Vet answers pet owners’ most common questions about clipping your dog’s nails

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Vets are swarmed with questions every day from concerned pet owners, whether that be regarding a sudden change in their dog's health or general queries.

But for Caroline Reay, Head of Veterinary Services at national pet charity Blue Cross, there is one question she gets most often.

You may find yourself asking the vet the same query when you visit the local surgery –“Do my dog’s nails need trimming?”

Is it an activity you need to do often, and does it affect your pup's health? Vet Caroline answers the common questions around nail trimming for your pooch.

Trimming your dog's nails, especially by yourself, can be a very tricky process. If done wrong, it could lead to cuts on your dog's paws that will leave bloody paw prints all over the house, writes TeamDogs.

Owners often feel concerned about their dog's nails when they hear them clicking on the floor when they’re walking on a hard surface, but Caroline says that this is entirely normal.

If your puppy jumps up on people, then those nails can be sharp. However, the answer to this is teaching your puppy from a young age how to greet people with all paws on the ground.

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For most dogs that have regular exercise, nails don’t need trimming. Walking on pavements or roads will naturally wear down their claws. The exception would be if your dog has dewclaws as they can’t reach the floor when walking. These are the little nails that are visible on the wrist.

Sometimes older dogs’ nails do grow overly long due to their weight and change in the way they walk. If they are arthritic then they may not properly weight bear on one or more feet so these nails become overgrown.

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They can even grow round into a circle and dig into the paw which isn’t comfortable for them. It’s best to keep an eye on them every so often and judge when they become uneven.

You can trim your dog’s nails yourself at home and it’s a good idea to get your dog used to having their feet handled from a very early age using reward-based training.

Often dogs feel uncertain when having their nails clipped which makes it difficult if rewards aren’t involved as a distraction.

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If you are going to clip nails, get a proper dog nail clipper appropriate for the size of your dog and avoid clipping the quick (that’s the pink fleshy bit running down the centre of the nail) or the nail will bleed.

It’s always best to take off less rather than more. If it’s your first time cutting your dog’s nails at home, start off with little snips. Keep calm and relaxed when you try to trim nails as this will help your dog to relax too. If this fails, try adding in a reward for your dog.

You can find more advice on caring for your pet on the Blue Cross website

  • TeamDogs

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