Dog puppy paws.

Learn How Often You Should Cut Your Dog's Nails - Puppy, Adult & Seniors.

Cutting your dog’s nails should be part of your dog’s grooming routine. Thankfully, you don’t have to cut them nearly as often as you may need to groom their fur. Depending on various factors, you can get away with cutting or grinding nails quite infrequently - isn’t that a blessing!

In today’s article, we’ll answer that crucial question of how often to cut dog nails for them to be healthy and neat.

Dog Paw being held by Human.

How Fast Do Dog Nails Grow?

There are several factors that contribute to the growth rate of your dog’s nails. (1)

Here is a quick summary of each of the main ones:

Genetics

This detailed guide will show you how to cut black dog nails without injuring your dog! Learn to grind or cut with confidence.

Some dogs are just born prima-donnas with luscious long nails. Others have naturally shorter, stumpier claws. There’s no real measure as to the variation between dogs when it comes to nail growth, but this is something to bear in mind.

Nutrition

Just like humans, good nutrition contributes to healthy hair and nail growth. Dog’s with poorer diets have weaker, more brittle nails that break more easily. Therefore dogs with great diets may have faster-growing nails.

Terrain

If your dog is active, the terrain that they commonly walk or run on can naturally grind down their nails. Terracotta tiling can also have the same effect. Concrete pavement is the most effective as being a free nail filer in the world. Sand and grass are less effective.

Activity Level

If your dog doesn’t get out much due to disability or old age, their nails won’t benefit from the natural nail filing of hard terrain (mentioned in the previous point). Therefore, their nails may seemingly grow faster than young, super active dogs.


How Do You Know When Your Dog’s Nails Need Trimming?

Dog nails can be deceptively neat for quite a long time when they could do with a cut. You need to be vigilant and check your dog’s paws often to notice the early signs.

Here is a quick checklist for raggedy nails:

Are your dog’s nails tapping on the floor? 

If you have hardwood flooring or tiling, you may hear the tip-tap of your dog walking around. This is a pretty clear sign that your dog’s nails need grooming. Your dog’s nails should not be dragging or tapping on the floor as they walk. This could be a health hazard as their nails could snag on threads or rocks during day-to-day life.

Are they scratching you more often?

If your dog is scratching you when they give you their paw, it’s time to whip out the nail grinders! Sharp nails are prone to snags and breaks so it’s best to file them down to a smooth finish and shortened length.

Is your dog “tip-toeing”?

Things are really bad if your dog appears to be tip-toeing around. This also manifests in slight limping if your dog is uncomfortable. It means that your dog can’t comfortably put their full paw down and walk normally. You need to clip those nails down pronto so that your dog can walk comfortably again.


How Often Should You Trim Dog Nails?

So the long and short of how often you should cut your dog’s nails depends on how fast they grow. You want your dog to be able to walk without their nails touching the floor. (2)

As a general rule of thumb, check your dog’s nails during every grooming session you have just in case. Most dog owners groom their dog’s nails every one to two months.

If you’re dealing with a puppy, I recommend that you get into the habit of grooming their nails every 2 months. If their nails don’t need a cut at the two month mark, still use the time to help your dog acclimatise to having their paws touched.

“Dogs that are worried about their feet being touched, when suddenly thrust into an emergency situation, will yank their paw away and maybe try to hide, snarl, growl and even bite. They are not bad dogs, they are simply scared and hurt.”  - Sophie Jackson from Pet Helpful (3)

Making a nail care routine and sticking to it will avoid these kinds of problems developing. If the nails don’t need cutting, that’s okay! Just train your dog to give you their paws. Then hold them as if you’re going to cut them. Use plenty of praise and treats to reward your dog for the experience.


Final Thoughts: Avoid Long Dog Nails With Routine

To hammer home the point, routine is key for grooming your dog’s nails regularly with minimal fuss. Checking your dog’s nails is never wasted time. When you need to clip or grind the nails to the perfect length, it’s better to have a relaxed dog that is happy for their paws to be handled.

For a detailed step by step guide on how to grind or clip your dog’s nails, check out this detailed article.

FAQ

Is it bad to cut your dog’s nails?

There is no evidence to suggest that cutting your dog’s nails is bad for them. A naturally active dog will have shorter nails because of the impact against rough terrain. This is how wild dogs don’t have uncontrollable nail growth. But our domesticated dogs are far more sedentary than wild dogs. Add to that that dogs tend to be most active on softer ground in Australia like the beach or a grassy park. Therefore, your dog’s nails aren’t being filed down enough by regular activity.

Vets recommend that you cut or grind your dog’s nails whenever the job needs to be done. Don’t rely on the ground to do the grooming for you.

What happens if you don’t trim your dog’s nails?

If you don’t regularly trim your dog’s nails, your dog will be far more prone to nail injuries. It can be very ugly if your dog’s nail rips or splinters due to snags. Extra-long nails also feel incredibly uncomfortable for your dog. They could end up limping or tip-toeing because of the discomfort. Grooming your dog’s nails helps prevent these potential issues.

References

  1. Price, T. September 16, 2020. “7 Ways to Tell Your Dog’s Nails Are Too Long”. Great Pet Care.  Retrieved January 11, 2022. https://www.greatpetcare.com/wellness/7-ways-to-tell-your-dogs-nails-are-too-long/
  2. Nicholas, J. September 21, 2020. “How Often Should You Cut Your Dog's Nails?”. Preventive Vet.  Retrieved January 11, 2022. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-often-should-you-cut-your-dogs-nails
  3. Jackson, S. February 14, 2020. “How to Take the Stress Out of Grooming Your Dog's Paws”. Pet Helpful. Retrieved January 11, 2022. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-to-Take-the-Stress-Out-of-Grooming-Your-Dogs-Paws
Olivia De Santos

Olivia is a professional writer and animal lover. She loves spending time with her Podengo and Flat Coated Retriever, and writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners

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