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How To Trim Dog Nails That Are Overgrown the Right Way!

how to trim dog nails that are overgrown

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Dogs’ paws are almost like a logo for dogs. Those five pads are synonymous with all the loyalty and joy that dogs are known for. Though, at some point, you’ve probably wondered how to trim dog nails that are overgrown.


Dogs aren’t just four-legged animals chasing their tails. They are living creatures that need to stay in tip-top shape. Having a dog is fun, but we are responsible for our furry friend’s health and happiness. When we take care of them, they take care of us!



Why Do You Need to Trim Your Dog’s Overgrown Nails?

Dogs rely on their bodies’ movements even more than humans do (not having technology or cars must be ruff). Overgrown nails can limit even the most simple tasks. Similar to an ingrown nail on humans, overgrown nails on dog paws are uncomfortable. Trimming overgrown dog nails keeps your dog’s paws pain-free.


Neglecting a dog’s overgrown nails can lead to infection and significantly affect walks and runs. An overgrown nail can break or tear completely off a dog’s paw, which is extremely painful for your pet and could become infected. Overgrown nails can attract fungi and other harmful bacteria, possibly leading to complicated health issues or expensive vet visits.


If a dog has long nails, it can cause issues for you as well. Long nails may scratch or cut on the skin. For dog owners with children in the house, this is an especially critical concern.


As the nail continues to grow and curl, a dog has increased difficulty moving around. According to the American Kennel Club, “as the long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts force on the foot and leg structure.” Dogs with overgrown nails struggle with discomfort. They can experience health issues with their overall posture, joint mobility, and tendons.


Dogs dealing with overgrown nail discomfort can become irritable and display other behavior issues as it deals with the pain. They are more likely to scratch up furniture and other surfaces in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.


Overgrown dog nails can cause inflammation to the paws, which may cause a limp. Long-term neglect of overgrown nails can cause irreversible deformities to your dog’s paw and leg anatomy.



clipping brown fluffy dogs nails



Is It Common for Dogs Nails to Overgrow?

Dog nails, similar to human nails, continue to grow non-stop. Overgrown nails are one of the most common issues with dogs.


Even as loving dog owners, it’s easy for us to get caught up in daily activities and stresses. Busy work schedules and/or full-time parenting can make it challenging to fit dog nail trimming into a monthly plan. Though, this is how our pooch’s nails can become overgrown.


Different dog breeds are bigger than others, which means their paws and nails differ in size, too. Each dog’s nails grow differently than others. Some dogs require weekly to monthly nail clippings. Other breeds, such as farm dogs, may not need clippings if they wear down their nails with typical daily activities.


Every pup is unique, so it’s vital that you pay attention to your canine companion. But how can you tell when your pet’s nails are too long? There are several methods.



How Can I Tell If My Dog’s Nails Are Too Long?

There are many ways to determine whether your dog’s nails are too long. Although it can be tricky at first, especially for first-time dog owners, there are a few ways to tell that your dog’s nails are overgrown.


  • Nail extends beyond paw: As nails get longer, they curl and grow past the paw. Place your dog’s paw flat on your hand. If the first thing you feel is a nail, then it is too long.
  • Tap sound is heard when the dog is walking: Each time your dog walks, you hear a clicking noise at each step. Some floor surfaces like hardwood make it easier to hear the sound.
  • Scratched surfaces or skin: Overgrown dog nails are more likely to scratch you when they run toward your lap. If a pooch gets frustrated with its own nails, it may scratch up a couch or dig up more holes than usual to manually trim them down.
  • Limping: If you notice your dog limping, it can be related to various types of injuries. One potential injury is overgrown nails damaging the foot or leg. A dog with overgrown nails might limp due to the discomfort.
  • Whining: Some dogs might cry if they feel too uncomfortable with their long nails.


Related: How to Stop Dog Barking When Left Alone [CBD Can Help]


Paw-licking: Dogs feeling an ache or pain in their nails might lick their paws. A dog with intolerable nail lengths will lick its paws more than usual. If you see your dog continuously lick its paws, it could be a sign of pain associated with overgrown nails.



What Happens if You Let Dog Nails Overgrow?

A dog may develop painful injuries if overgrown nails are left unattended. Trips to the vet can be expensive if a dog’s nail length grows into a wound requiring treatment. However, these pricey trips are necessary because the issue will cause unbearable pain to your dog’s feet. Trimming your dog’s nails can save your pet from pain, but it can also save you money.


A long nail is more likely to get caught on a carpet or other surfaces. It can even split or completely break off, causing your dog’s paw to bleed. If the wound is not attended to, it will attract bacteria that can further cause harm to your dog.


Infection from overgrown nails can lead to onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that causes inflammation, nail discoloration, or makes the nail fall off. Anti-bacterial medicine from a vet can help, but it is expensive.


Dogs can potentially develop arthritis in their feet and legs due to the effect of long-term overgrown nail neglect. This can severely hinder your dog’s movement, causing it to be less active and playful.


