Getting to the point – how important is dog nail maintenance?

I have 3 terriers with complete black claws and anyone with dogs who also have black claws will understand why this makes clipping their claws such a task!

For anyone who doesn’t know a lot about dogs nails you have the outside nail and inside is the Quick, which grows inside the nail. When dogs catch their claws during activity or we trim their nails too short and see blood it’s the quick that is bleeding, not the actual nail.

White claws you can usually see the quick inside and can see where to avoid when clipping nails, black claws you cannot see the quick at all so it’s best to trim the smallest amount possible off the ends and do regularly which will help shorten the nails.

But why do we need to shorten our dogs nails you may ask? The longer a dogs’ nails are getting the harder it is to hold their foot flat on the ground or any surface they are on. This means they have to tilt the foot backwards which completely alters their overall posture, not just foot position, but legs, joints, back, hips etc all due to the nails being too long for the foot.

This in turn can lead to some dogs altering m their posture so much their body has to to change shape a little bit can be enough to affect how internal organs sit together, so this can put pressure on those organs also. So long nails can cause problems not just for nails and toes but the whole body inside and out.

Some does nails are soft enough to wear down during road walks, which is lucky for the owners, but this isn’t as common as many owners believe it to be! If you can hear your dogs nails ‘tick, tick, tick’ on the floor as they walk then they are technically too long.

How to clip the nails – well there are many methods and you do need to choose one that helps you best with your own dog.  There’s are many groomers who will trim nails for you, whether you have the rest of the fur groomed or not, and many vets will also small a small amount to trim nails.

However if you have dogs like terriers who have strong nails that don’t tend to wear down and grow fast and strong you may find that once every 1-2 months done by someone else isn’t enough to stop the nails getting too long.

If you want to do them yourself you have a choice of items – guillotine style nail cutters, scissor style nail cutters, Dremel and other makes of nail filing systems all work and you would need to have a try and see what can use and what your dog is happier with. Mine prefer scissor style clippers.

If your dog has tough nails try soaking your dogs feet in water first to soften them a little. You might want to try having your dog on your lap or standing on floor/grooming table, or even laying between your legs!

There’s a host of methods that can help different dogs with having nails trimmed, I could go through them which would make this a huge blog but then I still can’t advice what will suit different dogs from here!

I do recommend introducing methods slowly, praising for as much as possible and keeping sessions short for your dog. I also advise treating or rewarding with a high value reward – treat, toy, fuss etc. When clipping or dremelling take off tiny amounts – millimetres at a time in one session – and do regularly.

Once nails have been clipped you might want to look at filing them to keep short – as you can see in my photos my 3 queue up to have their nails filed!! Many methods for filing but again introduce your dog slowly and comfortably.

Worried about catching the quick? It’s a fair concern as it happens a lot, even for professionals! There are many products to help stop the bleeding and encourage healing like Trimmex (other products are available) and it’s useful to have something to hand rather then clip, get bleeding then have to hunt for it!!

Not only are nails important but fur on paws is important too. Fur growning from between the pads can get long and fold over the pads so when a dog stands or walks they are actually treading on fur – making for a slippery surface! Trimming this fur carefully can provide your dog with traction on slippery surfaces again and prevent your dog injuring themselves  from falling. It can also help dogs with their feet awareness which in turn helps older dogs with their back end strength and awareness.

The fur on top of the paw and around the sides is also important as can also fold under the paw when long, again creating a slippery surface for your dog!

As you can see already there is a huge topic here about nails and fur on dogs paws, and I do talk about these in more detail in Conditioning classes as well as individually if I can see a dog needs some help in this area. Of course if you see me for training just ask if you have any concerns about your dogs nails or fur on their feet!

There are nail maintenance for dogs sites and FB pages of you have a look for them which can help but you do need to find what works for you and your dog best.

So something for you to have a think about – just one small area but can make a huge difference to your dogs health and safety for day to day and also if your dog takes part in activities!


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