Should a Dog's Toenails Be Trimmed Regularly?

Make nail trimming a positive process for your dog.
Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

You'll want to include nail trimming in your dog's regular grooming routine. Long nails can cause pain when walking, even skeletal damage in severe cases. They can break and become infected, causing further discomfort to your dog. Seek veterinarian assistance at the first sign of redness, swelling or any unusual appearance of your dog's nails or nail bed.

Naturally Worn Down

Dogs nails become worn down naturally by the constant contact with cement sidewalks, wooden decks and floors, tiles and outdoor activity. That doesn't mean it is done equally or on each individual nail. One side of the nail may be affected more than the other, depending on the placement of your dog's paw on the floor and the length of each individual nail. One nail may grow longer than the other due to lack of contact with surfaces. Keeping your dog's nails trimmed on a regular basis, every four to six weeks, is recommended.

Prevent Injury to Paws

Dogs nails grow out and curve as they grow longer. An unattended nail can grow in a circular shape and eventually grow long enough that the nail is under the paw. With each step, your dog will feel pain caused by the nail poking into his paw pad. In addition, if the nail has a sharp point, it can cause injury, bleeding and infection to your dog's paw. That infection ultimately can get into his bloodstream spreading the infection. Regular trimming reduces the possibilities of infection and injury.

Fifth Toe Dewclaws

Some dogs are born with dewclaws, which are located on the side of the foot. Some breeders have the dewclaws removed after birth. Dewclaws rarely contact the ground, causing the nail to grow long, sometimes long enough to puncture the skin. You'll want to check your dog's feet for dewclaws and provide regular trimming to keep them maintained.

DIY or Choose a Groomer

You'll want to decide if you are going to provide the nail trimming routine to your pup at home or if you would prefer a professional to do it. Groomers and veterinarian offices will provide this service for a fee. Either way, you will want your pup to get used to the feeling of having his paws handled. This will reduce stress during the nail trimming process. Make a habit of gently touching or holding your dog's paws to prepare him for having his nails trimmed on a regular basis.