Proper nail maintenance is an important part of dog health, as the paw’s power comes from the nail. The do-it-yourself approach to trimming dog nails can be done, but it does come with risk, which is why many dog owners prefer to have it done by a professional. This spring, Springtime wants all paws to look their best and all dogs to feel their best, so we discuss the importance of nail maintenance and the proper trimming process.
It’s no fun, but it has to be done
Although some dogs wear down their nails naturally, it is important to frequently check if your pup is in need of a proper pedicure. Depending on the breed and size of your dog, you’ll need to clip their nails anywhere from monthly to weekly. Proper nail maintenance directly benefits a dog’s posture. A dog is programmed so that when overgrown nails reach the ground, the body is tricked into thinking it’s going uphill, so the dog will reflexively transfer its weight to its hind legs and arch its back. Dogs with overly long nails will maintain this posture, which eventually contributes to a painful and over-used hind end. Regular nail trimming prevents arthritis and mobility issues in the long term
For our furry friends, their instinct is to severely dislike nail trimming. This is understandable, after all. They’re being restrained, they have to have their toes pulled and poked at, and the clipper sound and feeling is foreign to them. You don’t want to be too pushy with a nail trim, especially if they’ve previously had an accidental nick of the “quick” in their nail (the core tissue with sensitive nerves and blood vessels). If you start regular trimming when the dog is young, you can build trust to make the process go a little more smoothly for both of you. Again, neither you nor your dog ever want to experience a “cut to the quick,” so you might want to consider leaving this maintenance to a groomer.
Here are five tips to pretty paws and a pleased pup:
1. Prep with patience
The more you ease a canine into this routine, the higher a chance they will comply. Start off with touching pencil erasers and other various objects to the nail, so they are used to the feeling of their nails being touched. Reward Rover with treats often (especially whenever you bring out the clippers) so that your dog can associate them with a good thing.
Before actually using the clippers, we suggest touching the nail with the clipper and slowly working up to getting your pup used to the sound and feel, so that the transition is as smooth as possible. Continue to praise him and give him treats, and when you feel they are ready for the paw-pedi, continue slowly and cautiously.
2. Hold the paw gently
Without squeezing the paw, use your fingers to separate the toes for clipping. To better expose the nails, remove excess toe hair with a pair of scissors. Use blunt-tipped scissors to prevent any accidents with a squirmy dog.
3. Clip to avoid the quick
If you use glasses for reading, you’ll use them for nail clipping too.
Never put the whole nail in a clipper. With multiple shallow cuts, clip the nail at a 40 degree angle. For lighter-colored nails, you can see the pink quick inside the hardened nail so that you can stay clear of it (about 2 millimeters away from the quick). Darker nails make avoiding the quick more difficult. As you slowly chip away at the hard nail, you will see a chalky ring around the sensitive quick, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. We suggest using small clippers, even for bigger dogs for better control. Only giant breed dogs will need larger ones. If your four-legged friend is still frustrated, do one or two nails and come back for the rest later. You can even do it over multiple days for less stress for you and the dog
If you do nip the quick, use cornstarch to stop the bleeding.
4. Floor-test check
When your pup’s pads are standing on a firm surface, the nails should not touch the ground, while still being long enough to provide traction when climbing a hill or digging.
Although dogs are extremely quick to adapt, we can’t expect our pets to be willing to participate in such an uncomfortable task without a LOT of rewards and praise. We recommend natural treats that provide healthy calories, such as these. To help grow strong, healthy nails, choose a natural supplement with kelp and biotin.
For a great video showing the trim of a darker-nail set, see Grooming By Rudy’s post:
“When Dog Nails Get Too Long” by Grooming By Rudy. Posted Jan 17, 2018
Watch more from Grooming By Rudy.
Listen to Rudy and Anthony’s Groomer Humor on PetLife Radio.
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