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5 common signs you need to cut your pet's nails

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There are several ways you'll know it's time to clip your pet's nails, and after a few months, you'll be able to establish a schedule based on how quickly they grow.

Cutting your pet's nails is likely one of your most dreaded chores, with all the squirming, whining, and fear of hurting your beloved animal. No matter how much you want to avoid the chore, it needs to be done to maintain your pet's health and comfort. Nails that are too long can put your pet at risk of infection, splayed or deformed paws, poor traction, and tendon damage.

There are several ways you'll know it's time to clip your pet's nails, and after a few months, you'll be able to establish a schedule based on how quickly they grow.

  1. The nails look long. Your pet's nails consist of the pink quick and an outer shell. Over time, the shell will grow longer and start to curve. You never want to cut the quick because this will hurt your pet and cause bleeding. However, the longer the shell looks, the more urgent it is for you to cut the nail.
  2. You hear clicking on the floor. After you cut your pet's nails, you may notice that they can sneak up on you because their nails don't touch the ground. A freshly cut nail barely grazes hard surfaces when your pet walks, which means you won't hear it as much as if your pet's nails are curved and long.
  3. They're scratching you or furniture. Pets that love to jump and dig absolutely cannot have long nails. Otherwise, your legs, clothes, and furniture are going to pay for it.
  4. You notice dirt underneath the nail. Even if you shave your pet's nails perfectly, they will eventually grow back again and become jagged as they touch the ground. Dirt and other debris can get stuck in the jagged edges of the shell. You may notice this when you cuddle with your pet or when you look down at the tracks they've made on your floor.
  5. Your pet is licking excessively or walking awkwardly. At this point, you've crossed the line between needing a groomer and needing a veterinarian. Pets will try to lick their wounds and clean themselves with their tongue, which makes paw-licking a sign that your pet feels dirty or injured. If you neglect nail-clipping enough, you could be dealing with an infection or tendon damage.

To make the chore a little easier, try letting your pet sniff the clippers, give your pet a treat after each paw or nail is done, and clip your pet's nails when they are tired. Some pets respond well to being leashed to a rack above their head, forcing them to look straight ahead. If those tips don't work, a grooming professional can do it for you.

Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.