for your puppy.

How Do I Get My Puppy Ready For Nail Trimming?

If you only ever touch your dog's feet when you're about to clip their nails, protest is inevitable. So you want to try and teach your dog that playing footsies is no big deal.

When you're cuddling your pup, hold and gently massage each foot. If you start this in early days they’ll get used to it quickly. If they fight, gently take a foot in your hand and give them a treat.

If they pull their foot away, don't give them the treat until you're holding the foot again. When you can hold the foot for at least 30 seconds without a struggle, they are ready for nail trimming.

How Do I Trim My Pup’s Nails?

  • have your puppy in your lap when you first trim their nails. In some cases you may need another set of hands to keep squirming pups in place.
  • hold a foot up in the palm of your hand and use your fingers to manipulate and secure the digit so you can access and clip a nail. Talk calmly to your puppy as you do this to give them some reassurance.
  • once you’re done, praise your brave little boy or girl and offer them a treat so they begin to associate nail trimming with rewards.
  • Things To Beware Of When Trimming Your Puppy's Nails

The quick

Dog’s nails have a blood vessel, known as the quick, which extends down into the nail. Be careful not to cut this or the nail will bleed and cause some discomfort.

If your dog has light pink to white nails, you should be able to see the quick. If your dog has black nails, you won’t be able to see the quick, so be very careful when clipping.

How short to clip

A general rule of thumb (or should we say paw) is to clip the nails no shorter than the base of the digital pad. In other words, when your dog is standing, the nail should still just touch the ground. You can buy clippers that make sure you don’t cut any shorter.

Bleeding nails

If you do clip the quick, the nail can bleed profusely. To help stem the bleeding, apply pressure with a napkin or soft cloth.

Dew claws

Most dogs have four digits with nails on their front and hind paws, but some have a fifth digit called the dew claw, on the inner side of their leg, near the paw. It’s like our thumb. Dew claws are more common on the forelegs, but some dogs also have them on the hind legs.You need to keep an eye on these nails, as they don’t touch the ground and don’t get worn down from running around. In some cases they can grow very long, curl back around and bury into your dog’s leg, causing pain and infection.

Additional Information

Canada’s Guide to Dogs

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