Dog nail care recommendations from vet

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Dog nail care

If you’re new to the world of pet parenting, you may be wondering which hygiene and care tasks you can take on at home, and when your pup will need to see a veterinarian. Caring for your four-legged friend’s nails is one such task, and you’ll likely benefit from reading a bit more into it. 

So in this article, we’ll explain dog nail care recommendations from a veterinarian by answering the following questions:

  • How do I maintain my dog’s nails?
  • What are the ideal nails for a dog?
  • Should I take the dog to the vet for nail trimming?
  • How often should dogs’ nails be trimmed?
  • How to use dog nail clippers?

Disclaimer: Please refer to the information in this article as a guide only. If you want more information about how best to care for your dog’s nails, contact your veterinarian.

How do I maintain my dog’s nails?

Maintaining your dog’s nails isn’t difficult and doesn’t require lots of time, effort or money, especially compared to some of the other aspects of having a dog! 

Maintaining your dog’s nails consists of:

  • Check them regularly – to see how long they are and if there are any splits or cracks. It’s better to do little and often, rather than waiting until they are extremely long. 
  • Trim them if necessary – either at home or ask your groomer or vet to do it.
  • Regular exercise – this helps keep their nails in good condition by wearing them down.  If your pet is less active, it likely means you’ll need to trim their nails more frequently.
  • Complete and balanced dog food – containing all the nutrients your pet needs to keep every aspect of their body (including their nails) healthy.

What are the ideal nails for a dog?

When your dog is standing up, ideally their nails should not touch the ground. Although the sound the nails make as your pet walks around is pretty endearing, it’s not benefiting them, and may even pose extra risks. 

You’ll also want to check the length of your dog’s dew claws, on the front and back (if they have them). If they are too long, they may start to curl inwards, can be uncomfortable for your pet and are at increased risk of becoming pulled off by accident.

Should I take the dog to the vet for a nail trim?

Whether you should take your dog to the vet for a nail trim (if they need it), depends on your dog’s character, and whether you feel comfortable trimming their nails at home. As we mentioned earlier, the ideal nails for a dog are long enough just to cover their toes, but not constantly touch the ground.

If your dog will let you, and you are sure you know how to do it correctly, there’s no reason why you can’t trim their nails at home if needed. 

If you want to trim your dog’s nails but have never done it before, the best thing to do is get your veterinarian to show you during your next trip to the clinic. You’ll also want to buy some specially designed dog nail clippers. 

How often should dogs’ nails be trimmed?

How often your dog’s nails need to be trimmed depends on the rate they grow, and how quickly they wear away. Usually, dogs naturally wear down their nails when walking around. If your dog is less active (for example, a senior or disabled dog), or their nails grow particularly fast, then you might want to think about trimming them.

So long as your dog’s nails aren’t so long that they grow back into themselves, long nails aren’t a major problem. That being said, the main risk if your dog has particularly long nails, is that they are more likely to pull or catch them on things. 

How to use dog nail clippers?

Before you attempt to cut your dog’s nails, you’ll want to get the hang of the clippers first.  This means, holding them correctly, and opening and closing them. It’s also a good idea to show the clippers to your pet, and even practice taking and holding their paw (giving them plenty of treats and reassurance in the meantime).

When you and your pet are ready, lift and hold their paw so you can see from underneath. Then gently expose your pet’s toe and nail. If your pet has light-colored nails, you’ll be able to see a pink area (called the ‘quick’). Gently and carefully, trim up to (but not including) this area. 

If your dog has dark-colored nails, then you won’t be able to see them quickly. This means you’ll just cut small amounts until you think it’s short enough or until you see the color of the inside part of the nail become pink (this means you’re at the quick).

You can read more about this topic in our articles How to Trim Dog Nails and Wagging Tails and Clean Nails – A Nail Trimming Guide for Dogs.


We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, and that it’s given you all the information you need to keep your four-legged friend’s nails in tip-top condition.

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