When should I have my dog’s nails clipped?


This is a question that many of our clients ask when they come in.  We find that the answer tends to depend on whether you walk your dog over concrete areas or not.  As a dog’s nail comes into contact with concrete a minor amount of filing occurs as they nail drags across the surface.  Given enough time and enough walks, the nail tends to stay shorter and blunt.  Indoor dogs or dogs that exercise on grassy areas or turf tend to have longer nails which require periodic trimming, typically every 4 to 5 weeks.

A dog’s nail is rather complex. It consists of a hard outer shell and a soft cuticle in the center consisting of nerve and blood vessels. The cuticle is typically referred to as the “quick” of the nail. If the quick is cut, the nail will bleed and the dog will feel pain.  If your dog’s nails are black or dark in color, it will be hard for you to see inside. On light-colored nails, it is easy to see the quick.  Whether black or white the nail anatomy is still the same. Click on the diagram and familiarize yourself with the anatomy of your dog’s nails.

When you bring your baby into our salon for a bath or groom we will assess the health of your pet’s nails and clip them as short as we can get them.  As nails grow so do their quicks which in turn defines just how much nail a groomer can safely remove without causing trauma to the nail and exposing the quick.  The good news here is that while quicks grow they can also recede over time.  We can achieve this by clipping the nail more often.  In cases where a dog’s nails are excessively long we clip back as far as we can safely go and then request the client bring the dog back in every couple of weeks for a nail clipping so that we can start training the quicks to recede further back into the nail bed.  More frequent clippings will result in shorter quicks hence shorter nails.  Once we’ve achieved the desired length, the pet can then resume regular clippings at about every 4 to 5 weeks.

It’s important to note that nails will continue to grow whether they get clipped or not.  If left unchecked nails will continue to grow and can curve inward towards the pads where they will embed themselves causing discomfort and pain.  Sometimes the nails grow outward and reach a point where the pressure being applied either causes them to break (a painful experience especially if they break or come out at the socket) or they twist towards the left or right and continue to grow in that direction.  This can lead to arthritis of the toes and if left untreated can cause arthritic symptoms to travel up the legs to the shoulders and hips. 

The issues described in this article can be averted simply by keeping the nails trimmed short.  At the Dog Grooming Shop it is not necessary to make an appointment to get your pet’s nails clipped.  Stop by during our normal business hours and we’ll be more than happy to provide this service.  Clipping usually takes just a few minutes depending on the size and temperament of your pet.  How often do you get your pet’s nails clipped?