Trimming your dog’s nails may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s actually essential to your dog’s overall health. Here’s why trimming your dog’s nails is important, and a few different ways that you can make the process easier on you both.
Why Dogs Need Their Nails Trimmed
Just like us, your dog’s nails continuously grow and require proper trimming on a monthly basis. In the wild, your dog would naturally wear down his nails by traveling and hunting over different terrain. That’s not the case with domesticated dogs, since we’ve greatly changed their environments. Since domesticated dogs’ nails are not worn down enough naturally to keep up with their growth, we need to closely inspect and trim their nails for them.
If left uncared for, your dog’s nails can grow too long. You’ll notice this if you can hear every footstep click loudly as he walks across a hardwood or tile floor. On carpeting, their snails may get snagged or caught up on the pile. Nails that are too long can break, chip and splinter among other painful conditions. Arthritis can set in over time, creating a painful condition that needs veterinary attention.
Dogs can easily tear their toenails when running or playing — especially outside where terrain and obstacles can become a hazardous venue for your dog’s long nails. Additionally, nails left too long can make standing and moving painful and awkward for your dog. In extreme situations, the nails can continue to grow until they twist or curl around and become embedded in the pads of your dog’s paws.
Nail Trimming Avoidance Through Exercise
Trimming a dog’s nails can be stressful, so many pet owners tend to avoid it by using a ‘natural’ approach. The most popular is through a variety of daily exercise. Some examples of these types of activities are daily walks, jogging and biking with your dog. Because these activities are generally on done on hard, porous materials such as pavement or concrete; the nails wear down gradually.
Nail trimming avoidance through exercise sounds like a banner idea initially, but don’t grab the leash just yet. While it’s true these activities can wear down your dog’s nails naturally providing great exercise and socialization for your dog, there are some hidden health risks which are often not discussed from the dangers of heat stroke to arthritis.
Paw pads can succumb to painful abrasions or blistering, nails can wear down too far exposing the quicks, and their joints can become inflamed after repetitive pounding on hard pavement. Keep in mind this type of vigorous exercise can prove disastrous for dogs that are either a senior, arthritic, and have cardiac or pulmonary conditions. With this type of approach, moderation and frequent wellness checks with your vet are key.
We have seen mention by various websites that using a canine agility course can provide sandpaper-like quality on equipment – claiming it is beneficial to sand down a dog’s nails. As a responsible provider of canine agility training, we strongly advise against this. Agility courses require that a dog’s nails be trimmed prior to participation due to the risk of nail injury during course navigation. Risks associated with long nails are:
Long nails can protrude over pads preventing their pads from gaining traction
Long nails can cause toes to be jammed or broken on slatted course equipment
When a dog attempts to grip with long nails, it puts unhealthy stress on nails and nail beds causing twisting and breakage
Different Trimming Methods
There are a variety of tools available to help you trim your dog’s nails. Traditional nail clippers come in a wide range of styles, so you can find the one that works best for you and your dog. When selecting a nail clipper, be sure to choose one only as big as needed – buying an oversized pair of nail clippers makes it more likely that you might slip and clip more than just the nail you had wanted to. Nail clippers have the ability to remove nail length quickly, but the drawback of removing too much too fast as well as twist or put pressure on the nail. For these reasons, many dogs fair better with a nail grinder.
Small pet nail grinders provide another option for trimming and maintaining your dog’s nails. The modestly-priced Dremel 7300-PT® comes in a rechargeable dual speed model to allow for fast and unobstructed nail trimming. Equipped with a grinding tool, a Dremel® can quickly and efficiently sand off some of your dog’s nail. This is advantageous because you can round and buff the edges of the nail for a softer finish, rather than dealing with the points that clippers sometimes leave behind.
Dremels® are paws down, the most favored trimming method for their ease and speed. Since scissors pressure is avoided as with nail clippers, painful and uncomfortable twisting of the nail is avoided. But it’s important to remember that you can over grind and expose your pup’s quick lickety split if you get carried away. So pay close attention. Avoid keeping the grinder wheel pressed against your dog’s nail for more than a few seconds as the nail will become hot and sensitive. Rather, take several short intervals on each nail and pay mind to how close you are getting to the quick.
The Nail Quick
Whichever method you use, be careful not to cut too much of your dog’s nail at a time. Dogs have quick in their nails, which contains blood vessels and nerves. The quick is sensitive and will bleed if cut. It can also be a bit tricky to see depending on the color of the dog’s nails. White nails are easiest to spot the quick while black nails are the most difficult.
Typically, you can spot the nail quick when looking from the side of the nail. It will appear as a slightly pink shadow inside the nail. Alternatively on black or dark colored nails, the quick will appear as a circular black spot in the center just past the nail pulp. Always begin by only cutting a very small amount of the nail at a tim_ e.
The rule of thumb is to remember before you settle in with your four-legged friend to trim up his or her nails, be sure to pick yourself up a container of Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder that will effectively be able to quickly stop bleeding in the event you accidentally clip the quick.
Trimming for Success
It’s important to introduce the process of trimming your dog’s nails as early on in his life as possible. Start by accustoming your dog to having his feet handled, and then gradually progress to handling just one paw pad and claw at a time. Make nail trimming a positive and enjoyable experience for your dog, and be sure to only hold nail trimming sessions during times when your dog is calm and focused. Give your dog treats whenever you expose him to the nail trimming process so that he associates nail trimming with a positive activity.
Trimming your dog’s nails is a task that you will have to do regularly throughout his life, so if your pet is proving challenging, consider enlisting professional dog training help to make the process easier on both of you. And, if you’ve never trimmed your dog’s nails before, ask a veterinarian or experienced dog person to show you how to do so safely the first time.
Leave It To The Pro’s
If trimming you feel uncomfortable trimming your pooches nails and prefer to leave grooming to the experts, then give Bed and Biscuit Austin a call. We offer affordable nail trimming services and luxury bathing to pamper your pet!