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Dog Nail Trimming Tips

Veterinarians and Pet Care
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Dog nail trimming is necessary to keep your dog’s nails trim and healthy. Nails that become too long can scratch people, floors and furniture; they may also snag on carpet or blankets and can even cause difficulties with your dog’s balance and mobility.

When are Dog Nails Too Long?

Dogs should be able to stand squarely on the floor with their toes level. When a dog’s nails become too long, the toes are raised upwards and the dog may stand with the legs wide apart and the shoulders hunched. If your dog begins skidding on floors too, it can be a sign that a nail trim is needed.

How to Avoid Cutting the Cuticle

Dog nail trimming can cause bleeding and pain if the cuticle is accidentally cut. For dogs that have clear white nails, the pink colored start of the cuticle can be easily located and avoided. However, dog nails that are black require a more delicate touch to avoid cuticle injuries.

If you are unsure of where your dog’s nail cuticle begins, trim just the tips off the nails. Typically, the cuticle begins just above the point of the nail where the nail becomes thicker – if you avoid cutting into this part of the nail you will usually avoid accidentally cutting your dog’s cuticles.

If the Cuticle is Cut

A cut cuticle will bleed continuously for quite some time after the cut occurred. While the slight blood loss will not harm your dog, it can stain floors and carpet. It is best to have some pet styptic powder or pads on hand if you are trimming your dog’s nails; these products will immediately stop any bleeding cuticles.

If you do not have any styptic products, apply pressure to the cuticle with a tissue but expect the nail to continue to bleed some after it is cut.

When a Professional Touch is Needed

Dog nail trimming can be performed in the home, but some pet owners are not comfortable trimming their dog’s nails; in some cases too, a pet owner may be unable to restrain or hold their dog during this process. In these instances, a veterinary or grooming clinic is best equipped to trim a dog’s nails.

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