I’m never quite sure how often my dog’s nails should be cut, if at all. What do you think?

Graham Finch advises…

We get a lot of people coming in and asking for nails to be cut, some of which definitely require a trim while others are fine. I tend to base my decision primarily on length and shape of the nail, but perhaps less obviously, the colour of the nail too. Dogs’ nails are growing constantly, if slowly, and if the rate of wear does not match the growth, then the nails will start to curl and ultimately can grow right round into the pad.

My rule of thumb is that, as long as the nails are sitting nicely flat with the ground, they are OK. If there is a hint of curl, then out come the clippers. While most of the nail is made up of dead protein, the central region contains the blood vessels and nerves that supply the live portion of the structure. If the nail is black, or opaque, then we end up having to make an intelligent guess as to where the blood vessels end. I suspect all of us vets have accidentally made a nail bleed at one time or another and they bleed a lot!

I guess the final factor is temperament, as most dogs just hate having their paws restrained, so while this always sounds such a simple task, the reality is sometimes different and in extreme cases may even require sedation.


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