Posted by Pet Honesty on

Advice From Dr. Lindsey: Trimming Your Dog's Nails

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Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM

It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to not want their nails trimmed. There are some things that we as owners can do to make it less traumatic for them and some may even eventually enjoy getting their nails trimmed. Most dogs should get their nails trimmed about once a month. However, a dog that walks on pavement frequently may wear their nails down more and may not need as frequent of nail trims.  If you notice your dog’s nails “clicking” on the floors that means their nails are too long.

There are different types of nail trimmers and nail grinders. It’s important to figure out which type suits your dog the best. Some dogs don’t like the click and pinch of the nail trimmers but do fine with the grinders. Other dogs hate the noise of the grinders but do just fine with the click of the trimmers. There are many videos on the internet that show how to trim the nails. I find it best for large dogs to have someone help hold them so they don’t wiggle so much. For smaller dogs and cats, they sometimes do better just sitting on my lap for nail trims. Also, don’t forget to trim the smaller dewclaws if your dog has them. Since the dewclaws don’t get any wear from walking on the ground, they become overgrown quicker and can curl around and dig into the skin causing problems. 

As with the training for many things with dogs, it’s best to start at a young age if possible to train them and build up their tolerance for nail trims. With puppies, make sure to play with their feet and nails daily. Because puppies have a short attention span, owners may only be able to trim a couple toes or maybe one foot a day. Use positive reinforcement such as a special treat to give during the nail trimming. Many dog owners seem to like using a small amount of peanut butter (no xylitol) smeared on a wall to help distract and keep their dog from wiggling during nail trims. Eventually, the owner should be able to trim all the dog’s toe nails in one sitting.


Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.