Dog nails contain a collection of the nerves and blood vessels in the nail’s center called the “quick.” The quick extends as the nail grows. If a nail is trimmed too deep, you can potentially clip the quick and cause it to bleed.



What Do I Need to Trim Dog Nails That Are Overgrown?

The first step in trimming your dog’s overgrown nail is making sure you have the right tools. Using the appropriate tool will make trimming your dog’s nails a much easier process.


  • Nail Clippers: Don’t worry about sharing your toenail clipper with your dog. Dog nail clippers are easily found at pet stores or online. Nail clippers come available in guillotine or scissor style and are easy for any beginning nail trimmer to use.
  • Treats: Your dog will be more willing to cooperate with the nail trimming process if you reward it with treats. Eventually, your pup may associate nail trimming with treats, making it easy for your furry friend to stay calm. Consider giving your dog CBD-infused dog treats from HolistaPet to help it remain relaxed during nail trims.


Related: How to Calm an Overexcited Dog NOW Using These 7 Simple Techniques 


  • Styptic Powder: This is another must-have for any dog owner, especially if you are trimming their nails for the first time. This remarkable powder comes in handy to stop bleeding if you accidentally clip your dog’s quick.
  • Small Flashlight: Not all dogs have clear nails. Some have black or colored nails, which makes it challenging to find the quick. Flashing light on the nail can help locate the quick.
  • Nail Grinder: Groomers use nail filers to smooth out a nail after it’s been cut. Give your pup the full doggy-spa experience with a nail filing after clipping.
  • Patience: This is key. Dogs aren’t likely going to lay on their sides and let you cut their nails. Take your time and give yourself a little treat afterward for a job well done. Your pooch may give you a hard time during the entire trimming, but you can rest easy knowing you’re looking after its health.



How to Trim Dog Nails That Are Overgrown

Trimming your dog’s nails can be achieved with just a couple of steps. It is essential to remain patient and reward your dog throughout the process.


  1. Before you trim your dog’s nails, make sure they feel comfortable with you grabbing their paws. It’s normal for some dogs, especially adopted ones, to be scared. Ease your dog into the habit of nail trimming by massaging its paws, and it will let you hold them without fear.
  2. Introduce your dog to the clippers. Take out the nail clippers and allow your dog to smell them. Give it a treat so it will associate the clippers with snacks.
  3. Find a comfortable position based on your dog’s size. Some might feel more comfortable laying on your lap, while other dogs feel better if held by a second person.
  4. Identify the quick. The quick is lighter in color and pink. You are less likely to cut the quick and cause pain if you know where it is. Have styptic powder handy in case you accidentally cut the dog’s nail too short.
  5. Cut the nail at an angle. While holding your dog’s paw, slowly cut the tip of the nail at a 45-degree angle. Trim their nails less than an inch at a time until you reach the quick, then move to the next nail.
  6. Repeat the process on each nail a little at a time until they are all trimmed. Reward your dog after each nail clipping as a way to thank them for cooperating.
  7. Make it a habit. If you’re calm, confident, and rewarding, your dog may start to look forward to each trim. This will make it easier for you to keep its nails short. It also helps the quick recede to appropriate levels if it has been left overgrown for too long.



shiva inu at the groomer



What To Do if Your Dog Hates Nail Trims

Some dogs will cooperate much better than other dogs. It’s normal for your furry friend to hate nail trims at first. One of the best things to help alleviate that fear is treats.


Dogs love treats; that is a fact. Consider giving your dog its favorite treat or bone to chew on when starting. Including treats and complimenting your dog during each step of the process helps them feel at ease.


One of the best snacks to give your dog is CBD treats. These come with the added benefit of CBD, which is an all-natural, soothing, and beneficial compound derived from hemp plants. It is non-toxic and non-psychoactive, meaning your dog won’t get high.


Related: Can Dogs Get High from CBD? Potential Side Effects of CBD for Dogs


Instead, your canine companion will receive a boost to its mood and overall wellness. CBD works by targeting the receptors in your dog’s body. This process can help in mitigating stress and promoting healthier fur and nails.



Can I File My Dog’s Nails Instead of Clipping?

Yes, you can! Nail files for dogs are another popular trimming method. Some dog grooming services even prefer them over nail clippers. Filing nails can leave them feeling smoother than if you were to cut them with a clipper.


Electronic nail grinders can also keep nails trimmed to an appropriate length. Make sure to file them bit by bit to avoid rupturing the quick and cause bleeding.


Keep in mind that some dogs might get scared from the noise of an electronic filer. Remember to ease your dog into it by giving them treats and plenty of petting. If your dog doesn’t get used to the noise, consider a manual file or clippers.



Final Thoughts

Owning a dog is a big responsibility but is also very beneficial. A dog in the home will continuously provide laughter and fun memories for you and your family. Dog’s are known for being “man’s best friend.”


Dog lovers and owners alike should do everything they can to keep their pets healthy. This includes keeping them from developing overgrown nails. With a few steps and plenty of love and care, you will be able to trim your dog’s nails without any issues. Reward your dog with the best treats possible, but also reward yourself for giving your dog the best manicure ever!

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