How Do I Know if My Dog's Toes Need to Be Trimmed?

Trim your dog's toenails every two weeks.
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Whether dogs like it or not, they need their toenails cut regularly. Dog nails allowed to grow long may become ingrown or torn, and long dewclaws can pierce dogs' feet. Dogs with long toenails struggle to walk on slippery floors and easily damage fabric and other soft items. While you can choose to have a vet or groomer trim your dog's nails, your dog may not visit these professionals sufficiently frequently for healthy food care. A better option is to learn to recognize when it is time to do it yourself.

Step 1

Look at your dog's paws while he or she is standing. If the toenails touch the floor, they need to be trimmed.

Step 2

Listen as your dog walks across a hard surface. If you hear the nails clicking on the floor, they need to be cut.

Step 3

Examine your dog's paws every few weeks. If the dog is very active, the nails may wear down on their own, but they also may split or tear. Trim or file damaged nails to ensure that the splits do not worsen.

Step 4

Keep track of the time since your dog's last trim. A puppy needs toenails cut once a week, and older dogs need them cut once every two weeks.

Step 5

Trim your dog's dewclaws at the same time as you trim the other toenails, if they were not removed when he or she was a puppy. The dewclaws are located just above the dog's paws on the inside of the legs, and they do not reach the floor, so you will never hear them clicking. Remember to cut them with the other nails.


  • Trim your dog's toenails carefully and slowly, removing only the tips. Dogs have living tissue inside their nails called the quick, which may or may not be visible depending on the dog's color. If you cut the quick, it bleeds heavily and is painful for the dog.