Dog Nail Clipping - A Vet Nurse Guide


Dog Nail Clipping Questions?

As veterinary professionals, we constantly get asked about nail clipping for dogs. These range from sensible questions around when and how, right through to the amusing ones such as, 'can I put nail varnish on my dog's nails?' (By the way, we can not recommend this!)

Below are some answers to the most common questions our team get asked.

Do my dogs' nails need clipping?

You can check for the ideal length by being able to slip a piece of paper between the floor and your dog's nails.

If they are clicking on the floor, curling to the side or touching the floor then it's probably time for a trim!

Sometimes it's mainly the dew claws and the front nails that will require a trim.

Why is it important to trim your dog's nails?

If your dog's nails become too long it can lead to pain and injury.

Nails can curl all the way around and become embedded into their pad. Long nails are also a lot more prone to snagging and breaking which is also very painful. If left over a long period, long nails can also lead to spinal and posture problems, lameness, difficulty walking and seriously affect your dog's quality of life.

How often does my dog need a nail trim?

The answer is different for all dogs! Some dogs who are more active and walk on pavement more often may only need a dew claw trim every few months. Other less active dogs and certain breeds may need trims every 6 weeks.

Should I be doing this myself, or do I need a veterinary professional to do it?

This depends. Many dog owners are comfortable trimming their dog's nails, whilst others seek assistance from a veterinary professional or a dog groomer.

Many dogs don't enjoy having their nails trimmed, and tempers can flare. If your dog has a bite reaction to discomfort, then be aware of this or seek advice. Sometimes it may be required for a second person to assist in restraining the dog whilst someone else does the trimming.

Dog groomers or veterinary nurses are able to help if you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself.

Some dogs don't like going to veterinary practices as they can get nervous or anxious. Pet Nurse Services can visit you in the comfort of your own home and take the stress and anxiety out of nail trimming. Book an appointment with one of our nurses today.

Can I use human nail clippers?

No! Please don't use human nail clippers or scissors. Your dog's nails are completely different, and using the wrong tool for the job can result in painful splits or damage to the nail itself. Get your self some dog nail trimmers - you can buy them online at places like Amazon, or in any local pet shop.

If you are unsure whether it is something you can handle yourself, then why not book a nurse visit, and one of our team can run you through some tips and tactics to ensure you are doing everything correctly.

Tips & Tricks

There are two tips that instantly spring to mind.

Firstly, be quick about it! If your dog is anxious or stressed, then you need to get the process over with as quickly as possible. Don't rush, but work methodically and with intent.

The second tip would be to familiarise and desensitise your dog from having their feet handled. Use treats and rewards and ask your dog to allow you to examine their foot. Show them the clippers, and hold them near the dog's feet with a treat as a reward. Get them used to seeing the nail clippers and having them near their feet and associate that with a reward, rather than just a trauma! Do this every day for a few weeks, and most dogs lose the anxiety and will allow owners to trim away with minimal protest.

Cats and small mammals

Indoor and elderly cats will require nail trims every few months to prevent nails curling and digging into their pads. Long nails can also affect cats' mobility so it's important to keep a check on them!

Other indoor small mammals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs may need nail trims every month or two. It's important to keep a check on them as they are likely to curl and snag.

How do I book a nail clip for my pet?

Our nurse team can visit you in your own home where anxiety is lowest. More information on our nail clipping services is available here. Feel free to get in touch to speak to a member of our nursing team.