guide on how often to trim dog nails

How Often to Trim Dog Nails?

Trimming your dog’s nails is sometimes a grooming step that dog owners forget. Unfortunately, dog nail trimming is something that cannot be overlooked, because the downsides include pain and infection if the situation gets serious enough.

Knowing to do it and doing it often enough are two different things. Just how often should you trim your dog’s nails and why is it so important?

Let’s find out.

Why Is It Important to Trim Dog Nails?

clean and maintained dog's nail
Photo by Igor Bumba on Unsplash

Imagine growing your nails out to uncomfortable lengths. Not only is it easy to get your nails caught on things but you may also risk hurting others or yourself with those sharp objects. Rather than living with 10 weapons on the ends of our fingers, most of us elect to cut them when they get to a certain length. The same goes for a dog’s nails.

When a dog’s nails get too long, they could cause mobility issues which could lead to developmental issues and posture problems. You may also see ingrown nails, split nails, and splintered ones that eventually lead to infections.

It’s very easy to get paw wounds infected because of their close proximity to the ground. Since your dogs walk around on all-fours every day, nail-related injuries also take much longer to heal.

The simple act of trimming your dog’s nails regularly will alleviate many of the symptoms and issues that may present themselves with long dog nails.

We Think You’ll Like It: At-Home Guide to Trimming Dog Nails

How to Know When to Trim Dog Nails?

Close up view of tan dog during nails trimming time
Image by Lydia Torrey from Unsplash

So, you have resolved to trim your dog’s nails, but how often should you do it? The answer is different for every dog. Canine nails grow at different paces, so dog nail trimming frequency will vary.

A good rule of thumb is to get the nail clippers out when you hear the clickety-clacking of long nails on the ground. Whether this is every few days, once a week, or more, that familiar sound will remind you to cut your dog’s nails.

Overgrown long nails can be difficult to gauge if you have carpet at home. This is why we suggest monitoring your dog’s nail growth constantly. When you see it touch the ground is when your dog needs a nail trim.

How Often Should I Trim My Dog’s Nails?

how often should i cut my dog's nails
Image by alektas on Pixabay

As said, there is no sure answer for how often you should trim your dog’s nails. What we do know is that a dog’s nails will continue to grow if they are not trimmed. When they start to touch the ground, they can curl outward, inward, or bend, and that’s when problems start to manifest.

The general rule of thumb is to cut your dog’s nails when they touch the ground, but how often is that?

There is a key factor that can prolong the period between each dog nail trimming session, and it is how often your dog walks on hard and textured surfaces such as concrete.

Taking your dog for a walk regularly can actually wear down the nails and keep them maintained at an optimal length. Taking a good long walk after a nail trimming session is also helpful to buff and round out the tips that are very sharp after trim.

Get The Gear: What You Need For Dog Nail Cutting

Many dog parents leave the dog grooming to the professionals, which we can completely understand. However, not everyone has the time to drop their pooches off at the groomer’s every few days even every week, so self-maintenance on your dog is necessary.

Before you can start the nail trimming, you have to get the gear.

Dog nail clippers

dog nail clippers
Image by alektas on Pixabay

There are two main types of tools you can use – nail clippers and nail grinders. Nail clippers are what we traditionally see when dogs get their nails trimmed. They can be in the same of scissors and operate the same way. Scissor clippers are intuitive to use, but it does take some time to train your dog to accept it, and it takes precision.

The other type of dog nail clippers are guillotine style clippers, which operate like the late 1700 to 1800 tool for beheading, except you will be “beheading” the tips of your dog nails instead of someone’s noggin.

Pet parents would press down on a lever that lowers a blade to trim your dog’s long nails. Whichever type of clipper you use, you will have to be careful to aim right and not cut the quick.


  • They get the job done quick
  • They are quiet
  • They’re not expensive to replace
  • No power source is necessary
  • Easily portable


  • It’s easy to cut your dog’s quick
  • The pressure may cause your dog’s nail to crack, break or splinter

Dog nail grinders

dog nail  and clippers
Image by Goochie Poochie Grooming from Pexels

For pet parents who are hesitant about their skills, dog nail grinders are an excellent alternative. Instead of identifying a cut line and snipping off a chunk of your dog’s long nails, the grinder uses a slower approach where it grinds away at the surface until you reach the optimal length (much like a nail file).

