Regular nail maintenance and trimming is an important part of your dog’s overall health. Very long nails can become overgrown and grow into the footpad, causing pain and possible infection, and broken nails can also be painful and susceptible to infection.
The anatomy of the dog nail consists of what is called the “quick,” which is covered with an outer material called the “shell.” The quick is responsible for providing blood flow to the nail and runs through the inside, or core of the nail. Nerves run through the quick, and if a nail is broken or cut too close, it can be painful and cause bleeding.
Regular and consistent nail trimming can help to shorten the quick, making it easier for you and your dog to maintain healthy nails.
Seven Reasons Why Trimming Your Dog’s Nails is Important
Whether you have a dog that can easily tolerate having their nails clipped, or you have a pet that is petrified of the process, keeping your dog’s claws a sensible length is very important to their health and wellbeing. Regular trimming can:
1. Prevent snagging on carpets and other floorings. This can result in breaking a nail and causing pain.
2. Prevent curling round and ingrowing. Very long nails have the capability of growing long and curling back onto the footpad, especially the dewclaws.
3. Prevent infection. Nails that are ingrown or broken set your dog up for a secondary infection.
4. Prevent splayed foot. This is where the nails get so long that they reduce traction and cause your dog to slip on certain surfaces.
5. Prevent deformed feet. Long nails can also cause undue strain on foot tendons over time, and as the long nails hit the ground, pressure puts force on the foot and leg structures.
6. Prevent broken nails. The longer the nails, the greater chance of your dog getting those nails caught on something and breaking them.
7. Prevent ingrown nails. Another drawback to long nails is the greater chance of developing ingrown toenails, especially the dewclaws. This is where the nails grow long and curve inward, potentially puncturing and growing into the footpad.
Most importantly, a dog’s nails are a part of their anatomy, and having nails that are too long can alter how your dog moves and carries themself. The altered position causes the bones in their feet to sit at a different angle, which in turn puts pressure on the joints. Over time, this can cause significant joint pain and lead to arthritis.
Changing the natural alignment of the joints can also make your dog much less steady on their feet. This means that they are far less likely to be able to catch himself from falling or landing well, increasing the probability of broken bones.
How Do I Trim My Dog’s Nails?
There are several types of dog nail trimmers, including scissors, grinder tools specifically designed for dogs, and guillotine types. You can use whatever type you are most comfortable with, or whatever works best for your dog.
- Nail trimmers – There are several items you should have in your grooming “toolbox” for your dog, such as nail trimmers. Most veterinarians don’t recommend the “guillotine” type trimmers as they tend to crush your dog’s nails, so it’s best to purchase a scissors-type nail trimmer.
- Kwik Stop/styptic powder – This is a yellow powder that is used to stop nail bleeding if you happen to cut your dog’s nails too short. Inside the nail of the dog is something called the “quick,” which is a path for vessels to carry blood to the nails.
What Are The Steps Involved to Trim my Dog’s Nails?
1. First, pick up your dog’s paw gently but firmly, place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way. If your dog doesn’t like you touching their feet, get them used to it first before you start the trimming process. You could do this at various times during the day by rubbing or gently squeezing their paws.
2. Second, while holding your pup’s foot, push your thumb gently up and backward on the footpad, while pushing your forefinger forward to extend the nail.
3. Third, start by clipping the very tip of the nail, cutting straight across. You can do this in small increments, shaving a little bit off at a time. If your dog has dewclaws, don’t forget to trim them as well, and they tend to curl back on themselves and grow into the pad.
4. Finally, try to avoid “cutting the quick,” making the nail bleed because it’s been trimmed too short. Many dogs who have pink nails make it easier for you to see the quick (it looks like a pink, or gray spot), but with dogs with dark nails, it’s more challenging.
For dogs with dark nails, trim a little bit at a time until you can see a black dot in the center of the nail: That means you are close to the quick. If you accidentally cut the quick and the nail starts to bleed, pat the area with a styptic powder or in a pinch, cornstarch.