Dog toenails grow like human finger and toenails. The ends of the toenails are dead tissue and the quick of the nail contains the blood supply. The trick of nail clipping is to trim off as much of the dead tissue as possible without cutting the sensitive live tissue of the quick.

Sometimes dogs will file their nails down just by running on concrete. But most dogs should have them clipped every two or three weeks. Nails that are too long can scratch your bare skin, distort the way your dog stands and even interfere with his gait.

If you accustom your puppy to having his feet handled, you won't have problems with clipping his nails as an adult. Teach him to sit and to hand you his paw while clipping each nail.

Adult dogs that are unused to having their feet handled may wiggle too much and can increase the risk of mishaps. For some adult dogs, however, it is better to make a nail clipping appointment with your vet rather than wear yourself out or risk hurting him.

Clip your dog's nails under good lighting. If the nails are white or light colored, the darker area of the quick is unmistakable. However, many dogs have dark nails and the quick is not visible. In this case, clip only the ends of the nails. You may have to cut them more frequently to achieve a proper length.

Remember clipping the nail of the dewclaws (if your dog has not had them removed as a puppy), the fifth nail on the upper inside of his ankle. Most dogs have dewclaws only on the front feet, but some have them on all four feet. After clipping them, filing the nails with a human or dog nail file helps to smooth the sharp edges.

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