A nail grinder is a little faster than a dog nail file because it’s electrically powered and the rotary bit at the end spins at high speeds. For fur babies who detest the pressure of regular nail clipper blades when they get their nails trimmed, these grinders are a welcome alternative.


  • A great alternative for dogs who fear the clipper
  • The results are smooth without sharp edges
  • The better option for thick, hard and dark nails


  • More expensive
  • Needs to be near a power source or charged before use
  • Your dog may not like the sound of the motor
  • There may be a lot of dust
  • Bits need to be replaced from time to time

At a glance, the pros outweigh the cons for nail clippers and the reverse is true for dog nail grinders. However, we urge you not to look at the number of points but focus on what is important for your dog.

Yes, dog nail grinders are pricier, there are more steps to get them ready and components may need to be replaced. As if that wasn’t enough, grinding your dog’s nails will produce a lot of dust. There are so many cons, but the grinder will still be the better choice if your dog hates dog clippers and prefers grinders.

What to Do If You Cut the Quick Cut?

quick on dog's nails showing before cutting
Image by Victor Grabarczyk on Unsplash

The quick is the pink part in the center of your dog’s nail that consists of a nerve and blood vessel. You can easily spot it on dogs with clear nails, but it’s nearly impossible to spot on dark dog nails. To cut or trim dark nails, dog parents will have to do it little by little and monitor the center of the nail until they see a dark dot – that is the quick.

Accidents happen, and even though we hope it won’t happen, you may accidentally knick the quick, so what happens if you do?

First of all, don’t panic! It’s very easy to overreact especially when you know you have hurt your beloved fur baby. You must act fast and stop the bleeding with styptic powder. If you don’t have this on-hand, cornstarch, baking soda, or bar soap can work in a pinch.

Once the bleeding has stopped, give your dog a break, and don’t forget to comfort him! The pain of getting his nails clipped will be etched into your dog’s mind, so take a week or two before you try again, or try and use a different tool if your dog’s nails get too long during that time.

Proper nail trimming strategy

The proper strategy is to keep your dog in a relaxed state, in a safe but secure position, and aim well before you cut. How this is done will differ for each dog. We would suggest you trim your dog’s nails after bath time because the heat from the water tends to soften the nails, which makes them easier to cut.

We would also recommend having a bag of your dog’s favorite treats at the ready to reward him with after nail trims. You will be surprised what positive reinforcement can do for a dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when to trim my dog’s nails?

You know it’s time to trim your dog’s nails when you hear the clicking sound they make when they touch the ground, or when you notice the nails are grazing the surface of the floor. Not trimming dog nails when it’s appropriate could lead to ingrown nails, nail splitting, splayed feet, and posture problems to name a few.

How often can you cut long dog nails?

We would say cutting long dog nails weekly is a good estimate, but there really is no rule as to how often you can cut them, just not to let them touch the ground. The quick will grow longer without regular maintenance, which means you will find your dog needing nail trims more often than before.

Can I cut my dog’s nails once a week?

Yes, you can cut your dog’s nails once a week. In fact, weekly maintenance is recommended. We caution pet parents not to overdo it because dog nails do have a utility purpose. Your dog needs his nails to dig, grip, and for added traction. You don’t have to cut right up to the quick, we would say leaving a few millimeters of the nail is sufficient.

How do I know if my dog’s nails are too long?

You will know your dog’s nails are too long when they start to touch the ground. If they are allowed to get any longer, the nails could start to bend, curve inward or outward, or even break.

Nail injuries on dogs take longer to heal since their paws come into contact with the ground every day, which doesn’t give the wound time to recover. It’s for this reason that we suggest avoiding nail-related injuries altogether with regular nail trims.


The short answer to the big question today is to cut dog nails every week. This is a general recommendation as some dogs may need their nails cut every few days while others just need them trimmed with each dog grooming session.

Your dog’s lifestyle has a great effect on how often his nails need to be cut, so regular monitoring is the best way to determine when is the best time.

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