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Start Trimming Puppy’s Nails Now

Don't trim the puppy's nail too short or risk cutting into the sensitive "quick."

Q. When should I begin to trim my Labrador Retriever puppy’s nails. He is 9 weeks old, and they seem to be getting long. Also, how much should I trim off?

A. You can start trimming your Lab’s nails right away. One of the biggest mistakes dog owners make is trimming nails too short, risking cutting into the highly sensitive “quick” (the vein that runs through the nail). Imagine cutting into the nail bed underneath your fingernails.
 
Once a dog has been “quicked,” he or she will probably never sit still for a nail trim, and may fight it enthusiastically.
 
The proper way to trim a dog’s nails is to cut them level with the bottom of the foot pads. Do not be tempted to cut them shorter, even if you can do so.
 
The best way to maintain the proper nail length in dogs is to walk them on concrete or other hard, abrasive surface, several times a day. The more you can walk them on the sidewalk, the less you have to trim their nails.
 
My Lab Raindog has never had her nails trimmed because she gets a twice-daily walk. The rest of the time she mostly naps, chases a ball in the park, or watches other dogs out the window.
 
Use a high-quality dog nail trimmer, and don’t trim too much off. If your dog has black nails, you may not be able to see the pink quick underneath the claws. Sometimes you have to take small bites if you have let the nails grow too long.
 
Reward him when you are done if he is a good boy.

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