Sharon Keaton, co-owner of Shear Elegance Pet Boutique, suggest clipping a dog's nails at least once a month. 

FRONT ROYAL – When taking care of a dog, one of the most important tasks is to make sure your pets have their nails clipped.

“Their nails grow like our fingernails grow,” said Sharon Keaton, co-owner of the Shear Elegance Pet Boutique in Front Royal. “If you don’t keep them trimmed, they will grow too long and have trouble walking.”

Keaton said that owners need to have their dogs’ nails clipped at least once a month. She said it could be dangerous to let a dog’s nails grow too long.

“They’ll curl back into the padding [of their feet] and cause an infection,” she said. “It’s really uncomfortable for the dogs. Not to mention they can scratch you if the nails are too long.”

Keaton said that her method for clipping dogs’ nails begins with filing the nails so the dog won’t scratch you. Keaton said that she uses scissor-style clippers on the dogs she works with, instead of the “guillotine” clippers.

“The guillotine-style trimmers tend to crush the nail instead of clipping it,” she said.

For pet owners who would like to trim their dogs’ nails, Keaton recommended asking a veterinarian or a groomer how to trim the nails before attempting the task themselves.

“I have no problem with showing people how to do it themselves,” she said. “A lot of times, though, dogs will behave better for strangers, than they will at home. If you take them into their own territory at home, the dog is thinking 'Why on earth are you doing this to me? This is my house.' Whereas here, they’re thinking [the groomer] will turn into a big, green monster, so I better behave.”

Keaton said that when trimming a dog’s nails, white nails are the easiest to trim. She said the white nails make it easier to see the vein, which is a pinkish color. Keaton said to clip in front of that vein when clipping a nail.

“As long as you have not accidentally cut the vein, you can use the file on the nail,” she said. “If you accidentally cut the vein, it’s not the end of the world. You can use styptic powder on it to stop the bleeding, and you’ll be good to go.”

Keaton said for those pet owners who don’t want to clip their dogs’ nails on their own, they may take their dogs to a groomer or to a veterinarian, though she said it may be more expensive having a vet do it over a groomer.

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